Digital Transformation - Marathon or Sprint?

So your Digital Transformation strategy is set and your Transformation objectives are clear:

• Deliver faster, reliable and secure services for less cost

• Deliver a modern and consumer-like user experience while interacting, requesting and consuming IT Services

• Ensure that IT is well positioned to respond to customer demand

• Drive more insightful and meaningful business partnering


A Digital Transformation is typically a medium-to- long term commitment and therefore, it is more aligned to a marathon rather than a sprint.

So what are the key considerations in preparing for a marathon? - Train hard and build mileage into your legs, map the course and your race-day strategy, and finally hunker down and start running. It doesn’t matter how well-prepared you are; it’s only a matter of time until the weariness kicks in and your stamina and ability to cope is tested.

In contrast to undertaking a Transformation - while your planning and preparation can be executed well, the often long and hard ‘benefits realisation’ road can be a challenging one, overlaid with the ongoing need to navigate speed bumps while communicating progress clearly, can often slowly erode momentum.

The other key consideration for a transformation is high focus on the Information Technology aspect. People tend to seek ‘technology-based’ solutions as a means of overcoming problems and challenges – and let’s face it - it’s easier to opt for what we naturally know? A successful Transformation requires a broader focus combined with rigorous determination.

Why not consider establishing your transformation as a Relay? Relays create excitement and build momentum as they progress. The success of a relay team is based upon its ability to 'work together’, which, in turn, is underpinned by strong and effective communications across the entire team.

Each phase of the relay is focused on delivering to a specific and unique set of objectives with clear inputs and outputs. Preparation for each phase can be undertaken in parallel, allowing resources and skillsets to match the objectives of that phase.


Each phase works as its own ’ecosystem’ anchored back to its objectives with a high emphasis on clear roles and clean transitions (baton exchanges) between phases building momentum throughout the transformation lifecycle. When there is clarity across the roles and responsibilities for each team member within each phase, the team is more likely to succeed.


I’m a big fan of the analogies between sport and business success, there is much to learn from a well organised relay team in action!


Kirk Penn, Principal Advisory Consultant

Kirk is a certified ITIL expert (v3) and Six Sigma Green Belt. He has worked on a variety of ITSM based transformation programs across Utilities, Telecommunications, Banking & Finance, Government & Public Sector, Real Estate & Transportation industries over the past 15 years. He is regularly called on by senior leaders and executives to provide ITSM strategy and guidance on complex projects across Asia Pacific.

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