Did you know that 87% of senior leaders in business say that digitalisation is a priority for their business?

Digital transformation is on everybody's minds for business in 2021 and beyond. It's definitely the name of the game in today's business. But alas, sometimes even the most innovative of ideas don't work.

So, when it comes to digital transformation, how do you figure out which ideas are great and which won't work? Keep reading to find out why some digital transformation ideas fail, and how you can avoid it.

Why Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation begins with a change in your and your business's mindset. It is the ability to adapt to a changing business environment through transformation.

So, what exactly has to transform?

With digital transformation, you could be looking at the transforming of processes. Or the transformation of culture, business models, or even other interests within your business.

Fundamentally, digital transformation is about the shift in behaviour. It's about changing the way we think, and how we approach a problem to find a solution. It's about innovative ideas, and how they can change your business.

Having said that, the first thing you need to know is that digital transformation is never an easy journey. It's not going to be a smooth ride. What will definitely make it a little less stressful is knowing what risks to avoid. Knowing what challenges might present themselves, and how to be prepared.

Transformation Fail 1: Faulty Premises

Here's what usually happens with large corporations and businesses: they decide that digital transformation is a great idea. Then they implement the plans and processes for an ERP upgrade (enterprise resource planning).

What then happens is said business cannot figure out where the value in the ERP upgrade was, and why moving to this system was better for them.

The issue here is that people don't realise that digital transformation is not meant to transform your business overnight. The ERP upgrade will give you the capability for upscaling your business processes. It does this through software and technology, but it won't do it for you.

So, the first fail to avoid is thinking that digital transformation is going to do all the work for you, it won't.

Transformation Fail 2: Not Planning for Production Deployment

What's happening now is that digital transformation is driving innovation. It's driving the creation of new software and technology to go with it. The problem comes in where companies are not prepared for or lack the specific skills to bring those ideas to life. They lack the skillset to launch these ideas into full operation.

You need to have a team that has the expertise to bring new, emerging technology or products to market, right from brainstorming the concept through to successful user adoption.

The issue comes in where people think that existing staff in IT or operations should be in charge of taking the product to market. In actual fact, the entire process is different. New products resulting from digital transformation need to undergo a rapid, successive testing regime. This has to be done before they can move forward.

Equip your team with the skillset, the technology, and the software that they need right from the conceptualisation stage through to deployment and you won't look back.

Transformation Fail 3: Have a Look at Your People

People form such a large, important part of digital transformation that sometimes it's what's right in front of you that can be missed and cause an issue.

In order to plan for success, you need to look at the one resource that is a constant, your people.

Staff engagement may drop when whispers of digital transformation travel through the corridors. The people in your business are all there working together towards the vision your business has. What happens is people approach problem-solving in different ways, and people generally have issues with accepting new ideas that come from different people.

What you need to do is analyse your company's culture. Have a think about what cultural aspects need to change while you tackle digital transformation. How can you create an environment for your people that is conducive to change? How can you support your staff as they evolve, and how will you encourage them to challenge superiors and give merit to their ideas?

It's all about culture. Create a positive, innovative environment where there are direct lines of communication with superiors during the digital transformation process, and you won't find any failure with your people.

Transformation Fail 4: Discuss Processes

Every business in operation today, from startups to small businesses, or a massive global organization, already has processes in place. But guess what? These will have to change as you move into digital transformation.

Business processes are what help your business move from customer request and initial contact to end delivery of your product or service. These processes should be efficient. Analyse how effective they will be in supporting your digital transformation. Look at how they may need to adapt throughout the process and at the end.

Any processes that have problem areas due to not being able to support your new digital initiative. These are the processes that need to be reworked until they do.

When it comes to existing processes and potentially new processes, you need to ask but one thing: do they support my digital transformation need?

Before processes can be changed and altered or introduced, you'll want to decide what impact this can potentially have. So for example, do you have enough manpower to implement new processes? Do you need to hire or train new staff to take on these new processes?

Ensure that you stay on top of the discussion around your business processes in order to ensure that you don't make this transformation fail.

Transformation Fail 5: Not Having the Right Tools

Such a large part of digital transformation is ensuring that you have the right tools. This is not only to support the transformation but also to support the needs of the company.

You need to understand though that having the right tools does not mean that the entire process will be a walk in the park. On the contrary, having the right tools should be making everything you do easier and more efficient.

Using a tool for the case of using a tool is not the way to go. There is so much software out there that can be tailored to your business. It will work in exactly the way that your business needs it to, and in the exact way that your digital transformation needs require.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What problem should my new tool solve?
  • How easy is it to be trained in using this new tool?
  • How will my staff cope with the complexity of this tool?
  • Will this tool work hand in hand with current processes and software that we use?

Tools rely heavily on your people and your processes, so when you're making decisions based on the tools you want to use, be sure to involve everyone involved in the other two, so you can have an all-encompassing picture before you buy a tool or new piece of software. Ensuring that you look at the ideal tools for digital transformation is a great first step.

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Transformation Fail 6: Believing It's Just One Expense

So many businesses go into the digital transformation journey thinking that it's but a short race to cross the finish line and that once you do, your transformation is complete.

This is a big, big mistake.

Your first bet to success is understanding that digital transformation is a journey, it's like hiking across Europe and then taking a different journey back, and still feeling like you're not done.

If you can understand that the investment is not just a once-off, that it takes time, money, and commitment to make digital transformation work. And even once certain things have been implemented, you need to be willing to adapt things or change them after a few months to make a complete transformation.

Have a system in place where you can measure your progress and performance regularly, and make informed decisions on changes in your digital transformation journey.

Succeeding in Digital Transformation

Now that you know what to avoid, let's finish off by understanding how to achieve success with your digital transformation.

Firstly, ensure that your strategy process is a dynamic one, it should be able to mould and bend in accordance with business process changes, tool changes, and people changes.

There is a ton of work to be done for businesses to increase competitiveness, create streamlined operations, improve their digital resilience and ultimately, fully embrace the digital culture movement.

If you're committed to the digital transformation and you know it's going to take time, then you're already on your way to success.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, then partnering with a digital transformation agency is probably a good idea. Contact us and let us show you how we can help you, we'll send you the top ten tips for your digital venture to find success.