Digital Transformation – as a necessary and continuous disruption

by | Apr 21, 2022


Written by Daniela Chetcuti

Digitising our business processes and thus modernizing the IT systems holding them, is a given to thrive in an increasingly digital economy.  Those who do not will slowly become irrelevant. Due to the complex nature of MITA’s business, our initial believe was to primarily implement new digital technologies to support business process re-engineering. 

But the more time passed, and the more discussions ensued, the more it became evident that digital transformation is more about strategy and mindset rather than about technology.  That is – we must first change the way we think, before changing anything else.

You can read about the term digital transformation in many literatures of high repute. It has become a buzz word, which in essence means, the upgrading of systems, platforms, and software to meet today’s modern and ever demanding business needs. In MITA’s case, it is about dealing with phasing out and re-writing core government systems – that is – complex existing software and infrastructure to move to the cloud.  However, it is a misconception to believe that technology alone will transform the business and deliver on all expectations.  It is not the technology that will improve business. People must be receptive to new technologies, adaptive to new ways of working and achieving new outcomes as a result.

But that is not all.  McKinsey’s work in the public sector has shown that there is a science to leading effective transformations.  80% fail to meet their targets, take too long to realise them, or cannot sustain them in the long run.  The rain of failure is also very high due to the nature of challenges faced in the public sector, such as the breadth and diversity of its stakeholders; missing investments in capability building; fear, given the high risk of failure; myths about the applicability of transformation and the time horizons of political mandates.  Furthermore, 70% of these failures result from insufficient attention to the way organisations pursue their goals; and what thus drives success – or failure, is how well leaders manage the effort to implement them.  The right approach to execution is essential for scaled-up, rapid, and sustainable change, and it takes committed leadership to drive it.


Therefore, a successful digital transformation requires a conscious mindset makeover.  It is about a business movement that supports engineering the right culture and business change processes for elevated client experiences that are underpinned; but not made, by technology. A shift in mindset is the key to implementing new ways of working, retaining top talent, and creating a resilient, motivated workforce. These actions are congruent with MITA’s Core values, where people are central to the agency’s success. They are about believing that continuous improvement is part of the drive towards cultivating innovation and creativity as part of our daily work. This in return will help us feel empowered to continuously provide sound solutions to our clients incorporating robust and secure technology whilst giving the client a peace of mind due to our long-standing professional reputation.

Accompanied by research, MITA is working on several fronts in its digital transformation journey.   Although we are a governmental agency, and unlike the private sector, we do not operate for a profit, our clients remain our lifeline; and as such, we need to change the way we perceive their value.  Instead of them being a one-way value flow, clients must now be seen as a dynamic network, accompanied by other potential stakeholders to MITA and with reciprocal value flows, ie: them being part of the solution. This will enforce our value that MITA facilitates the implementation of central government initiatives/strategies across vertical government services (e.g.: Person Register to enable implementation of the once only principle)

Equally important is the consideration of talent.  In the legacy world, competition for talent was a linear continuum, easy to acquire, manage and retain.  In a digital-first world, where the search for talent has become a battlefield, made competition extremely fierce.  Being in the run for the ideal talent is today a matter of business survival.  Compounding to this challenge is MITA’s current drive to modernize legacy systems to Cloud Native, service-oriented architecture and technology, requiring skills which were previously untapped.  Moreover, Government is enabling digital service across its entities, to provide citizens and businesses with simpler compliance and improved services.  This requires middle management to have increased business acumen besides being adept at delivering tech- solutions.  Our middle management layer mostly constitutes of professionals who have grown from a technical role, making intangible skills essential to now help drive this digital transformation forward. MITA is thus moving towards instilling the notion of Business coaching, to help mindsets and improve the building of thought-processes.

Having a growth mindset and align our behaviour to revolve around this, is essential for success.  One of MITA’s top priorities is to nurture a culture of fail first, fail fast outlook, where the focus is to learn from failure and thus by doing.   Allowing employees to make space and time for self-reflection to find their passion and make it their every-day work, will help them exit their comfort zone into growth opportunities   

Data is indeed the new currency of digital businesses and another key actor when talking about digital transformation.  From a legacy point of view, data is seen as being expensive to generate, store and manage in current operational silos.  However, it is again a mindset change into seeing data as being continuously generated, as a significant resource when connecting it across silos for decision making, and as a key intangible asset for value creation in today’s digital era.

Another key factor contributing to digital transformation is innovation, where MITA is also fostering a trend of ‘innovation every day’.  Within the legacy environment, innovation was something that required extreme caution because testing ideas was expensive, slow, and difficult both from a monetary point of view, duration of implementation and in terms of stake due to high risk in failure.  Focus was on the development of a “finished” product.  Whereas the mindset must change to view innovation as a means of getting it wrong at the early stages of the project and then getting it right will mean the true way forward and without hesitation.  This will require brainstorming for ideas first, testing and validating the ideas next so that the focus will be on developing the minimum viable product and iterating after launch.  Value, another hot digital transformation component, is very much associated with innovation. In the legacy world, value was often about optimising and changing business processes judged by its impact on current business.  In contrast, value should be viewed as being defined by changing customer needs.  MITA’s value is in the uncovering of the next opportunity to generate yet again further customer value. 

Truly, transformation is a continuum – by the time you have transformed, you’re already legacy! The narrative for any digital transformation is to therefore evolve before you must, to judge and pre-empt change and create renewed value.



Truly, transformation is a continuum – by the time you have transformed, you’re already legacy! The narrative for any digital transformation is to therefore evolve before you must, to judge and pre-empt change and create renewed value. 


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