Fear is holding too many business leaders back from embracing digital transformation.
Despite widespread acknowledgement that businesses need to embrace digital transformation, a recent report found that 59% of companies are at a “digital impasse”. The Drum, in partnership with cloud provider, Akamai, conducted extensive C-suite research to discover that risk and fear and holding back businesses, preventing digital innovation.
International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that spending on digital transformation products and services will exceed $1.7 trillion in 2018, a 42% increase in 2017 spending. One of the main challenges, for organisations wanting to put these investments to good use, is making the cultural shifts necessary to transition into a digital future.
Failure is all too common for those who've attempted a digital transformation project. Fujitsu conducted a study which found that “1 in 4 organizations have experienced a failed digital project in the last two years - at an average cost of $655,000.”
In our experience working with clients, digital transformation projects don't start with the technology. Figuring out the technology required to implement a project is part of the solution, but not all. Businesses need to go through a transformational process, which is something you can do if you’ve attempted this and it hasn't gone well, or if you want to go ahead with digital transformation.
How to get Digital Transformation on track
Starting with a digital transformation project isn’t just about turning an analogue process into a digital one.
Start with breaking down a series of internal processes. Review them. Ask: Is there a way we can make these more efficient? How do they fit in with other processes and systems?
Some aspects of these might already be digital. Others will still be analogue. Look at the big picture reasons why you need to replace and improve systems and processes? What will happen if you don't make changes? Can you reduce costs? Make the customer journey smoother? Maintain your compliance with legislative demands, such as GDPR in Europe?
Whatever the reasons, you need to clearly explain those internally - not only so that stakeholders and budget holders understand them - but your staff. Cultural buy-in needs to happen at the team and individual level, because ultimately, once a project is implemented, this is going to change how people work, the systems they use and how they interact with customers.
Without buy-in, it can be difficult to make a success of a transformation. No matter how much is invested and how much senior managers want to make it work.
Skills gaps are one of the main reasons organisations’ struggle to implement new processes and systems. Staff may need to be retrained. Some may go elsewhere. Some are going to struggle, especially if they're not very IT literate, or if you are introducing digital systems to a previously analogue role.
Make sure the training and support exists to guide staff more easily into using new systems and applications. Working with user-friendly systems will help make this transition easier for everyone. Especially if staff are expected to use new apps on their phone - the design and user-experience will play an important role in how easy, or not, team members get used to new apps.
Without a roadmap, managers and staff won’t clearly understand the role they will play, or how what they are doing is part of the bigger picture.
Ideally, a roadmap should start with your teams and managers.
Find out how new processes and systems could make their jobs easier? How managers can make team members more productive by transforming and improving aspects of their work that are inefficient and take up too much time?
Buy-in that starts with team members taking an initiative, asking for changes that can be implemented will travel further and faster through an organisation than buy-in that is forced on the team from senior managers who don't know enough of the difficulties frontline staff encounter.
Roadmaps should include SMART objectives. Giving your teams a clear sense of direction, a reason behind what is being done and a timescale, so that everyone knows the aims and when you expect to reach the destination, is an effective way to overcome objections and increase the chances of success.
Has enough been set aside?
Does it include training and support?
Are we working with the right IT partners?
Unrealistic budgets and timelines have derailed many a digital transformation project.
Make sure you are asking the right questions at the outset, and that budgets include specific SMART objectives and outcomes aligned with the amounts set aside along the journey. Know to watch out for mission creep and potential overspends, to avoid a project stagnating along the way, and set milestones that include visible outcomes and wins to keep the momentum going.
Undertaking any significant internal project can and does include challenges. Organisations are afraid if they don't do something they will be left behind. And yet, when many try and start, fear, a vague strategy, cultural roadblocks, insufficient training and budget hold them back. An awareness of these challenges and working with the right IT partner are some of the most effective ways to ensure your digital transformation can get back on track.
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