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Avoid These Mistakes If You Wish to Succeed with Digital Transformation


Tarulata Champawat

November 27, 2017

The pace of adoption of new technologies is increasing phenomenally. To give a simple example, it took the humble telephone decades to reach 50% of the households, cell phones were adopted in less than five years. Clearly, organizations across the globe are getting increasingly focused on anticipating new technology trends in order to stay ahead of the curve. As we enter the golden era of technological innovation, digital transformation is moving from being a buzzword to an organizational necessity.

In order to compete in this digital world, businesses have to transform and make way to adopt new technologies that will change the way businesses function. Executive Chairman of Cisco Systems John Chambers states that “at least 40% of businesses will die in the next 10 years… if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies”.

Clearly, organizations across the globe have reason to put digital transformation as a top priority in their corporate agenda. Chief executives of global companies have already started placing digital transformation in the heart of their corporate strategy. The reason behind this push towards digital transformation stems from the promise of gaining the ability to compete with emerging technologies and new business models and the capability to uncover new business opportunities as well as revenue streams. At the same time, it is also true that implementing the digital transformation of the enterprise is a difficult task and has to be approached with careful planning. In this blog, we take a look at a few mistakes to avoid in order to succeed with digital transformation.

1. Inadequate goal setting

Digital transformation is more than just automating business processes or having an app for everything. When moving towards digital transformation organizations must have a clearly outlined set of goals and objectives. It demands a complete rethinking of how an organization engages with its customers and how they deliver value to them. While digital transformation initiatives do demand a sense of urgency from an organization, it becomes equally important to first identify the hierarchy of the transformation process so that it can be executed with precision without disrupting business.

2. Confining Digital transformation to just IT and marketing departments

Successful digital transformation initiates aim at transforming all departments within the organization. While it might be tempting to believe that digital transformation can be achieved by implementing it in just the IT and marketing departments, for a successful initiative, organizations must aim at implementing at across the length and breadth of the departments. It is only when this is done that all departments can work in conjunction and evolve and stay in step with today’s dynamic business environment.

3. Evaluating digital transformation success on traditional metrics

It is very important to remember that digital transformation is an ongoing process. It is not a project that has a set completion date as a short-term project. Thus traditional yardsticks such as ROI that are focused on the short-term gains are not relevant when evaluating the success of digital transformation initiatives. Companies have to look at the non-traditional metrics which evaluate the measure of digital adoption such as digital engagement levels or new registration of customer via digital channels etc. to measure the success of digital transformation.

4. Technology is everything

Technology is a great enabler of digital transformation. However, making the entire initiative and putting technology at the heart of digital transformation will hardly lead to success. Why? Simply because given the variety of technology options at our disposal it can be easy to get excited about the technology and not think about the bigger picture – the benefit to the customer. When organizations put customer experience at the heart of their digital transformation initiatives they can radically improve their approach to delivering better customer experiences and create products that are more useful. Doing so impacts the company’s bottom line in a positive manner and help them meet their digital transformation goals with ease.

Technology is also only one part of digital transformation. It is important to remember that business change and its transformation is the other, and to an extent, the more relevant part. For successful digital transformation, organizations need the IT department and the business to work together to deliver a solution that considers the need of all parties concerned.

5. Taking a bottom-up approach

Research from Capgemini and MIT shows that for the success of digital transformation projects it is essential to take a top-down approach. Digital transformation has to have strong advocates in the organization’s leadership since digital transformation is not a departmental initiative but an organizational one. It is only when the leadership is invested in the process of digital transformation that it can be implemented across the organization and get employee buy-in. Digital transformation demands a culture of collaboration. Thus it becomes imperative for the leadership to implement that change, foster a sense of collaboration and innovation into the very fabric of the organization. It is not possible for digital transformation initiatives to be successful unless there is a complete culture shift… and this culture shift has to be led by the leadership for it to get accepted by the employees.

Organizations embarking on a digital transformation journey have to aim at achieving digital fluency. This digital fluency is not about mastering a variety of technologies or investing in the shiny new technology in the market. It is about achieving the capability of articulating the value of these digital technologies to the future of the organization.

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