The Digital Service Factory is becoming a must-have for many businesses around the world. Unfortunately, building a DSF is easier said than done. Countless business leaders are finding out first-hand how tricky this kind of project can be. And even more are running into issues on their DSF project’s budget and timeline. But what exactly is a Digital Service Factory? And how can leaders plan better and boost their company’s digital transformation capabilities to maximize their ROI?

By Senthil Ramani, François-Paul Goarin and Jérôme Gotty

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It is not easy to build a Digital Service Factory and guide the company's digital transformation. These seven principles can help you.

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The Digital Service Factory (DSF) is a new business unit dedicated to digital transformation. It’s part of the wider topic of change management and supports the business during organizational change. It’s built to drive digital from the inside out and put companies at the forefront of the digital renaissance. Many organizations around the world and across all industries are already building their own DSFs. But getting the DSF right isn’t as straightforward as one might think.

Business leaders are under immense pressure to deliver results. Most are aware of the challenges associated with delivering on the promises of digital. And it’s possible that a high number have already been burnt by underperforming projects before. Therefore they have taken a more cautious approach to digital. Change leadership is often hard, but the added pressure of getting digital right can make things even more difficult.


A risk worth taking

The main goal, in this case, is to build the DSF and guide the company’s digital transformation. But as leaders with experience in driving digital know, this area of business brings its own set of unique challenges. Making the right choices for the organization will always be a tough decision. And with so many new technologies and an ever-growing selection of platforms and partners twice as much.

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As leaders with experience in driving digital know, this area of business brings its own set of unique challenges.

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How can business leaders feel confident they’ve made the right choice by investing in a DSF decision? And what about early-stage errors and mistakes, the majority of which will be hard to correct later and may jeopardize the project? If the DSF project runs over time and budget or doesn’t deliver expected results, our leaders could find themselves in hot water.

Should they succeed, however, they will enable their organization’s digital transformation. They will help future proof the business and ensure it is ready to leverage every opportunity of the burgeoning digital era. So how do business leaders ensure that both the DSF and company’s overall digital transformation is a success? They must focus on the key principles that will guide the entire journey to digital.


It’s all about strategy and execution

The principles for strategy and the principles for execution are essential components for any successful digital transformation. And they are a necessity for setting up a Digital Service Factory. Determining these principles will help business leaders to make smart choices about the objectives they pursue. The principles provide clarity on which strategies to adopt for the DSF efforts. They identify the ideal initiatives for the DSF. And they help when picking the right projects to deliver against said initiatives.

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We have managed a high volume of DSF projects over the past several years. Thanks to our experience in this area, we were able to devise 33 single steps to success. We then grouped these steps into seven principles to make them easier to apply in the business environment. It’s important to remember that the DSF isn’t a miracle cure for digital woes. But it can be valuable and help future proof the company.

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Seven helpful principles in making the Digital Service Factory a success.

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In all our projects, we’ve found that these seven principles are very helpful in making the DSF and overall digital transformation successful:

  1. Adopt a tight strategy, loosely held approach and execute quickly. Digital transformation requires execution to inform strategy if the strategy is to succeed. And it has to be swift to build momentum. Success stems from light but focused planning and agile execution.
  2. Focus on true transformation. Whenever facing a choice between initiatives that may yield incremental improvements in the existing business vs. initiatives that will infuse the company with something completely new, always opt for the latter.
  3. Choose well-supported initiatives over those with high potential. Why? Because nothing builds momentum better than strong sponsors and dedicated teams and momentum are what’s needed here. Those high potentials (but also high effort) initiatives will only drag teams down and sap their enthusiasm.
  4. Be scientific about betting. When the time comes to pick specific projects for an initiative, always be scientific. Filter every option through the same clear set of criteria and never compromise. If you do, emotions and politics will come into play and—even worse—it will become much harder to extract insights and learnings from the effort.
  5. Design-think everything. It’s almost impossible to realize the full value of a DSF if the initiatives and projects are built around without empathy for people. As a result, it’s essential that budgets and briefs allow for human-centric experience design. Likewise, you must manage expectations and timelines around the fact that it takes time to change human behavior—don't rush it.
  6. Don’t just measure value, hunt for it. Digital projects and initiatives tend to have much more value potential than they may seem to offer. In response to this, you should make it a habit to review and revisit targets and metrics to find, and capture, known and unknown value opportunities.
  7. Handle FOMO the right way. Once a DSF effort starts to gain momentum, FOMO (fear of missing out) will kick in. There will be a lot of pressure to take on more initiatives and projects. But executives must resist this temptation, with both empathy (“I see why this could be a great initiative…”) and authority based on principles (“…but we’re not taking this now because…”). This is very important because if they do not handle FOMO properly, the business will soon find itself suffering from scope creep.

We highly recommend adopting the seven principles for any business that wants to build a Digital Service Factory and boost the organization’s overall digital transformation. These principles will help business leaders to stay on top of the company’s digital efforts and will help to ensure things run as smoothly, and quickly, as possible.

About the author


Senthil Ramani, François-Paul Goarin and Jérôme Gotty 

Senthil is a Managing Director and Head of AI for Growth Markets at Accenture and is an expert in digital transformation and delivering value from AI at enterprise scale. Follow him on LinkedIn.

François-Paul is Managing Director at Accenture and leads the Energy, Utilities and Chemicals Industries. Get in contact with him on LinkedIn.

Jérôme is Managing Director at Accenture and leads Energy, Utilities, Chemicals & Natural Resources Technology & Digital in France. Meet him on LinkedIn

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