Digital Transformation: 10 Reasons Your IT Initiatives Are Failing


Companies have embarked on digital transformation efforts to reduce costs, increase efficiency and better serve their customers. But it is easier said than done. A successful digital transformation requires a well-defined strategy and experienced teams.

From the customer’s perspective, providing the information they need when they need it and making interactions simple and seamless means your digital transformation has been successful.

From an IT perspective, it’s about speed and agility and having the tools, technologies and processes in place to deliver solutions quickly. IT teams should be organized to include representatives from a product, technology, and user experience perspective.

Digital transformation spans the entire organization, including business units, suppliers, manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, and IT. To be successful, leaders in all of these areas must be engaged, aligned, and accountable. A solid plan and roadmap outlining initiatives, dependencies, investments, business value, roles and responsibilities, timeline, and governance should be defined.

[ Also read: Digital transformation: 5 ‘human’ mistakes to avoid. ]

Digital transformation requires a significant investment of money, time and commitment. The last thing companies want to do is embark on a corporate initiative, only to see it fail. Failure can negatively impact the credibility of executives, business leaders, and IT.

10 pitfalls of digital transformation to avoid

Consider these ten reasons why IT initiatives fail and let them guide you to ensure your digital transformation is a success.

1. Focus on the wrong things

Focusing on initiatives that do not generate value or transformation is a waste of time and resources. Ensure that each initiative leads to transformation or is a supporting element of transformation. Focus on transforming customer experience, business efficiency, employee experience, or IT efficiency.

2. Doing too many things at once

With teams challenged to keep up with ongoing projects and support, you can easily outrun them. This will lead to project delays, frustration, and ultimately more time and money.

3. Thinking that everything can be done in-house

Few companies have the internal talent and leadership to understand the latest business trends and emerging technologies. Additionally, internal resources are typically bogged down with day-to-day support and project initiatives. You can save time and money by using a partner.

4. Insufficient strategy and roadmap

Digital transformation is enterprise-wide and requires organization-wide alignment. Initiatives should be laser-focused on driving transformation. If they are not, resources will be wasted and the transformation will fail. Technology strategy is key: ensure that the future platform, technologies and enterprise architecture are well defined to support digital transformation.

5. Insufficient or missing objectives

If you don’t know what your end goals are, how can you be successful? Clear goals and objectives provide the guardrails and scope for any digital transformation effort.

6. Lack of management commitment and alignment

Corporate initiatives require leadership sponsorship, commitment and accountability. Leaders will make final decisions on new business processes and provide advice on how best to resolve issues. Additionally, leaders need to ensure that their teams are engaged, focused, and understand priorities; otherwise, delays will occur, affecting the entire effort.

7. Lack of change management

Digital transformation goes beyond technology; it is also a matter of transforming people. Business processes, technologies and staffing models can be radically changed. This means that people’s jobs will change – therefore, developing a solid change management strategy and plan is imperative. If employees don’t see the value of transformation, they will reject it, causing friction and making transformation more difficult to achieve. People need to feel comfortable being uncomfortable and will need help to accept the change.

[ Read next: Change management: 4 tips for leaders on embracing human nature ]

8. Not run like a program

The size, scope and scale of digital transformation can be enormous. As with any large IT initiative, it should be managed as a program. Stakeholder alignment, progress, cost, schedule, risk, and status should be understood and communicated frequently. Risks must also be identified and addressed.

9. Insufficient governance and KPIs

Corporate governance and KPIs are key to ensuring the digital transformation effort is being tracked as planned. If governance and metrics are not in place, you will have no way of knowing if you are meeting your goals and making progress. KPIs can provide an early indication that price adjustments are needed.

10. Lack of technical vision

Technology is the foundation of digital transformation. Existing technology platforms and applications may not use the latest architecture and tools. Microservices, cloud, edge, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning are emerging technologies that can help position IT for the future. However, if IT doesn’t know which emerging technologies can be leveraged, it can create more technical debt.

Learn more about digital transformation

It’s a trip

Remember that digital transformation is a journey, not a final destination. It’s an ongoing process, not something that happens overnight. Digital transformation is also specific to each company. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

As you embark on the journey of digital transformation, it’s essential to stay up-to-date and keep the transformation efforts going. Otherwise, your investment of time, money and resources will be wasted.

[Where is your team’s digital transformation work stalling? Get the eBook: What’s slowing down your Digital Transformation? 8 questions to ask.]


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