Digital Transformation: Tips for Moving Your Social Good Organization into the Future

May 31, 2019 Joe Gianoni

Many of us remember going to the video store to rent a movie. How about the calculator that used to sit in the junk drawer in your kitchen? (Everybody has one of those drawers, right?) How about getting directions from a friend for driving to a new place or printing them out from MapQuest?  All of these are now apps on your phone and represent a small way digital transformation has impacted our day to day lives.

As a fan of science fiction, I often think about these things as the lines between the physical world and the digital world increasingly narrows. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in just the past twenty years. What about what’s ahead? What about the post-smartphone era – what will that look like? Now that your gears are turning, we can agree that technology is developing at outstanding, breakneck speeds, and organizations and businesses need to keep up or risk being left as a memory. Sorry Blockbuster.

In the 100th episode of The sgENGAGE Podcast, special guest President and CEO of Blackbaud Mike Gianoni joined host Steve MacLaughlin to discuss digital transformation. From how it’s impacting our daily lives, to what successful digital transformation looks like within a social good organization today, to how to strengthen your organization to maintain flexibility for whatever changes are to come, there’s valuable information in this interview no matter your professional role or walk of life. Here are some of the important points that Mike and Steve discuss during the interview.


Digital transformation and the workplace

  • To say the world is changing isn’t enough. The world has changed. The quality of digital technology available to us as consumers has accustomed us to expect more out of our day to day encounters, and to expect the software we work with be as good as consumer platforms.
  • Digital transformation has also trained the workforce preemptively to be accustomed to interacting with a mobile device. People are used to using quality software on the go. As Mike puts it “It’s not new to put a mobile device in someone’s hand at work because it’s in their hand outside of work.”


Digital transformation from a leadership perspective

  • Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking it’s the IT person’s job to drive digital transformation. It’s actually the CEO’s job or the executive director’s job to drive it because you have to change the entire workflow to maximize the efficacy of your software, not just the software itself.
  • The IT folks’ responsibilities obviously will change as well, empowering them to be thought leaders internally. They can and should help the organization think about what’s possible through the use of technology as you move away from having to maintain internal systems to working in the cloud and opening your organization up for rapid process evolution.
  • With more automation available and less staff required for maintenance tasks, things organizations have done the same way for years need to be reexamined at a leadership team level. Your employees should be freed up for higher level thought exercise and improving ways to drive your mission while not being bogged down updating spreadsheets.


And finally, a quote from Mike on his personal experience driving digital transformation within Blackbaud.

“We made massive changes internally to the company. We had – going back five years ago and earlier – multiple duplicate departments doing the same thing. And just to put in an information system and drive digital transformation wouldn’t work because we had, pick a particular department, and maybe we have 12 of those departments and each had between 10 and 50 people doing the same thing. They had different compensation systems, they had different success metrics, different operational metrics, different delivery methodologies. And so we made organizational changes to have common compensation systems, common operating metrics, common program metrics, common organization design, while we were putting in information systems to go through a digital transformation. The head of IT couldn’t do that because those 12 or 15 groups didn’t report to IT. They reported somewhere else to a peer. And so to go through a proper digital transformation, we had to make changes to everything in the company so we could take advantage of the new cloud solutions we put in to run our company internally…We couldn’t just have the head of IT say “okay, you go do digital transformation,” because all of the other efficiencies would not have happened.”

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