"Digital transformation" seems to be the catch phrase of the year for IT consulting firms, with vendors showcasing a variety of products and services that incorporate social and productivity solutions into the latest modern design templates. 

But behind all of the platitudes and cookie-cutter user interface overlays are some companies that are truly changing the way that organizations interact with their customers, partners and employees.

French consulting firm and analytics provider Lecko is one such vendor. As with many companies specializing in digital transformation, it has worked with a wide variety of customers — from the public and private entities in France and beyond — to build social platforms and intranets. But with 20 percent of its resources invested back into R&D, the company also leads a comprehensive analysis of the knowledge economy and its supporting ecosystem.

Each year its annual research looks at different aspects of the knowledge economy, examining various complementary trends, such as the identification of social value and how it should be integrated into broader collaboration initiatives.

Its latest analysis, entitled "Enterprise Social Networking volume 8 – Supporting and preparing your business for change," (LinkedIn authentication required) came out in April and is available in French and English versions.

Finding the Right Focus for Change

The report's big takeaway is that far too many companies attempt to change too much, too quickly. The authors write, "If change is to be extensive, there will be more people to be unified and it will be harder to create the conditions for success. The energy expended in building this digital collective is energy which is not injected into the transformation process." 

In other words, successful transformations usually start with a series of small wins, or pilot activities, which the business can expand on as milestones are reached and when your leadership team is convinced of the business value the transformation creates. A good portion of the 148-page report focuses on garnering executive support for transformation initiatives.

The report provides analysis of commonly used technologies (including IBM Connections, SharePoint, Slack, and many others) against more than 60 categories, which can be a valuable resource for companies beginning their digital transformation journey. Along with the analysis, it also provide insights into which platforms work best for specific purposes — whether knowledge management, collaboration or communication.

Matching the Tool to the Task

The study breaks down the topic into five chapters:

  1. Identifying social and collaborative value, which explains the emerging technologies and trends that are transforming the digital workplace.
  2. How managers tackle the challenges of collaboration, which discusses some of the underlying issues of digital transformation, and the practical applications of common solutions.
  3. Looking at things from an UK/US point of view, which includes comparisons of Western Europe with international markets to help put the analysis into a global perspective.
  4. Practice leaders, which describes the goals and approach for their analysis, behavioral profiles of the leaders identified in the report, and some key takeaways that companies can apply to their own strategies.
  5. Market analysis, which delves deeper into market trends and, based on Lecko customer experiences, analysis of the solutions from key leaders.

In more than a decade of working in the SharePoint space, one lesson I have learned is that one solution never meets the need of every use case. Companies need some degree of technological agility to meet all needs. 

This requires a bit of homework to understand both business requirements and cultural needs — and to understand what is available from the vendor and partner ecosystem. Even if you find the right tools, you still face the challenge of integrating various collaborative technologies. But with small wins — as the report advises — your company can be on its way towards its digital future.