Cathy leads the Microsoft industrial solutions enablement efforts in Asia, engaging strategic customers and partners to accelerate digital transformation through Microsoft metaverse portfolio. Deh-Hui has been with Microsoft for close to a decade working with customers across different Asian markets and is now the Principal Program Manager in Microsoft’s Customer Innovation team in APJ. She is insightful and dedicated to help stakeholders with practical yet innovative advice amidst increasingly complex markets.
After helping countless industry partners improve their business processes and operational efficiency, Deh-Hui and Cathy believe that some elements of program management (soft skills, technical know-how, and industry depth, among others) are crucial in uncovering the right digital transformation engagement for customers and accelerating that.
- Digital transformation is a critical endeavor for organizations in today's fast-paced business environment, driven by increasing changes in world politics, economy, and environment. The demand for digital transformation is still rising in the Asia Pacific region, as the economy is growing rapidly: economic growth in APAC is forecasted to be 4.3% in 2023, even stronger than 4.0% in 2022 given the uncertain global environment. (IMF)
- The current global economic climate is characterized by increased uncertainty and volatility, leading to growing demands for Asian businesses to digitally transform. By embracing an open mindset in building a better future in the digital transformation age, companies can better navigate themselves through changing market conditions. (McKinsey)
- Given the uncertainties and complexities involved, program managers play a critical role in driving the successful implementation of digital transformation initiatives within an organization. Not only are they responsible for leading cross-functional teams and ensuring that projects are completed on time and within scope while aligning with the overall business strategy. The program managers are also in charge of bridging the gaps and connecting the dots between business and technology. This duty requires much more than technical skills and industry knowledge from program managers, who need to have growth mindsets to elevate the organization to the next level. (According to Cathy’s sharing)
Why is digital transformation so difficult?
- While digital transformation is top of mind for most organizations, it is much more difficult when the rubber meets the road. And here are some reasons why it is difficult.
- Unclear strategy: Without a well-defined goal, it can be difficult for organizations to prioritize initiatives and measure progress. (According to Cathy’s sharing)
- Employee resistance: Employees may push back either because they do not fully understand the benefits or detriments of new technology, making it difficult to gain their buy-in and support. (Forbes)
- Limited resources: Projects can be costly and time-consuming. Also, organizations may not have the personnel to fully implement them. (Harvard Business Review)
- Data integration: Integrating new systems with existing ones is a complex process, and managing data effectively can be a challenge. (According to Deh-Hui’s sharing)
- Measuring progress & conclusion: Showing the outcome of digital transformation initiatives can be difficult. Plus, sometimes organizations may struggle to justify the costs and personnel costs. (According to Deh-Hui’s sharing)
- Lastly, implementing digital transformation at scaleis often the most challenging aspect of the entire process, requiring careful planning and execution.
- Scalability: The infrastructure must be able to scale to accommodate the increasing volume and complexity of data while aligning all the stakeholder’s mindsets at a certain level to build up the sustainability of the project. (According to Deh-Hui’s sharing)
What are the qualities of a successful program manager?
- Given the challenges to digital transformation, we observe that some elements of program management (soft skills, technical know-how, and industry depth, among others) are crucial in uncovering the right digital transformation engagement for customers and accelerating that.
- PM (Program Managers) in digital transformation requires a combination of technical and leadership skills. Other than technical acumen, there are some key strengths and mindsets needed for a PM to be successful in digital transformation including:
- Visionary: the ability to see the big picture and understand how the project fits into the overall business strategy. (According to Cathy’s sharing)
- Leadership: the capability to lead cross-functional teams, effectively managing and motivating team members. (World Economic Forum)
- Communication: the ability to effectively convey honest feedback to stakeholders at all levels of the organization. (The Enterprisers Project)
- Adaptability: the capability to adapt to changing circumstances and pivot quickly when necessary. (Financial Times)
- Authenticity: being brave to identify and resolve issues or consequences as they arise. (According to Deh-Hui’s sharing)
- Program managers with digital transformation planning and human-centric mindset execution experiences are highly valuable for organizations in rapidly changing environments.