HOST: Lisette Diamant, Digital Brand Manager 

GUEST: Roger Wahman, CTO – Consulting Services 

DESCRIPTION: Roger Wahman, CTO of Apex Systems, walks through the need for the digital roadmap, as well as how to build one successfully.  

Lisette Diamant  00:00 

Welcome to Digital Reimagined, a podcast packed with insights from Apex Systems, a world class technology services leader working to reimagine value for our clients. We'll bring you the voices of industry experts to showcase our proven solutions that span across digital innovation, modern enterprise and workforce mobilization. On today's episode of Digital Reimagined, I have here with me Roger Wahman, CTO of Apex Systems. Together, we'll be talking about the need for the digital roadmap, why have one, in what ways can you get started and some important considerations along the way. Roger, thanks so much for being here today!  

 

Roger Wahman  00:42 

Yeah thanks, Lisette. I'm excited to be here. Thanks for having me as part of the podcast. 

 

Lisette Diamant  00:46 

So leading into this conversation. Roger, I'd love to have you talk a bit about, you know, what is the importance of having a digital roadmap? 

 

Roger Wahman  00:54 

Absolutely. That's a great question. And I like to start that discussion with asking the question about digital transformation and what that means to people. When we talk about transformation, that implies some significant change. And so if we're implying that there's major change, you need to put in place a plan. And that's what the roadmap is an output or a deliverable as part of a digital transformation or strategic assessment. There are several reasons why a digital roadmap is important. First of all, you need to set a destination to know where you're going, and also why you're headed that direction. Secondly, it also helps you really think about the future. So many times, you really need to think about what are the possibilities? What could my future look like, and then bring in the constraints or dependencies or the good things that you've done today or in the past that you still want to keep in the future state. And the last reason why I feel a digital roadmap is so important, is it really is the piece of the puzzle that enables you to take ideas and turn them into actions. And that should help anyone's organization realize this change or digital transformation that we like to talk about. And really make sure that the vision and the actions that are taken are in alignment with one another, this roadmap should be able to link those things together.  

 

Lisette Diamant  02:20 

Absolutely love the way you outline that. So I'd love to build a little bit more on you know, even laying the groundwork for some of our listeners on what is a digital roadmap.  

 

Roger Wahman  02:29 

To me there's a flow that has to happen if you start at the highest level with strategic objectives, which I already mentioned before. That's the destination, where are we headed? What do we hope to accomplish? But not just what, why are we doing that? The next thing that's a big part of a roadmap process is what I would call an influencer. And that can be a trend. It could be technology, it could be geography, something that's happening in your region of the world, that's important for you to consider. It could be social, it could be economic, lots of different things could come into play or influence what you're doing with a digital roadmap and the decisions that you're making to take action. And the third piece where you really get to where the idea meets action or the roadmap meets the road, as we like to say, is the tactics. So you can create some prioritization amongst those actions between each other to help you define what the action plan or that piece of the roadmap would look like. And then finally, if you have specific actions that you could take, you also want to apply technology, what are the key technologies, the stack, the tools that we would use to help us implement this action in our organization? Now, that ties back to not just what do I need to do in terms of the tactic or the action that I want to take. but also those influencers, there could be things that are on the horizon in one of those areas that I mentioned, or even others from a technology perspective that we want to latch on to as an organization that would really help us drive both strategically and tactically, the items that are on our digital roadmap to achieve success. 

 

Lisette Diamant  04:13 

And now, how do you get started? How do you go about it creating this digital roadmap? And what is an approach and point of view? 

