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Let’s face it, digital transformation is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot these days. Everyone wants to embrace the latest technologies and stay ahead of the curve. But the reality is, many organisations struggle to achieve the desired outcomes from their digital transformation initiatives.

It’s like having all the right ingredients for a gourmet dish but somehow ending up with a bland outcome. That’s why it’s crucial to take a closer look at why these strategies may be missing the mark and explore practical solutions to set yourself up for success.

In this not-so-short-but-kind-of-short article, I’ll peel back the layers (banana pun, ingredients — come on that was good!) and examine the key factors that often contribute to the failure of digital transformation strategies. We’ll dig into the importance of aligning people, processes, and technology to create a harmonious transformation journey.

So, if you’ve been scratching your head wondering why your digital initiatives aren’t hitting the mark, read on because you’ll enjoy this — or it’ll bore you to sleep and I cured insomnia.

First of all, what is digital transformation?

Digital transformation strategies are like game plans that organisations create to make the most of digital technologies, processes, and capabilities. The goal is to bring about significant changes in how they operate, interact with customers, and even the overall way they do business. These strategies aim to achieve specific objectives that align with the organisation’s vision, like making operations more efficient, improving customer experiences, fostering innovation, or reaching new markets.

When businesses embrace digital transformation, they can adjust to changing market dynamics, take advantage of emerging opportunities, and meet the evolving expectations of their customers. The strategies involved provide a roadmap for organisations to navigate this transformative journey, helping them stay competitive, adaptable, and ready for the future.

The BIG problem

The problem is most organisations can get it wrong, which can lead to some pretty negative consequences:

  1. Wasted digital investments and misplaced resources: Digital transformation requires investments in technology, talent, and processes. If the strategies are off the mark, all those investments can go down the drain. It’s like pouring money into a leaky bucket. Nobody wants that, right?
  2. Poor customer experiences and a disconnected brand experience: Digital transformation should be all about improving the customer experience. But if the strategies miss the mark, customers may end up with frustrating experiences. They might feel disconnected from the brand or struggle with clunky interfaces and inefficient processes. That’s not the kind of impression you want to make on your customers.
  3. Missed opportunities to drive revenue and sustainable business growth: Digital transformation is about leveraging the power of technology to drive business growth. If the strategies are flawed, you’ll likely miss out on valuable opportunities to increase revenue and secure sustainable growth. And let’s face it, missed opportunities can be pretty costly in the long run.
  4. Difficult to gain or maintain competitive advantage: In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, staying ahead of the competition is crucial. If your digital transformation strategies miss the mark, it can be challenging to gain or maintain a competitive advantage. You might find yourself struggling to keep up with industry trends, falling behind innovative competitors, and losing market share.

So why do organisations get it wrong?

With anything, of course there are many factors and they’re individual to organisations. But after speaking with a bunch of business owners, from small to large organisations, here’s the most common reasons on why they get it wrong:

  1. Talent-skills gap: Acquiring the right agency or developing the right talent with the necessary digital skills is crucial for successful digital transformation. Organisations need to look at hiring new vendors and upskilling existing employees or hiring new talent to fill skill gaps. Ensuring a workforce with the right capabilities is essential to drive the transformation agenda.
  2. Not having a customer-centric approach: Placing the customer at the center of the transformation strategy is essential. Understanding customer needs, preferences, and expectations is crucial for shaping digital initiatives that deliver value and enhance customer experiences.
  3. Wrong technology: Selecting and implementing appropriate digital technologies is a critical component. This includes leveraging cloud computing, data analytics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), and other emerging technologies to enable innovation, automation, and data-driven decision-making.
  4. Missing data strategy: Establishing a robust data strategy is key to harnessing the power of data. This includes data collection, storage, analysis, and security, with a focus on deriving actionable insights to inform strategic decision-making.

So with all of that said, how do organisations get it right? It’s all in three simple words.

People, Process, Technology

By focusing on these elements, organisations can ensure a successful and comprehensive transformation. Let’s dive into each one:

1. People: People are the heart and soul of any digital transformation journey. It’s all about understanding how employees, customers, and other stakeholders will be affected by the changes that come with implementing new technologies. Here are some things to think about:

  • Skills and capabilities: Take a look at the agency you work with and the skills your employees currently have and identify any gaps. You might need to hire a new vendor, provide training and even hire new talent to bridge those gaps.
  • Change management: Support your employees through the changes by communicating with them, offering training opportunities, and encouraging collaboration. It’s important to help them adapt to the new digital landscape.
  • User-centric approach: Keep your users in mind when implementing digital solutions. Make sure they are designed to be user-friendly, address their needs, and provide a great user experience.

2. Process: To make the most of digital transformation, you’ll need to review and optimise your existing processes. It’s about rethinking how work gets done, finding inefficiencies, and leveraging technology to streamline operations. Consider the following:

  • Process analysis: Take a close look at your current workflows and identify areas for improvement. Are there any bottlenecks or unnecessary steps that can be eliminated or automated?
  • Automation and optimisation: Look for opportunities to automate tasks using technologies like AI or workflow management systems. This can save time and make your processes more efficient.
  • Agile methodologies: Embrace agile practices that allow for flexibility and adaptation. Break down projects into smaller, manageable tasks, and iterate as you go. This way, you can adapt to changes quickly and continuously improve.

The key with Process is you need to look at things with a different lens. It’s one of the things that organisations particularly love us for. When you’re part of the process in an organisation, it can be difficult to see where the bottlenecks are, and what the impact of them are. You might be losing time, money, revenue — whatever it is — without even knowing it. You need to be able to take a step back and look at your processes with the lens of someone that is not within the organisation. Look out for high-frequency, high-impact processes that are hindering the organisation.

3. Technology: Tech comes last! Remember that as it’s super important. The technology comes last. People and process MUST come first, and when it does come to tech, consider these factors:

  • Technology assessment: Evaluate your current technology landscape and identify any gaps. Then, choose the right solutions that fit your transformation objectives.
  • Integration and interoperability: Ensure that the new technologies seamlessly integrate with your existing systems and infrastructure. This allows for smooth data exchange and collaboration across platforms.
  • Scalability and future-proofing: Select technologies that can grow with your organisation and adapt to future advancements. You don’t want to outgrow your solutions too quickly.

Don’t forget the “secret sauce”

This all sounds well and good, but let’s say you follow the people, process and technology strategy and don’t see results. I’ve found in my experience that it comes down to what I think of as the secret sauce, which is absolutely fundamental: the culture shift.

Digital transformation requires a cultural shift within the organisation. It involves changing mindsets, overcoming resistance to change, and fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration, and continuous learning. Organisations need to actively address cultural barriers and engage employees at all levels to drive successful transformation.

So by now, hopefully I haven’t put you to sleep and I’ve given you a headstart on how you can identify why your digital transformation strategies haven’t worked, and what you can do to make them successful. Always remember that digital transformation requires a holistic and well-planned approach, involving people, processes, technology, and collaboration. With that, you can achieve:

  • A greater return on your investments
  • Accelerated innovation and revenue growth
  • Your strategic objectives faster
  • Customer experiences that drive conversion
  • Capitalise on new opportunities and outpace your competition

Now if you really want to propel your digital transformation strategy, I’ve said for for years that apps are the catalysts for successful digital transformation strategies. They enable businesses to enhance customer experiences, optimise processes, leverage data insights, and foster collaboration. By understanding the importance of apps in driving digital transformation and incorporating them strategically into your strategies, you can unlock new opportunities, stay competitive, and achieve your business goals.

But that’s another article for another day. Until then, autobots — transform and rise up!