Every business understands the importance of a mobile-first approach to digital transformation. But even with the foresight and resources needed, many employees still struggle to champion innovation.

Why? Because they often have to battle bureaucracy in an efficiency-obsessed company culture. This ends up with big companies taking small steps. So, how can you avoid this? How can you unlock digital transformation and keep yourself two steps ahead of your competition?

The Challenge for Big Companies

Digital transformation is already affecting entire industries and disrupting long-standing business models. Increasing customer expectations drive companies today. Along with a fierce need to stay two steps ahead of the competition. But it’s no secret that to gain and maintain a competitive advantage, you must pursue innovation relentlessly. The challenge then is to do so without risking your current customers or your existing profits.

And therein lies the problem. Every company out there has some kind of innovation strategy in place. But often the larger the company, the longer timelines stretch and the more stakeholders get involved. The bigger your project becomes, the more likely you are to hear about ‘risk analysis’ and ‘operational efficiencies.’

Take the Start-Up Approach.

When it comes to innovation, this doesn’t make any sense. After all, we don’t measure the success of a start start-up by its efficiency, do we? Instead, we look at the problem identified and how good the solution is. But in big business culture, it’s often ingrained in your employees to seek out efficiencies. As well as make use of existing assets or bend over backwards to please the customer. On top of all this, your path to digital transformation is mired by bureaucracy, red tape and so many stakeholders. Each one with a different set of values and opinions.

How does all this end? With large companies making small steps. All while trying to keep up with flexible challengers and new entrants who aren’t afraid to fail and fail fast. The biggest challenge to your business innovation isn’t a lack of vision or resource scarcity. It’s prioritising incremental wins over than incremental innovation

The real challenge is to avoid your innovation strategy from getting broken down into smaller, safer steps. Because once this happens, you’re no longer innovating! Instead, you’re streamlining your business operations while your competition catches up with you.

The answer to this core business challenge? A small-scale and highly focused Lighthouse Project.

What is a Lighthouse Project?

A lighthouse project is a small-scale but big-picture project. It’s like a beacon for future digital transformation and development. With this tried-and-tested approach, you can turn ideas into real value for your business.

During its research into successful digital transformation projects, Microsoft found several common factors. First, it’s important that you can get started soon. Being able to fail and fail fast is a key ingredient of innovation.

This means making digital transformation a high priority in your strategy. 55 per cent of startups have already adopted a digital business strategy. Compared with only 38% of traditional enterprises, this shows the importance of digital.

And finally, successful businesses approach digital transformation as many ‘digital experiments.’ You can then scale these up over time which is much more effective than one big project. With continuous feedback loops, you can then track the progress of your projects. All while maintaining a flexible approach.

A lighthouse project ticks every box. By focusing on small-scale projects, you can re-imagine your existing business models. This is essential if you want to self-disrupt and unlock digital transformation. So, what are the steps to ensure the success of your lighthouse projects?

What makes a successful lighthouse project?

One of the most important aspects of a successful lighthouse project is time. Rapid delivery of projects is key if you want to avoid roadblocks and keep your momentum going. For innovation, it’s better to move fast rather than chase the perfect solution. Focus on progress over perfection. Because as Richard Burns at mortgage broker Aussie says: “by the time you think you’ve got the perfect solution, it’s not.”

Another key thing to consider is the progressive nature of your lighthouse projects. Many small organisational shifts are much more practical than one large-scale initiative. And through this method, you can build a solid foundation for future development.

But this requires you to isolate your projects from one another with little to no overlap. Otherwise, it can be difficult to work out each project’s true benefits, limitations and findings. Each lighthouse project should have a specific problem to address. Whether that’s a customer challenge or an inefficient business process.

Finally, you need to have clear and easily-understood metrics. Before you even start each project, you need to consider the quantifiable data that will prove its value. As well as the takeaways for all the different stakeholders. Because of their isolated nature, lighthouse projects will rarely benefit everyone directly. So, you should look at how you show the success or findings of each project on a company-wide scale in a clear way.

Lighthouse Project 4Ps Innovation Model Digital Transformation Sonin App Development

What's Next?

The time to act is now. By focusing on quick-wins and digital experiments, you’ll build the momentum necessary to drive digital transformation. But this requires a culture of innovation rather than efficiency. To encourage a company culture like this, you have to focus on several key things going forward:

  • Be willing to redefine your customer/user experience
  • Take on many progressive, small-scale projects with clear outcomes
  • Promote these small-scale wins across your company, inspiring your employees

But where should you start? We recommend an in-depth discovery phase because it can pinpoint specific areas in your organisation. Ones where mobile technology can transform your processes. This helps you to drive business productivity, engage employees and connect with customers. Through one of our discovery phases, you can highlight the challenges you face and identify opportunities suited to lighthouse projects.

We've helped clients like Ashcourt Student Accommodation, Schwartz, and Elanco to solve core business challenges and we'd love to help you too. Send us a message today or give us a call on  01737 45 77 88.