 

Lisette Diamant  04:20 

Yeah, that's a really good question. I think most companies or organizations probably already have some semblance of a roadmap, it may look a little different than what I described, or my thought process. And I don't think I'm trying to give a one size fits all to a digital roadmap here. But these are really principles or ideas that you should be thinking about that would be part of your unique process or roadmap within your organization. Can I understand where I'm headed and why I'm headed there? Can I see the specific actions that are part of that plan, and understand what they are and how those two things relate to one another? Does it actually link those things together? So I think there was an examination of the roadmap that you have today. And part of what I like to do is actually ask people that question and asking them, do they understand why that they're doing these things? And how they relate to one another? You'd be surprised how many times people say, I don't know how it relates back to the strategic objectives, or I don't know why we're doing this project. So I think there's that critical look as to what is the roadmap look like today? And how could or should it look different than maybe What's there? And what should be changed in order to get us back on the right path? So once you've done that, it's really that the application of those principles, do I have these things? And can I work my way forward to back and back to forward within that roadmap, and make sure that that alignment is there. And one other key point I should probably mention is, all of this should be in alignment with your company's culture? Right, that the things that are strategic objectives for you should not be in conflict with the principles or the core values of your organization? 

 

Lisette Diamant  06:02 

Sure, sure. Some great points. And now thinking a bit further about, you know, what are the outcomes were the benefits of having this digital roadmap? And also, how often should you revisit it? 

 

Roger Wahman  06:13 

Sure, a couple of things. And one is a significant number of what we would call digital transformations fail. And so how do we keep that from happening? The face value answer to your question is, so we are successful in delivering on the projects and the strategic objectives of our organization, we need to make sure that this roadmap can do all the things that we talked about, but also ensure success with the people, the process, the technology, all the things that we're doing in order to grow as a company. And the second piece of it is they ultimately sort of all abstract up to greater revenue or penetration, maybe some optimization, cost savings, or customer experience, and how can we make that better? at the highest level, something is typically related to one of those three things. Customer Experience is the one that I always like to talk about, how, how could you make that better through a digital roadmap? And what would the outcome look like? And we talk a lot about a delightful experience and experience without friction, usability, I like to think about other things and the application of those technologies that I talked about. So the the value that you would get out of a digital transformation related to something like customer experience could be an integrated experience, how can I combine digital and physical stores into one consolidated experience for a customer? It could be the personalized experience? How can I really uniquely focused on creating content processes, applications, etc, that give a personalized experience to my customers with my products and services? The intelligent or the smart experience application of artificial intelligence, machine learning, chat, bots, natural language processing? What are the things that I can do? The possibilities are endless, and technologies to support that are growing bigger and faster and less expensive every day. And interactive is a big piece of what I would talk about how can I make my products and services interactive in the digital world. And then finally, trust. It's a big driver for people, and not just the cybersecurity, what are the privacy regulations? but also people want to know, what data do you have about me? And how are you using it. And so a big piece of it, you know, outcome wise, if this is part of your roadmap, could be creating or building that trust with your customers, and providing or building the transparency so they can understand what data you have, how you're using that data, and that it's being used for their benefit. And I think that's really important for socially conscious consumers. 

 

Lisette Diamant  08:49 

Roger, thank you so much for coming in. Today, I'd love to leave our listeners with one thought provoking ending to this episode to continue pondering building a successful digital roadmap. 

 

Roger Wahman  09:00 

Sure thanks, Lisette. The fundamental question that I asked at the beginning of this discussion is, does your digital roadmap define where you want to go? And how it will help you achieve transformation? And do the people that work on all components of the digital roadmap have a common understanding? Are they in alignment? Do they have common goals? And are they working together to make that happen? And those are the fundamental questions that I think you should ask about your roadmap. And I think the other piece of that that would like to leave the listeners with is it's a living document, it will change. Absolutely will change! So you need to have that mindset to know that, not only the journey will change the path we take, but ultimately the destination will continue to change and grow and transform. 

 

Lisette Diamant  09:47 

What a wonderful place to leave us on. Thanks so much, wonderful to have you Roger. 

 

Roger Wahman  09:51 

Thanks Lisette! 

 

Lisette Diamant  09:56 

Please be sure to subscribe to Digital Reimagined wherever you listen to podcasts. We'll be sharing out a new episode every Monday. To learn more about Apex Systems offerings, visit us at apexsystems.com/insights.  You'll find our podcast here along with success stories, articles, news and trends. Digital Reimagined is a podcast brought to you by Apex Systems, produced by Taylor Hawkins. The music you heard was Do Ba Do by Otis Galloway.