Why Your Digital Transformation Stalled, and How to Fix It
Many businesses set digital transformation as a goal, but a significant number have been disappointed or underwhelmed by the results. Why have some digital transformations failed and how can you get your digital transformation journey back on track?
Here are some possible reasons why your digital journey stalled, and recommendations for how to solve the issue and move forward.
You prioritized technological changes without addressing cultural change as well. Digital transformation is more of a people problem than a technology problem, but these are not mutually exclusive priorities and must be addressed simultaneously. People tend to resist change, which creates a cultural barrier to technology adoption and implementation that can’t be ignored for true digital transformation to be successful. Transformation requires leadership to demonstrate to all teams that the change is purposeful and worthwhile, improves their ability to do their jobs and benefits the business in the long term.
The fix: This solution must come from the top down. The C-suite leadership needs to be on board and to repeatedly communicate their commitment to the transformation in words and actions. Leaders must evangelize the change and its potential for positive outcomes: publicly praising successes, looking for opportunities for inter-department collaboration and helping lagging departments envision and explore the possibilities.
Your staff lacked the needed skills. Your current IT team may lack the big data, analytics, machine learning or cloud management skills needed to take advantage of emerging technologies and applications. Without this knowledge, it can be difficult to succeed at digital transformation.
The fix: Your employees either need more training or additional, skilled team members added to their ranks. Alternately, you can bring in outside managed services to guide the transformation. Outsourced teams can help current staff gain the skills they need, all while managing projects until it’s possible to hand off control to internal teams. Additionally, managed services teams offer years of experience deploying these projects, and should reveal a track record of successfully launching transformative projects.
Your business tried to do too much at once. It often pays to be a leader rather than a laggard, especially when it comes to implementing cutting-edge technologies. Some businesses try to accomplish this by implementing cloud-first or cloud-only policies early in their digital journeys. On the surface, that seems like a sensible plan, yet some of these businesses have not built a strategy for prioritizing data workloads across distributed environments. As a result, they find themselves surprised by costs, security and performance issues when leveraging centralized cloud platforms for critical applications. Many are now retreating from cloud initiatives or approaching those changes far more cautiously.
The fix: Digital transformation must be viewed as a strategic journey. It’s better to start small, prioritizing areas that will drive meaningful cultural and technological change within your organization and then building on those smaller wins to create bigger ones. Contextualizing your transformation within a larger strategic purpose helps prioritize your transformation phases, while still accelerating your business. Smaller steps will also help prevent surprises related to costs and performance, and provide more opportunities to refine your transformation processes.
Your business struggled to scale early successes. Most digital transformation journeys start in one department. But even if those early steps are successful, scaling the transformation across your organization may fail if your broader transformation efforts are lacking. Success is driven by strong C-suite engagement, cross-department collaboration, adaptive IT infrastructure and the skilled staff to support scaling the critical changes and increased data demands. Without that support, teams likely experienced lackluster outcomes for new initiatives and lost motivation to pursue them further.
The fix: First, you must discover what exactly failed to scale. Was it your IT team, your network, the lack of leadership commitment? Discover the reason and then you can work on the solution. If your IT team lacked the skills to help with the changes, then the fix involves training your internal teams or outsourcing managed services to aid with the transition. If your network and infrastructure failed, solve the problem by making strategic IT investments to expand and strengthen your infrastructure. If leadership failed to support the change, that may be a harder problem to solve. Groups that have been successful with smaller internal digital changes should outline tangible improvements to leaders to demonstrate their strategic value. These proofs also offer an opportunity to increase collaboration across departments in pushing for stronger leadership involvement and successful change management.
Your transformation lacked a specific purpose and goal. The first step of any journey is to know where you’re going and why. Some enterprises started their digital transformations by being too vague and generic about why they were undergoing transformation in the first place and their goals to gauge its progress. Without a strategy in place that highlighted the value of the transformation, outlined priorities for appropriate resourcing and established goals for measuring incremental successes, their plans lacked focus and direction.
The fix: Every business needs to define the purpose and use case for its transformation. There needs to be a reason and a strategy behind the processes and technologies you adopt. This often begins with a clear-minded assessment of the company’s current status. You should determine if you lead, lag or hold an average position compared to peers in your same sector. Start small, but prioritize areas in which tech investments can make a big impact. Then define the metrics that will be impacted by these improvements to motivate your teams and gauge success.
Has your company’s digital business journey stalled? Download the CenturyLink ebook, Beyond Transformation: How Data Drives the Digital Business to learn more about solutions for moving your digital business journey forward.
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