When talking about digital transformation, it’s natural that those of us working in the field focus on the positives of our work - helping businesses grow, develop new revenues and stay competitive.
However, it would be negligent to gloss over the very real barriers to transformation that organisations face, and to fail to recognise that even when businesses understand the need to embed digital, the implementation of such a project can be problematic.
New research by management consultancy A.T Kearney examines this very idea, revealing that 59% of European C-Suite executive respondents report that digital innovation has not delivered high business impact at their organisation, despite confirming that digital transformation is key to greater customer acquisition and increased revenue.
Two primary barriers are identified, with 59% of participants citing the integration of new technologies into established infrastructures, and 51% naming a corporate culture that is not ready to embrace digital technologies.
Although it’s disappointing to learn that digital transformation is not delivering impact for the respondent businesses, the two named barriers are of little surprise.
In our work at Discerning Digital, technological integration and cultural change are two of the most difficult areas to influence, and yet they are absolutely crucial to transformation at any scale.
I’m fond of saying that when it comes to digital innovation, technology isn’t everything, and indeed it isn’t, but it would be naive to discount its fundamental role.
Typically, our transformation projects begin with a strategic element but very often a need for new systems, tools or processes is quickly identified.
Many of these strategies share common elements; to grow the business, develop new products, identify new revenues or simply become leaner and faster - technology is a key enabler of all these goals.
However, even when clients agree on the need for tech investment, existing infrastructure and processes can throw up complex obstacles that can stall a transformation project, or worse, stop it in its tracks.
If this is a concern of yours, I’d advise you to:
The role of culture cannot be understated in any digital project, and we’ve seen first-hand how difficult change is without company-wide support.
There are lots of theories on the best way to facilitate change in an organisation but we firmly believe that transformation can only work when visibly supported from the top down.
Some of our key learnings on cultural change in transformation include:
The most important thing to remember is that these measures should enforce how digital supports your existing KPIs and strengthens your vision, rather than being viewed as a separate set of goals. This truly is a fundamental tenet of transformation.
Talking honestly and openly about the challenges of digital transformation should be encouraged. Transformation isn’t meant to be easy and the greatest risk of all is investing in a project without any real understanding of the potential stumbling blocks.
The insights from this research should act as a pertinent reminder of the common pitfalls in digital innovation, which while they may be challenging, are by no means insurmountable.
(This article originally appeared on Manchester Digital).