The Digital Business Portfolio: A balanced approach to transformation

In the past months, a growing trend we have seen is the corporate appetite for ‘digital everything’.  Looking for ‘moonshots’ and transformation at every turn, digital transformation seems at the top of every agenda. 

The challenge with that is the amount of organization change it requires succeeding at one transformation cycle, much less ‘all things to everyone’.   Based on experience, we recommend a more balanced, portfolio approach to digital transformation.   How to do? Read on!

Asset classes in a ‘digital portfolio’

Like an investment portfolio or real estate holdings mix, ‘digital’ portfolios have different types of investment for different types of result.    Depending on a company’s risk tolerances, market conditions, and maturity, each portfolio investment can make a major digital difference on your journey.  

an example Digital Business Portfolio with weight towards Sales transformation & growth

an example Digital Business Portfolio with weight towards Sales transformation & growth

Asset class: Growth-focused digital changes

In this area of the portfolio, the digital investments are focused on growing the top-line revenue and market growth for a company.  Most often this is through digital experience changes, including improved digital presence (websites), customer / user experiences, mobile / app capabilities, sales enablement, digital marketing and brand building, and accelerated transaction processing.    All are focused on driving brand awareness, marketing engagement, and 'click to close' sales outcomes.

Asset class: Digital efficiency efforts

Digital improvements to a company’s eco-system are not limited to top line revenue efforts.  Each area of a business, including the traditional functions like Human Resources, Corporate learning, Finance, Collaboration and information sharing within a company – all have digital opportunities today.   

Migrating many of these to the ‘cloud’ is a common response – though thought needs to be given to key dependencies including identity management (logins and access controls), information updates and real time ‘feeds’ of core information, and the ability to record  outcomes across multiple systems. 

Business process automation, machine learning, and robotic process automation (RPA) are all digital investments in the operations portfolio.  

Enterprise architecture is a key skill that a company needs to have in abundance when undertaking these sort of changes, as digital experiences can set (or disrupt) corporate culture quickly if not done well.  

Asset class: Improving the digital risk position

 With the constant talk about ‘digital transformation’, the security and stability of a company’s infrastructure usually takes the back seat to other new digital imperatives. 

What can be missed – the importance of information security, life cycle management of information including data backups and restoration (now cloud enabled), and continuous cyber-security interference.   If you do not consider these when you digitize, you put the entire portfolio (and likely company) at a much higher risk. 

The wisest of companies are continuing to invest in their information security capabilities and readiness in parallel to other digital efforts.   These include upgrades to network monitoring and intrusion detections, preparations for the malware outbreaks, and cloud disruptions are now common place.  

When you accelerate, and enable digital systems to interact across cloud platforms, disruption and reliance on third parties become a higher priority to manage than ever before.  Either outsourcing to a trusted third party the management, or investing in automated tools and infrastructure that identifies and protects issues is a better practice.  


Different digital portfolios for different (corporate) goals

Each company is at a different maturity stage with technology (digital or otherwise), personnel capabilities and staffing (outsourced, in-sourced, hybrid, shadow IT), and market conditions faced.  That is what makes finding a ‘perfect answer’ for digital a broad spectrum response to this sort of query.  There are several archetypes and better practices to start with.  Some of the more common digital models observed include:

Growth minded (with lower priority on efficiency or risk factors):

-       Aggressive user experience / customer journey mapping projects that focus on touch points and digital marketing to sales conversion.   CRM platforms are usually up for review and transaction / deal flow enablement technologies are implement;

-       An efficiency / operations project to improve collaboration or work place experience (HR platform / benefits platform)

-       Outsourced managed info-security scanning and monitoring.

In this scenario, investment in a digital marketing / IT savvy solution partner, and investment longer term in a digitally experienced CMO is recommended.  With focus on the digital marketing / sales experience, companies pursuing this transformation will find themselves often in the land of digital agencies and solution providers enabling direct email marketing, social listening and auto response, and managing engagement campaigns across many digital channels.    Internal initiatives will take lower priority by cultural / leadership focus

Balanced with bias towards conservation of capital (typical private SMB):

-       1 to 3 digital growth initiatives (marketing, digital user experience, sales enablement)

-       1 to 2 efficiency efforts (digital transaction management, workforce collaboration)

-       2 risk management efforts (data center replication to the cloud, information security testing and systemic improvement)

In these circumstances, the corporate entity is balancing a finite capital budget with the new operational expense costs of many ‘cloud’ platforms, and attempting to execute change in concert across these multiple areas.   In this scenario, having a centralized change office / project management office, working in concert with enterprise architects to ensure alignment between information process and business / experience outcomes.   

Digital ‘dabbler’ with low(er) risk tolerance

-       1 digital growth initiative (digital marketing and social media listening typically)

-       1 efficiency effort (usually a long running and slow moving back office migration to a cloud platform, or industry vertical cloud shift)

-       2+ risk management digital solutions

In these portfolio cases, the investments on digital transformation are limited and enterprise risk / operations are willing the majority of budget, talent, and focus for the business.  This scenario is not a bad one for a slower moving incumbent / market leader that has a sizeable revenue gap and time to evaluate and implement digital capabilities at a slower pace.  The risk, that a disrupter/ competitor emerges – exists and digital can become a hurdle (vs. a benefit) in the scenario. 

Which ‘digital assets’ and model are right for you?

This is where we help.  Finding the right ‘digital transformation’ game plan for your company is what we help companies identify, prioritize, and enable.   Making the digital journey is a challenge, and we believe in practical answers tailored to each Client’s market, business, and digital conditions.   

To learn where and how to start on your digital journey, or to optimize your digital portfolio in place today, get in touch!    We provide a free hour’s assessment and chance to understand the ‘art of the possible’ and how you can become a better digital business!