To some extent, we could blame the challenging environment for the failures.
New technologies are emerging fast. Enterprise cloud and IoT solutions are far more common today than just a few years ago. Many organizations are launching their first AI-powered applications. In the near future, virtual reality, quantum computing, and enterprise blockchains will likely experience a dramatic increase in popularity.
67% of organizations report technology skill shortages, fueling the race to find and retain the talents that can help to capture all the new opportunities. es.
More importantly, failures are often the result of how leadership responds to the challenging environments.
In our experience, digital transformation leaders tend to make three strategic mistakes when navigating digital transformations. Here are these mistakes and how to avoid them:
Strategic mistake #1: Putting technology ahead of people.
It’s tempting to think that a successful digital transformation is all about technology. That by introducing this or that solution, everything else will smoothly fall into place. In reality, a successful digital transformation success story starts with people. They are the ones using the solutions to deliver the results that will make or break the initiative.
Put first things first, i.e.
Pinpoint the WHY for your team. Define the reasons for evolving your business and the directions it needs to take in doing so.
Build a culture around innovation and agility. Your team should seek to understand and manage the risk of new technological innovations, not avoid it.
Empower your people with greater digital literacy. New technologies should improve your employee experiences, not complicate them.
Strategic mistake #2: Aiming to achieve broad, revolutionary business goals in an all-or-nothing project.
It’s exciting to imagine your business model reinvented around emerging technologies. It’s frustrating to try to achieve everything all at once. The more areas a digital transformation project involves, the greater its costs, delays, and the likelihood of failures. Attempting to change everything for everyone practically guarantees significant pushback.
Instead, get specific, think agile, and be patient. Advance your digital transformation via more manageable, shorter-term projects, where failing forward is acceptable, and experimentation is expected. Build a business case for broader initiatives by delivering measurable results like:
Growth (lead generation, conversions, sales, etc)
Operational efficiencies (productivity, cash flow, etc)
Business performance (revenue, profit, etc)
Customer metrics (NPS, CSAT, CLV, etc)
Business innovation (ideas generated, proofs of concept, etc)
Strategic mistake #3: Letting leadership, accountability, and ownership evolve as your digital transformation journey unfolds.
Everyone in your organization is involved in the ultimate success of your digital transformation. Therefore, as outlined earlier, it should include a healthy dose of both innovation and experimentation. It may seem natural to let digital transformation leaders emerge with flexibly defined responsibilities. In practice, doing so creates confusion and deadlock.
It is best to provide clear upfront definitions of who will be leading what, and to what extent. As a starting point, ensure that
C-level stakeholders commit to the overall direction of your digital transformation and
handoffs between business units are clearly defined as it progresses.
To sum up:
In order to avoid these strategic mistakes, digital transformation leaders should ensure that everyone is working together towards the planned goals. They should:
Put people first.
Put people to work on achieving specified short-term goals.
Ensure that all roles are clearly defined.