This article is the first in a 3-part series about Digital Transformation Models and Frameworks. Part-1 is an amplified summary and point of view edition of a research conducted by Jimmy Bumann and Professor Dr. Marc K. Peter – November 2019 titled “Action Fields of Digital Transformation – A Review and Comparative Analysis of Digital Transformation Maturity Models and Frameworks.“
In Part-2 and Part-3 of my independent scrutiny, I will cover other digital frameworks and models not cited by Mr. Bumann and Professor Dr. Marc, such as the MIT, Capgemini, Accenture, Cognizant, EY, and others. I will be utilizing a similar methodology and approach to the research they conducted in 2019.
Digital Transformation (DX) is meant to be a global and a revolutionized industry effort (Industry 4.0). Organizations have no choice but to transfer digitally; It’s a survival issue; it is either transfer; otherwise, you will be left behind.
DX sponsors, strategists, and implementation leaders find it challenging to set and implement digital agendas because they are uncertain about the business process’s digitalization aspects, topics, and setup.
To provide the organization’s leadership with an overview of the most critical digital transformation topics, many consulting (firms), independent authors, and even digital communities built their unique digital transformation frameworks/models, making the confusion and challenges even more difficult.
Unfortunately, research insights and practical guidance for businesses in the field of DX are still limited (M. Peter, C. Kraft, and J. Lindeque, 2019). While commercial providers, including consulting companies, have published a series of whitepapers and frameworks, only a handful of DX models/frameworks have emerged from academic research. Most of them are digital maturity models that assess an organization’s digital readiness and progress in the digital age.
Multi-million dollar questions asked – Which one is a more suitable framework? Which firm’s philosophy, framework, and model would an enterprise pick for its Digital Transformation Strategy and Journey? And Which one will make an enterprise Digital Transformation Strategy and Journey a successful one? Let me shed light on some answers and retort these questions in the coming articles as part of this POV and conclusion.
Out of almost one hundred articles and sources, Bumann and Dr. Peter’s review has identified eighteen validated digital maturity models and frameworks which describe various business dimensions or action fields for DX leadership to consider for a digital transformation strategy and journey. The eighteen identified models and frameworks include 116 dimensions (an average of six per model/framework).
The comparative analysis and findings, the models and frameworks:
- vary in terms of origin, industry, and their academic or practical background and purpose,
- either had to stem from researchers or organizations with a sound reputation, such as international conglomerate system integrators or/and consultancy firms,
- the majority are maturity models that aim to assess an organization’s digital maturity either with a self-assessment or with an assessment through a third party, where some frameworks purely provide an overview for digital transformation topics.
The analysis examined more than 25 (business) dimensions and action fields, but six repeated ones (are dominating) provide an essential potential generic cross-industry digital transformation framework for organizations to succeed in their digital transformations. However, I have noticed that one common action field among nine specific dimensions is vital (but not –clearly– cited) to the digital journey’s success; it is the Change Management action field. Enterprise’s Change management capability creates the fuel for success by orchestrating a harmony between Culture, People, Leadership, Collaboration, Environment, Monitoring, Control, Value, and Transformation Management.
To simplify the representation, I abbreviated the essential business dimensions or business action fields which henceforth called them business capabilities under a holistic one “STOP-3C digital transformation business capabilities” model:
- Strategy business capability
- Technology business capability
- Organization business capability
- People business capability
- Corporate culture business capability
- Customer experience/engagement business capability
- Change management business capability
one STOP-3C digital transformation business capabilities
Through the one STOP-3C DX Business Capabilities model, I aim to unify a DX model that might answer some of the DX executives’ concerns. The above model highlights the main-dimensions, and in the subsequence part of this article, I will shed light more on the sub-dimensions capabilities.
Unfortunately (and as proclaimed by Becker, Knackstedt & Pöppelbuss), although many maturity models and frameworks have been developed in recent years, the procedures and approaches that led to these models have been ambiguously documented.
The procedure for the development and identification of a generic and supported digital transformation framework partly relates to a simplified methodological approach suggested by Becker, Knackstedt & Pöppelbuss (2009), Egeli (2016), and Neff (2014).
