5 takeaways from Arekibo's Digital Success: Meeting the ROI Challenge Event


4 min read

Posted by Alina Sidbrant on November 20, 2019

5 takeaways from Arekibo's Digital Success: Meeting the ROI Challenge Event

When it comes to digital, companies today are faced with a choice: transform or be left behind. 91% of business leaders see Digital Transformation as a way of sparking innovation and finding efficiencies (Research Report | ISACA, Information Systems Audit and Control Association | 2018). 64% even say they have less than 4 years to complete a Digital Transformation, or they may go out of business (Survey | Couchbase | August 2018). Like it or not, Digital Transformation is happening. Customers have gone online, and businesses need to meet them there

Some companies are having a blast opening up their businesses to digital, some struggle. All are wondering: “Are we getting a return?”

Recently Arekibo hosted an event where, together with industry experts and practitioners from the field, we explored answers to this and other common questions arising through the digital change process.

The keynote speakers, including Mark Troester – VP of Strategy at Progress, Liz Barron – Owner at Realize, Ger Perdisatt – Director of Digital Strategy at Microsoft, Martin Casey – Managing Director of Arekibo and Fergal McHugh – Head of Strategy, Arekibo, tackled the problem from variety of  angles and engaged the audience in lively discussions.

5 TAKEAWAYS from the event that will hopefully help your company succeed in the ROI challenge of digital transformation!

TAKEAWAY 1: Buy a helicopter

We are used to framing goals into projects and then connecting the project with a quantitative, easy-to-measure KPIs which reflect those goals. When the goals are precise and easy to measure evaluating ROI is relatively straightforward. However when it comes to digital transformation which involves organisational change and a great deal of uncertainty, evaluating return is much bigger challenge. As our organisation transforms our goals change, and what is possible changes too. Fergal McHugh suggests that we need to take a holistic or a helicopter view. The value (and thus the return) from digital comes in lots of different forms and we should leave the door open to those opportunities. Scenario planning is a key tool here, we need to think big and look at contrasting models for what our future might be like, and we need to work with a wide definition of return.

TAKEAWAY 2: Iterate your strategy

Agile! What is the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear agile? Development, process, software. Interestingly enough, many of us are using agile every day in the development process, but do not even consider using agile when setting up a strategic plan. Mark Troester has seen that when it comes to digital strategy, evaluating your practices continuously and iteratively versus thinking about a defined end is the key to success. You will never run out of options to improve your business using technology. He also highlights, that digital strategy is a team effort, and the stakeholders involved include frontline leaders from each major organisation discipline, not just IT.

TAKEAWAY 3: Measure your team differently

While technology is at the centre of digitalization efforts, people bring these efforts to life. And we are not talking about heroic individuals, but cross-functional teams, consisting of engineers, project managers, designers, analysts, marketers, lawyers, and more. As noticed by Liz Barron, the hunt for ROI can deter the performance of digital transformation teams, as it can damage trust and puts additional pressure onto the team members. Does it mean that team performance is impossible to measure? Not at all. In order to keep your team intact and contribute to their work, try measuring your team performance on these 10 metrics: team confidence, team “Why” (goal), role clarity, team connectedness, team “What” (mission), desire to improve, team “How” (process), team control, mutual accountability and learning.

TAKEAWAY 4: Start small, follow the digital feedback loop

To many leaders “digital transformation” sounds immense and scary. “Digital change” carries a bit of the same vibe. “Digital project” is less scary, it appears more attainable and has a defined end. And “single digital feature”, “digital journey”, “specific digital experience” are more accessible, attractive and exciting. Ger Perdisatt argues that digital transformation does not necessarily mean digital invention or revolution, it can be more modest and incremental. Changing a single digital feature can be a part of digital project, which in turn is a part of larger  digital transformation. Start small, but start somewhere. It is not so much “first mover advantage” as a “move now advantage”.

TAKEAWAY 5: Do nothing… and calculate the costs of that!

Calculating your ROI on digital investment is a serious challenge, and it is hard to find one solution that fits all. But when considering another investment into what seems like a high-risk and long-term digital project, compare it with the alternative of doing nothing. And don’t forget to think about all the dimensions of value: financial, but also societal, environmental and customer benefit.

"Defining the return on investment for digital is multifaceted. If it isn't positioned and focused on measuring the benefits and return across your business — think revenue, culture, performance, efficiencies, brand etc. — it will certainly fail to deliver to the organisation's expectation." - Martin Casey, Managing Director, Arekibo.

We are incredibly grateful to everyone who was able to attend the event, regardless the weather!

If you have, unfortunately, missed it, don’t worry - more events are coming in 2020, stay tuned. Please subscribe to our newsletter.

About the Author

Alina Sidbrant
Alina Sidbrant

Alina is Marketing Innovation Lead at Arekibo. She is passionate about corporate entrepreneurship and strategy.