Designed for Digital | Jeanne W. Ross

Summary of: Designed for Digital: How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success
By: Jeanne W. Ross


In today’s rapidly evolving digital world, traditional businesses face the daunting challenge of adapting to the digital economy. ‘Designed for Digital: How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success’ by Jeanne W. Ross offers a step-by-step guide to help organizations navigate this complex landscape. The book highlights key elements of the digital economy, such as social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and the Internet of Things (SMACIT) and delves into the building blocks for digital transformation and their interdependencies. By providing real-life examples from various industries, the author aims to demonstrate that the path to digitization doesn’t necessarily require total upheaval, but a gradual shift in direction and a change in habits.

Digital Transformation for Traditional Businesses

Learn how traditional businesses can incorporate digital technologies into their operations by leveraging the five key elements of the digital economy: social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and the Internet of Things (SMACIT). The path to success involves gradually shifting towards a digital delivery strategy without needing to undergo a complete organizational overhaul. By starting with small changes and building up over time, companies can realize benefits such as better customer experiences and increased efficiency. Real-life examples from companies like Philips demonstrate that any firm can benefit from a staged approach to digital transformation.

Five Building Blocks for Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is an iterative process comprised of five interdependent building blocks. Each block requires significant organizational change and constitutes a lengthy and complex project on its own. To successfully transform, companies should tackle one block at a time while abandoning old behaviors and developing new ones. Determining which block to tackle first depends on the company’s current situation. For Schneider Electric, rebuilding their organizational backbone was the first step towards digital transformation. Next, they leveraged customer insights to develop their digital platform and recognized the need for governance and accountability frameworks. Finally, they built APIs to support their external developer platform.

Digital Experiments for Customer-Centric Products

The key to creating successful digital products and services lies in experimenting and gathering insights from customers. Most firms and customers do not always know what they want, making constant digital experiments a necessity. This process involves conducting small-scale tests, collecting customer feedback, and pivoting away from ideas that do not resonate. Design practices such as having a “high-level vision,” conducting a constant flow of experiments, and integrating product development teams and customers into the process can refine digital offerings and ensure that they cater to customer needs. It is essential to avoid working in silos and create a culture of shared learning to refine products continually. By adopting these practices, firms can develop customer-centric digital products and services that evolve with changing customer needs.

Building a Seamless IT Backbone for Digital Transformation

If you’re planning to design your own digital offerings, make sure to have a seamless and integrated IT operation first. You need to have a reliable and secure operational backbone that consolidates all your legacy systems and eliminates complexity. By integrating your systems, you’ll gain the agility and speed required for digital transformation. Building a seamless operational backbone will require cross-divisional effort, data cleansing, and managerial coaching to adapt to the changes. You can target quick fixes, eliminate the least profitable products and business lines, and digitize the mission-critical processes and data first. Companies like Nordstrom and Schneider Electric leveraged the benefits of having an integrated IT backbone by creating a mobile inventory tool, e-commerce shopping platform for customers, and consolidating 300 customer relationship management systems into a single platform. While building a seamless IT backbone requires years of struggle, it provides a tightly integrated, bulletproof production environment that will help you build digital products seamlessly and without disruption.

The Power of Digital Transformation

Digital platforms are essential for modern businesses as they provide the infrastructure and component services needed to create innovative products and services. While an operational backbone provides efficient internal processes, the digital platform allows for rapid innovation and analysis of shared data. Most large firms have begun building their digital platforms, with some acquiring smaller, digitally native firms to gain access to their expertise. Toyota, for instance, developed a car-sharing service for its digital platform by building a repository of data components into its operational backbone. On the other hand, Schneider Electric acquired or developed apps to offer intelligent energy management for customers. The combination of an operational backbone and a digital platform is crucial to transform businesses into efficient and innovative organizations that deliver value to their customers.

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