Last year, we discussed some vital factors that can make or break your digital transformation. We felt it was worth reviewing them given the context—the pandemic had everyone rushing to adopt new technologies as if they were lifesavers. And while that truly can be the case, you can expect technologies to save your business on and by their own.
In that piece from 2021, we pointed out that businesses need leadership commitment, an integrated strategy, clear and measurable goals, top talent, and custom technologies for a digital transformation to work. I stand by all of those things, as we here at BairesDev believe that they’re all crucial for the success of a digitalization process.
But I’ve been talking to colleagues and executives from other companies as well as our clients only to find out that they’re still struggling even when following those suggestions. While I understand there’s natural friction in any digital transformation, I think there are also some issues in how they approach the process. That’s why I thought about revisiting this topic to offer a few extra pointers, especially regarding wrong approaches to digital transformation.
Here are 3 of the most common misconceptions on how to approach this.
Digital Transformation Is a Leadership-only Effort
When discussing leadership commitment in the article linked above, we said that it’s essential to have buy-in from all management levels. Without the conviction that digital transformation will work, the process will likely stall and fail. But while executives and middle managers are instrumental to the transformation tasks, you need every single person in your organization to understand and embrace what you’re trying to achieve.
In other words, you have to avoid falling for the trap of tasking just some people with the burden of digital transformation. The process impacts every corner of your organization, so you need to get everyone on board. Failing to do so (that is, putting a person or team in charge of digital transformation) is like saying to the other team members that the process isn’t their responsibility.
I know that what I’m saying raises the bar and makes the whole thing more complex. But that’s the only way to tread a path more likely to be successful—with everyone knowing they play a role in that digitalization process you’re going through.
Digital Transformation Is About Adopting New Technologies and Digitizing Processes
It’s understandable if you see digital transformation as a tech adoption process through which you digitize your operations to unlock some benefits. After all, that’s a large portion of it. However, limiting your understanding of the process to that can have severe repercussions. For one, you might invest a lot of time, money, and effort in a solution that doesn’t offer you the ROI you were expecting. Even worse, you can end up with an expensive digital toy that doesn’t do anything for your business.
The integrated strategy we talked about in last year’s article can help you define which technologies are best for your business in terms of cost-effectiveness. But that strategy can only take you so far if your mindset isn’t the right one. You need to see each new technology you’re about to implement as a spark that can reignite your business—and change it completely. A well-devised digital transformation brings more efficiency and productivity, sure, but it also opens up opportunities for you to develop new services, products, or even business models.
Even if things don’t go that far, you need to completely see the full picture, understanding how a technology can offer you more than just a digital alternative to your manual ways—it can offer a completely new path forward. That’s what digital transformation is all about.
Digital Transformation Is One Clear, Defined Process
This is one of the most common misconceptions I heard about digital transformation. A lot of people seem to think that the process can be outlined completely at its earliest stages and that the rest of the work is just going through all the points of that initial plan. However, laying down such a plan is just a beautiful utopia.
That’s because you can’t possibly foresee the many things that might happen when moving forward with your transformation. Thinking you can move past them without even giving them a second thought is plain wrong, but that often happens when you’re too busy worrying about the whole process rather than analyzing each step.
In other words, you need to understand that a digital transformation process has multiple steps and stages which, in turn, can bring forward new steps and processes you might not have considered before. As the process unfolds, new opportunities might pop up, feedback from your team might suggest changes, and there might even be a need to go back and consider alternatives. This comes to show that digital transformation isn’t a clear process but a series of smaller processes that you need to closely unfurl one after the other.
A Process That Requires Your All
A digital transformation process is a huge undertaking that you can’t take lightly. There are so many considerations and moving parts involved that you’ll need to have a solid strategy, the right tools and talent by your side, the conviction of everyone in your company, and the appropriate mindset to achieve success.
It’s not going to be easy, naturally. But by following the suggestions in our earlier article and supplementing them with the proper approach (informed by these pointers) you’ll be closer to getting the results you’ve been hearing about this comprehensive process.