Digital Transformation: A Golden Goose for PMs and BAs
If you’re not familiar with Digital Transformation (DX), think of it as Business Process Reengineering (BPR) on steroids.
To be more accurate, I consider BPR to be a subset of DX. BPR creates and enhances technical and business processes and has, rightly so, been a driving force of productivity, work efficiency and work effectiveness. DX also does this, but additionally uses of digital technologies to create new products, reuse data in new innovative ways, and perform other activities with the goal of . . .
- Improving efficiency
- Enhancing customer value
- Reducing risk
- Creating new markets
- Disrupting existing markets
- Enhancing competitiveness
- Uncovering new monetization opportunities
Because DX has the word “Digital” in it, you may think that I’m only speaking to the PMs and BAs working within IT, this is by no means the case. Technology these days is omnipresent in all professions, all industries and virtually all knowledge worker job types. The question is how can you and/or your company use digital technologies to your/their advantage.
From a Project Manager (PM) and Business Analyst (BA) perspective, I have always felt that BPR has been a primary role for PMs and BAs if not in name, then in spirit. Whereas DX is a superset of BPR, logic dictates that there will be a need to expand your skills if you truly want to profit but DX megatrend.
In a traditional PM or BA role, by the time you are assigned to the project, the strategy behind it has already been approved and funded. Your job is to make then approved strategy a reality. While this role is still, and always will be, available to you, DX gives you the opportunity to enhance your role and professional stature from execution-only to strategy-and-execution. The key to this professional metamorphosis is the combination of business opportunity and enhanced knowledge and skills.
The business opportunity to move into this expanded role is, of course, largely based on your current job, your department’s role within the organization and your organization’s willingness to embrace digital technologies and the internal change it creates.
From a job role perspective:
- As a BA, instead of documenting requirements, they will be helping to strategically define what the requirements should be
- As a PM, the first step of your project will be helping to define the strategy that will ultimately cause your project’s definition to take form
I know that this is easier said than done, but if you keep these future goals in mind, and work toward attaining them, then this goal can be within reach.
Regarding enhancing your skills to meet the DX opportunity and challenge, the additional knowledge and skills that are needed are very much in line with the competencies outlined in the PMI Talent Triangle and the IIBA BABOK Underlying competencies.
The first things that must be understood to move in this direction are related to you company and industry. More specifically, they are:
- Your company’s vision, objectives and values
- Your company’s strengths, weaknesses and competitive business landscape
- Your industry’s business and technology trends
- Technology trends not yet applied within your industry that are in use within other industries
The reason why the above information is so important to you is that you cannot transform the business if you don’t understand it and/or cannot think like a business person first and a PM/BA a close second.
Next, you need to gain a general conceptual understanding of today’s leading technologies. I don’t mean become a techie, I mean a basic knowledge of what the technologies are and their potential applications from a business perspective. These technologies include:
- Machine learning / Artificial intelligence
- Internet of Things
- 3D printing
- Big Data
- Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality
With the knowledge in place (and always growing), your next step is to expand your skills beyond that of a traditional PM or BA. These enhanced skills include:
- Strategic thinking and planning
- Competitive analysis
- Cross-functional organizational politics
- Innovation concepts and techniques
Next, you need to expand your toolset to include tools that help facilitate strategic thinking, innovation and organizational strategy. This list could be pages long, but consider the following as examples:
- Design Thinking (and other human centered design techniques)
- Mind Mapping (and other visual tools)
- Brainstorming (not just traditional brainstorming, consider brainwriting and others)
- Simulations (all types of business modeling tools)
This may seem like a overwhelming amount of knowledge and skills to attain. As the expression goes “How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time.” You can gain this knowledge and skill and little or no cost a little at a time. A greater understanding of your business and industry can be achieved by the combination of internal company classes, reading through your company’s internet site, reading any industry-related magazines that are sitting around the office, or by an online search. General information on leading technologies can easily be found online in Wikipedia and other informational websites. Needed skills can learned for free on great websites like www.coursera.org on www.edx.org. Lastly, great tools and techniques can be found through online search, by asking your friends, or just be being professionally curious.
In closing, as the title of this blog alludes, the movement from a traditional PM or BA to one who has the skills and knowledge to help drive your company’s Digital Transformation activities can enhance your internal visibility, provide great new projects to work on, raise your pay and accelerate your upward professional mobility.