The Challenges of Digital Transformation
You’re finally ready to overhaul your company’s website, convert entirely to cloud computing or rely more heavily on data analytics, but where do you start? And what sort of digital transformation challenges should you expect to face?
There are challenges almost every company faces during digital transformation. Here is how to overcome them
Companies across the board experience growing pains when it comes to digital transformation. This article will discuss some of the most common bumps in the road and point toward resources that provide solutions.
Different companies, same problems
Perhaps surprisingly, it’s been found that companies of all sizes encounter many of the same issues when it comes to following through on a digital transformation framework. That’s frustrating on one level, but the fact that there is so much overlap means there may be some universal lessons to be learned and applied.
Technical manufacturing company Jabil surveyed 300 companies and found that in companies of all sizes (brackets included 1-100 employees; 100-1,000 employees; 1,000-5,000 employees; 5,000+ employees), the same five problems were commonly cited when it came to digital transformation.
- Employee pushback. Businesses are made up of people, and people often have a hard time breaking routines and accepting the uncertainty that comes with a new direction.
- Lack of expertise to lead digitization initiatives. As with any other endeavour, you need experts to craft and then implement a vision — many businesses think they already have this and find out the hard way when they don’t.
- The organizational structure gets in the way. Every business relies on a predictable structure to function, but a digital transformation may require a shakeup of departments and duties.
- Lack of overall digitization strategy. According to the Jabil survey, only 23 percent of companies said they had a corporation-wide digitization strategy. However, this is like any other initiative — you need a plan.
- Limited budget. Nobody has a bottomless well of funding; at some point, you will come up against the limitations of your spending.
The common thread of these problems is that they are all in-house, which means they are preventable. New technologies will invariably be flawed, but you’re more likely to deal with underlying issues that already exist in your company and become exposed by a poorly planned digitization rollout.
Focus on the long term and your people
The challenges found by Jabil speak to a larger problem discussed by Forbes. While it’s relatively easy to introduce new technologies or protocols to a business, it’s often the case that no tangible transformation takes place. That is, little or nothing is done to address whatever hang-ups employees may have, or the fact that no systems are in place to follow the digital transformation roadmap that has been imagined. That creates both short-term and long-term difficulties.
If your focus is solely on implementing new technology, you will run into trouble. Successful businesses are built around identifying customer needs and then having the right team to address those needs. In other words, people working with people. There are always new tech solutions on the horizon, and they should be welcomed if you believe they can help your business, but they are not your most valuable resource. Valuable, yes. But you need your team to buy in as well. The best way to do that is to keep your directorial eye on the distant future and value the long-term effects of change.
“Scenario planning is perhaps the best tool to help directors and executives think about the distant future.” - Forbes
Avoid early pitfalls of digital transformation
Recent worldwide events have accelerated everyone’s digital transformation plans. If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 era, it is essential to remain agile and adaptable. This is a time of uncertainty, but that does not mean that you have no control. If you have already implemented a new system, here are some tangible steps you can take to anticipate and avoid common pitfalls.
- Ensure that your executive leadership is engaged, committed, and consistent. Digital transformations are hard, but half measures won’t do – your leaders should be willing to disrupt to evolve.
- Set your sights on small, completable tasks. Few things can kill an initiative quicker than overreach, so think of the early stages of your transformation as a series of sprints rather than a marathon.
- Engage your team early. If introduced too abruptly to new tools, some team members will bristle and ask that they be allowed to keep using legacy applications. You can stay ahead of this by familiarizing them with the digital initiative when it is still in the planning stages.
- Hire the right people to implement and support your digital transformation. Choose digital leaders who can engage people and address ongoing complexities, not ones who are simply familiar with the new platform.
No matter who you are or what kind of business you have, putting a digital transformation plan into motion is a daunting task. Not only are there ever-changing variables at play within any given company, but the technologies are constantly evolving. So, break the large vision down into smaller steps.
Ready to take action? Acro Media is here.
Wherever you are in your digital transformation, Acro Media consultants can help find the right solutions. With an established methodology for tackling all aspects of the transformation process, Acro Media is an ideal partner for taking on the most significant challenges. Get in touch today to tell us about your business and upcoming projects.
Rafael Carillo is a writer, editor and tutor living in Brooklyn, NY.