The approach took into consideration the following strains:
- The need and practical relevance for a broader and validated digital transformation framework
- The need to identify and reveal the existing digital maturity models and transformation frameworks
- The need for the models and frameworks to be compared and evaluated regarding their (business) dimensions
- A born of a new model/framework shall be (universal) demarcated according to the results of the comparative analysis
- The framework shall be validated in the market
The analysis classified the six most applied business capabilities, namely:
- Culture (in 13 models/frameworks)
- Technology (in 12 models/frameworks)
- Strategy (in 11 models/frameworks)
- Organization (in 10 models/frameworks)
- Customer experience/engagement (in 10 models/frameworks)
- People/employees (in 9 models/frameworks)
The threshold was defined at 40% – meaning that these business capabilities appear in at least 40% of the total group of frameworks and models.
Since each model has its unique characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses, the comparison led to several challenges:
Firstly, some models used a specific topic as the primary dimension, while others used it indirectly as well, but only as a sub-dimension. For instance, “eco-systems and partnerships” were used as the primary dimension and defined as a sub-category of another dimension. Anderson & William (2018) consider eco-systems under the strategy dimension, whereas Schlaepfer (2017) categorize eco-systems under the organization dimension. Since this comparison aimed to identify the most frequently used topmost (business) dimensions, the concept-matrix generally only covered each framework/model’s primary (business) dimensions and neglected the sub-dimensions.
Secondly, for specific (business) dimensions with the same meaning, slightly different terms were used by others. For instance, dimensions such as information technology and technology management combined in the technology dimension (later amplified as disruptive technology). Dimensions such as customer centricity or customer experience combined in the customer(s) dimension. On the other hand, different topics were aggregated in one dimension. For instance, Anderson & William (2018) combined organization and culture, Peter (2017) combined digital leadership and culture, and Berghaus (2017) combined culture and expertise. In such cases, both terms were considered separately to increase comparability and consistency levels.
And finally, most models and frameworks are generic, similar to these of a general business model canvas, while others, for instance, Gill & Vanboskirk (2016), Gimpel (2018), Gunsberg (2018), Peter (2017), Rogers (2016), Schlaepfer (2017) and Westerman (2011), include digital transformation specific (business) dimensions, which are new to the portfolio of pre-digital area management topics.
Comparative Analysis of Digital Transformation Models & Frameworks (renovated)
Many digital transformation communities, consulting firms, and governmental entities created their own digital Transformation model/framework. The marketplace is overwhelmed with too many digital transformation models and frameworks which confuses many executives, leaders, and implementation managers. Most of them are digital maturity models that assess an organization’s digital readiness and progress in the digital age. And unfortunately, many of these frameworks lack pragmatic validation and lack practical guidance for businesses (Bumann and Peter, 2019). A call to unify and industry standardized a digital transformation model/framework is becoming a necessity.
The review unveiled by Bumann and Professor Dr. Peter sat as a cornerstone for evaluating and reshaping the industrial digital transformation models and frameworks. The analysis opened the door wide and mandated a standardizing industrial digital transformation model/framework – building a universal, industry-standard, and cross-industrial model/framework permitting an enterprise to map its business capabilities and measure its digital success journey.
Despite the fact that Mr. Bumann and Dr. Peter put a tremendous analytical effort into the review by (a) validated more than 25 significant business dimensions for successful digital transformation, (b) identified and analyzed eighteen digital strategy/transformation maturity models/frameworks along with their various business dimensions/capabilities, and (c) identified the most often cited business dimensions (namely strategy, organization, corporate culture, technology, customer, and people), other existing digital transformation models/frameworks ought to be incorporated and assessed.
Digital transformation requires an interlock of organizational change along with the implementation of disruptive digital technologies. The six business capabilities stated in the review – together with the additional change management capability – should be deliberated in all digital transformation strategies and mapping tasks.
The task was challenging since some models defined (or labeled) a certain topic as the main business dimension/capability, whereas others used it as well, but only as a sub-dimension. In addition, for some business dimensions/capabilities with the same meaning, slightly different terms were used in the identified literature.
Many of the reviewed models/frameworks are generic, similar to those of a general business strategy or business model canvas, while others include digital transformation-specific dimensions; this created a new driver and an excellent opportunity for organizations (not a challenge or a confusion). Since digital transformation is not optional and a surviving matter, organizations need not start comparing their current (strategy) status and future (digital) strategy status. They should confirm and enrich their existing strategy with the new digital direction and deploying disruptive digital technologies.
In Part-2, I will shed more light on other existing digital transformation models and frameworks. And in Part-3, a more focus on digital transformation business capabilities will be the core topic.