There’s a myth in today’s business world; Focusing on digitizing your entire organization will change the fortunes of your company, and that driving everything towards the digital revolution will reap the greatest rewards.
While there’s little doubt that successful digital transformations can improve performance and increase enterprise-wide growth, many companies are failing to drive true business results based on their digital transformation efforts.
Why are the success rates for digital transformation so low? Most digital transformation leaders tend to forget the business side of digital business transformation and focus too much on the digital side. This trend is happening more at the leadership level, as leaders look for the next technical trend that'll put their organization ahead of the curve instead of behind it.
There are obvious upsides to the integration of digital technology into a company’s infrastructure:
- A greater understanding of your customer through data insights
- A stronger customer experience
- Greater information security
- Automation of internal activities creating greater efficiencies
- Stronger internal collaboration
- Global scale at greater ease
- Increased agility
However, the downfalls created by a poorly managed implementation of digital tools will put any company in a much worse position than when they started.
As leaders within a company, it becomes too easy to read the latest business case or white paper that outlines the success one company had by following the digital trends. Hearing how easy it is to add the latest tech to your existing stack and the rosy picture it’s created for other similar companies can create a huge sense of FOMO. Unfortunately, much like the rosy pictures you see in your Instagram feed, it’s not usually as perfect as it seems.
Change takes place across the entire organization during a digital transformation, and it's important to understand how these change efforts will actually affect the organization, including the teams that will have to use these new technologies on a day to day basis, the partners you rely on daily, and finally, your consumers who should be your main focus when it comes to transforming any business.
When planning your digital transformation agenda, it’s important to take a number of things into consideration:
- How do I break down the organizational silos that could prevent success?
- How do you create a digital agenda that compliments your current business rather than one that completely changes it?
- How do you ensure that your critical business systems and processes won’t be negatively affected by the changes you’re making?
- How do you make sure the people who will have to deal with the changes, once implemented, are fully up to speed and are ready to change the way they work on a day to day basis?
- How do you measure the changes you’re making to the business, both positively and negatively?
The list can obviously go on, but it’s important to start with the basics, which do not include any actual digital implementation.
This leads to the greatest factor to a successful digital transformation; the leader you put in charge of it. It’s very easy to go out and recruit the latest digital wiz from a start-up or someone who’s shown success in an adjacent industry but, choosing the wrong person will always become more detrimental than picking the wrong technologies.
The goals of any digital transformation leader before they build their agenda should be:
- Understand the political silos that exist in the business
- Understand how changes have been embraced historically
- Understand who will be a change agent for them
- Understand what is mission critical to the organization
- Understand where resistance or failure may come from
Because of this, it’s important to focus on a leader who understands the business and it’s needs before their understanding of the tech that powers it. In my opinion having a more business focused transformational lead is more important than having that person understand the tech, they can build a digital-savvy team around them to help drive that.
In the end, the road to building the right digital transition agenda can create an amazing advantage for any company. A focus on the business side of the transition is imperative and the right leadership will help ensure ROI and embrace digital transformation for the most effective results. The technology is important but should be the secondary consideration, and only implemented if it drives actual business success.