Digital Transformation: 5 Reasons It Fails

You’ve been doing the same thing for the last 5 years and it’s working. You don’t have any major problems today and for the most part you are seeing the growth that your investors want. Here’s the problem – you know that what you’re doing isn’t sustainable. You are reading about other industries adopting and embracing technology, acquiring startups and moving to the cloud. Naturally, your organization decides that in order to keep up, you need to undergo a digital transformation effort. Great! Not so fast though, before diving in head first, take a page from other people’s mistakes and keep the following 5 points in mind.

1. Weak Executive Sponsorship

I am fully aware that change does not occur overnight with a top-down mandate from management. It’s also not the end-all be-all when it comes to change. At the same time, it makes a big difference when an organization’s executive team is aligned and willing to support an effort around digital transformation. This support comes in different shapes and forms. Sometimes it can be prioritizing the ask, allocating budgets or even setting expectations with investors and board members. Digital transformation requires some level of risk taking and without your teams knowing that leadership has their back, it may lead it lackluster results.

2. A High Stakes Environment

Remember when we talked about digital transformation involving a level of risk to the organization? Well, imagine taking any form of risk when the organization you are working in has turned the digital transformation effort into a high stakes game of “Sink or Swim”. High stakes environments lead to mounting pressure, burnout and severely stifles innovation. People will not try to break the mold or improve a process 10x or 20x if they fear failure. High stakes environments will often get you low results and many times you end up failing anyway because you don’t have the right mindset to succeed. This type of issue really plagues an organization’s culture making it difficult to find success in digital transformation unless the root cause is addressed.

3. Not Having The Right People

The team that has sustained business activities around where you are today is often times not enough to take you to the next level and through your organization’s digital transformation. You may need an infusion of new technical skills, mindset and attitude to be the shot in the arm to move the organization through what is often seen as a grueling effort requiring determiniation. Having the right people carry you to the finish line is key.

4. Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Often times, organizations are confident early in the digital transformation process. You see lofty goals and objects defined and announced to the public, stakeholders and management. The only problem is, the goals are often times too large and the time frames for achieving those goals are too short. Bill Gates famously said: “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

Bill Gates

Stretch goals are great. They are important to make sure you push and achieve what normally isn’t possible if you set the bar low. A the same time, it’s important to be realistic, set achievable milestones and most importantly: celebrate those small wins!

5. Focusing on Technology Rather Than Outcomes

This one is tricky. I mean the whole point of digital transformation is to adopt the latest and greatest technology right? Isn’t the idea that you don’t have to revisit technology again in 5-10 years then go through another digital transformation? I know those thoughts are ridiculous but surprisingly there are organizations that think this way. When going through a digital transformation the idea is to build a platform and cultural shift. The goal is to make it easier for ingesting and implementing new technology and processes. Having the latest and greatest isn’t as important as focusing on the outcome of improving processes, changing the culture and improving the attitude towards change. As we all know, the only constant is change. We need to be ready to respond to it as regularly as possible.

Are you starting your digital transformation journey? Book a demo with Voyager and find out how we can help!

Share this post