Super Users and Digital Transformation

By Mark Delgado, Hitachi High Technologies America.
2015-2017 SAPinsight Leader Board Member.

One of the hottest topics in the business world for the past few years has been “Digital Transformation”. Colin Lankshear and Michele Colin (Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices) state that true transformation “is achieved when the digital usages which have been developed enable innovation and creativity and stimulate significant change within the professional or knowledge domain. This change could happen at the individual level or at that of the group or organization.” I believe that Super Users are currently placed in strategic positions at all levels of organizations; they are in the perfect position to create and inspire change to substantially change and improve the company.

Although there is much written about the importance of top leadership and strategy as related to digital transformation, it is often the disruptors from within the organization leading smaller changes that ultimately gain traction and lead to much greater changes. In the article “The Nine Elements of Digital Transformation” from MITSloan Management Review (https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-nine-elements-of-digital-transformation/) their research concluded that most companies are digitally transforming three key areas of their enterprises: customer experience, operational processes and business models. Within each of these areas, they defined more specific areas of opportunity.

If you look at each of these areas you can probably place a Super User in each of the lower categories. The Sloan team states that it takes strong leadership and a great vision to impart change, and although I do agree with that in general, what I have found in the past that large global changes are hard to make because of the complexity, cost, buy-in and commitment from any organization. Super Users tend to be the members closest to the customer and business processes within any organization, this gives them the opportunity to identify problems and potentially find solutions. Super Users are usually well connected within an organization because they are often the “go-to” person when there are problems and issues that need to be resolved quickly. This combination creates a great opportunity for Super Users to create new solutions and/or opportunities for innovation and improvement.

I would like to offer the following recommendations for any Super User willing to take the Digital Transformation challenge.

  1. Spend quality time thinking about the future. Brainstorm with other colleagues about your business, ask questions and visualize what your business will be like in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years. It is important to think about the total business landscape, where is the industry going, what is the competition doing, will your products and services still be relevant in 5 or 10 years? What will be the next service or product you will bring to your customers? What business process will you optimize so the team can focus on new opportunities for the company’s bottom line and/or growth? Think about Blockbuster, they didn’t think the online “thing” would catch on…but it did.
    1. Quality time – focused, uninterrupted, long enough to bring clarity to your thoughts
    2. Document and review – Plan, Do, Check, Act –
  2. Look for digital solutions
    1. Look for new solutions to the same old problem, look at new cloud based software
    2. Are there solutions to problems that were not available in the past?
    3. Look for opportunities that improve and speed up communications across the organization
    4. Review how mobility can help you
    5. If you sell products, look for services to sell and vice versa
  3. Become rogue but not too rogue
    1. Remember that IT organizations are changing, the traditional role of IT as the gatekeeper of in-house applications is changing to a role of managing cloud based packages and management of global security.
    2. Find potential solutions but work closely with your IT department to help facilitate the transition to any solutions – remember security is critically important and it is becoming much more difficult to manage
    3. Work closely with the business and IT to blend skills sets to develop Digital Citizens from the business and IT
    4. Partner with multiple departments – solutions that include multiple departments increase ownership and program adoption
  4. Disruption leads to Innovation
    1. Innovation inspires – Look for solutions outside of the norm, find solutions to customer service and business processes that have never been dreamed of in the past. When your team is allowed to disrupt and fail or succeed over time you have the opportunity to positively change the culture of innovation. Review the following article for 2002, the points still hold true. (https://hbr.org/2002/08/inspiring-innovation)
    2. Create POCs (Proof of Concepts) of your ideas/suggestions quickly, show them to your team and around the company. POCs will help sell the benefit, gain buy-in and provide motivation and visual impact to innovation.
    3. Communicate, communicate, communicate – tell the story, benefits, and most importantly highlight the people and their roles in making the innovation possible.

Super Users should be a seed for digital transformation. They can help to make the company better through innovation, improved and/or new products and new or enhanced services. Super Users can lead digital adoption by creating front-line success and helping spread the word across the organization. Stay focused on your vision of what the company should look like and what it will be in the future. Monthly and yearly goals are important but the long-term health of any company is important for society and the next generations.

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