Digital Transformation, Why and How

Greg Kowalik  President, RDS

Greg Kowalik
President, RDS

Digital transformation, digital enterprise, digital workplace, digital everything, the digital buzz words are everywhere. Each ECM, and ERP software vendor talks about it at their conferences, their blogs, sales pitches, Twitter, everybody is going digital!

Our clients talk about it too; they want the digital, paperless and well managed business. Unstructured data/documents are not going away, but the problem is growing exponentially.  It is on the agenda of every CIO with a push from their legal department screaming: “Enforce the retention policy!”. Exposure, risk avoidance, growing cost of storage and infrastructure, inefficient processes, slow responsiveness to changing business needs; the problems of not going digital are well understood by all. If so, why are only 18% of US companies considered “digital”?  (According to the McKinsey Global Institute’s Industry Digitization Index)

Two of our clients approached me recently, and asked what to do about the request from their legal department to enforce the records retention policy. I could tell they were feeling overwhelmed at the nightmare prospect of having to go through file cabinets, networks shares, emails, SharePoint sites, ERP archive data files, paper boxes, legacy systems and more, in a huge effort to inventory their records and identify ways to eliminate paper, to consolidate methods of electronic storage mechanism, and associate those records with ERP data. It is a massive task, which is only the beginning, because once all the records have been identified, located, and organized, a systematic and ideally automated way to apply retention rules would need to be established, which would allow for various types of legal or audit holds, and would destroy the records at the end of their life-cycle.

It is very difficult to envision the enormous effort necessary to arrive at the end point of the digital journey with that approach, which is in my opinion the single most important reason why so very few companies even try.  Unless your company is in a regulated industry, with a risk of shutdown due to non-compliance, the likelihood of doing nothing, or very little, is high. But the risk of doing nothing, and being outpaced by competition is also high, if not higher (Blockbuster vs Netflix story comes to mind). Doing nothing is the worst possible option.

The solution is surprisingly simple. Just do it is smaller chunks. Our brains and our own nature struggle with massive, complex, and long running tasks and projects.  On the other hand, smaller “sprints” are processed and executed surprisingly well and efficiently.  This is why an agile approach to projects works often much better than the waterfall, traditional approach.

In conclusion, the long term goal of achieving a digital workplace and a digital enterprise is important. Working in that direction by executing smaller, incremental projects is the way to succeed.  We see a lot of success achieved by our clients who embrace this approach, and who start by selecting processes or departments that ask:


·        to be more efficient and digital

·        to have the freedom of working from anywhere

·        to have happier employees, with the information needed readily available and in the right context

·        to be able to respond to customers faster, and with more efficiency


Our most successful customers do not wait, do not simply do nothing. They are committed; they execute and advance process by process, business unit by business unit. Otherwise, big, enterprise-wide programs are difficult to manage, they are hard to keep on track, and often fall apart. In our experience, the "smaller chunks" approach instead has proven to be the most manageable and successful one of all.  And we would be happy to share with you our success stories, our tools, and our methodology to achieve this.

Contact us here, we would be happy to hear your thoughts and comments!