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Digital Transformation Strategies 101: Intro to Dual-Track

Written By: Mikaela Gluck
August 14, 2020
4 min read

In a world where a business’s utilization of technology can make-or-break performance, digital transformation is a top priority for IT leaders. They know better than anyone else that the stakes are high – success means getting ahead of the competition, and failure, simply put, is not an option.

The pressure is on, and businesses need to be strategic about their approach to ensure their efforts don’t fall short. Traditional digital transformation strategies have proven to not be comprehensive, leaving cultural and strategy gaps that undercut success.

Dual-track transformation is the solution to the problem on everyone’s mind.

Dual-track transformation is a digital transformation strategy that simultaneously addresses large scale, multi-year digital transformation efforts and rapid-cycle innovation of processes that run across business workflows and workgroups. The goal is a comprehensive digital transformation that reaches all corners of your business and is sustainable years into the future.

The First Track: An Enterprise-Wide Orientation

The first track of dual-track transformation is likely familiar to business and IT leaders. It consists of digital transformation efforts with an enterprise-wide orientation and relies on highly skilled developers to identify and implement new technology throughout an organization. The challenge standing between these first track efforts and successful transformation is making the necessary corresponding changes in the company culture and business workflows impacted by digitization.

This is not a comprehensive approach to digital transformation on its own. The projects on this first track are complex, time-consuming, and require all components to be in place before businesses can reap the benefits. This means that the value generated from these initiatives can take years to manifest.

For many organizations, however, this first track accounts for the entirety of their digital transformation strategy and is more than likely hindering the success of their efforts.

According to a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytics Services, 69% of global executives haven’t implemented a dual-track strategy – so it comes as no surprise that a whopping 78% aren’t willing to rate their current digital transformation strategies as “very effective”.

The Second Track: Innovation at the Business Processes Level

The solution to a successful digital transformation lies in activating the second track of dual-track transformation. The purpose of this track is to fill in the gaps left by enterprise-oriented efforts.

In contrast to the first track, the second track focuses on applying digital transformation to a comprehensive collection of processes that fall into one of two categories:

  1. Any processes that are unique to your organization and yield a competitive advantage, whether that be a marketing campaign, procurement process, or anything in between.
  2. Any critical-to-business processes that your enterprise relies on to function, like accounts payable, purchasing, and materials management.

Another difference between the first and second track is while the first track is executed almost entirely by IT professionals, the second track relies on innovation from the people who manage or implement these processes day-to-day. As those closest to the work, these employees have valuable insight into what modifications will be most effective for the business.

Both these second track processes and the people who use them are often overlooked by traditional digital transformation strategies but have the potential to make all the difference. To achieve optimal results from your digital transformation, businesses need to extend their efforts beyond the first track, activate the second track, and involve employees at the edge of the business.

The Benefits of Dual-Track Transformation

Business and IT leaders agree – 92% of survey respondents believe successful transformation requires a dual-track effort1. Working in conjunction, the result of this approach is that organizations can expand current enterprise-wide transformation efforts by using rapid-cycle innovation to address cultural and technology gaps.

The benefits of dual-track go beyond simply filling in the gaps left by grand-scale transformation. It achieves more targeted, incremental improvements and quick wins while reducing the risk associated with large scale digital transformations. It unites business and IT teams on a common platform and aligns their goals. It encourages an organization-wide culture of innovation and builds a framework for digital transformation that can last for years into the future.

1 “Drive Business Success with a Dual-Track Approach to Transformation,” Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 2020

Written By: Mikaela Gluck

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