Every time we have a new project, we start it the exact same way: by FIRST studying the customers’ systems, process, and needs. We call this process the Discovery Phase. Its engagements have multiple components, including meetings with multiple departments, multiple stakeholders, job shadowing, data analysis, and more. Enterprises have complex, integrated systems and it takes time to understand how these systems work and where the real best value lies. Besides, you cannot start any changes without first understanding the current state of technology and innovation.
In order to properly run through the Discovery Phase, it’s important to keep these three things in mind:
- There are no two companies exactly the same
- There are no two companies working exactly the same
- There are no two companies producing exactly the same product (or service)
VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS
If an enterprise company wants to move forward, & really wants to do something with a new technology vendor particularly, Discovery should and must be done! During this stage we as DeepDive Technology Group check the systems, learn how applications are interconnected, whether there are any security issues or not, etc. It’s a large list of activities which we’ve developed over time, and remains as dynamic as it must in today’s fast-changing world. The question is not only what a particular client needs, but how to implement your solution in the way it works best for the end-client. If you create a platform, without knowing how their applications work and how they ‘talk to each other’, how can your product help a client or their end-users? Will it help at all or perhaps only do harm? If you build all the infrastructure with the perfect architecture and everything, but you don’t pay attention to the security loopholes, is it really a perfect product?
Each project must be started with Discovery.
When can you skip Discovery? Only if/when you have already worked with a client for a really long time, and you know their systems, their processes, infrastructure, KPIs…if you have already helped them to build their digital roadmap. Then you might not need a Discovery Engagement for every single project. However…as soon as it’s been 1 year since your last true-activity with a client, that answer’s changed. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to do a several-week or several-month Discovery phase like you perhaps did originally, but at least one day must be spent to see where you left off, what’s changed, what their new challenges are, and where they’d currently like to be.
“Discovery means understanding how we – as technology leaders – can bring the real value”
– Misha Hanin, DeepDive Technology Group CEO & Founder
REAL DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION…BEYOND BUZZ-WORDS
Different research defines 6 main stages of digital transformation :
- Business as Usual – set perspectives, define the approach, what changes to try first
- Present and Active – first experiments, whether ideas work or not
- Formalized – more experiments and bolder transformation decisions
- Strategic – different units and departments collaborate, building strategic roadmaps
- Converged – new structures start to form, all processes, roles and models are setting
- Innovative and Adaptive – the last stage of transformation when everything is put on new rails
Others suggest there are four  or even three stages, but frankly, they all involve the same activities. These stages are quite reasonable – *IF* a company is *NOT* going to make significant changes, and can solely rely on their in-house teams completing reasonably-routine tasks. They set forth the changes they want, and then experiment with what works for them, and what doesn’t. Slowly but steadily they go…and that’s okay.
But if there is a need for REAL digital transformation – beyond buzz-words (and for most businesses, the answer should be YES…), that’s a completely separate story. Such an approach as outlined above simply won’t work. Especially, when you’re a “technology company.” You can not just come to a client and say, “well, we’ll try a few things and then we’ll see what’s working”.
Discovery in and of itself is actually not about experiments! It’s truly about first understanding WHAT needs to be done, and to begin exploring ways HOW it could be done. This is how you bring the best value to a customer. If need be, you’ll create a brand new solution already with a strong understanding that it works. Of course, experiments are needed…but these experiments are not intended to prove whether there’s a problem worth solving; they’re for measuring and identifying the best methods for solving them!
STORY FROM THE TRENCHES
DeepDive once had an experience with a large investment fund specialized in digital assets which were required to monitor transactions across 11 different blockchains – simultaneously.
The customer initially wanted us to create gateways to these unique blockchains one by one. Following the all-important Discovery Phase of the project, we saw a much better way. Not only did we recognize that the customer’s suggested approach would cost them a huge amount of time and money, but also it would create a massive technical nightmare, high maintenance, and additional challenges for even end-users.
Our Discovery Engagement was what informed us that there was a better way. As many integration, migration, and connectivity projects as DeepDive has done, no two clients, processes or products function precisely the same.
We ultimately created a new ecosystem that allowed our investment fund client to connect through one singular gateway to 11 of the most popular blockchains in the world – simultaneously – and monitor transactions in real time. Our cool client actually became the first company in the United States performing financial audits on digital finance transactions that were happening across multiple blockchains. Moreover, we also solved certain security issues while working with their line of business applications. THIS is what Discovery provides; not only solving the customer’s original perception of the problem and solution…but going far beyond what the customer has identified by first understanding the company, processes, and frameworks in place for which the problem and solution should originate from.
To conclude, we’ll repeat one more time: when you start a new project, ‘Discovery’ should and must be done. Knowing all the processes and systems of your customer is the only way to bring the real value. In the end you’ll have a satisfied customer you saved money and time for, and very possibly a loyal, long-term partner. Win-win situation, isn’t it?
 Prophet, “The Six Stages of Digital Transformation” https://www.prophet.com/2016/04/the-six-stages-of-digital-transformation/
 Inform, Interview with Michael Lewrick, “The four phases of digital transformation” https://inform.tmforum.org/digital-transformation-and-maturity/2018/08/digital-leadership-qa-michael-lewrick-speaker-best-selling-author-design-thinking-playbook/