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Seven Digital Transformation Myths Hindering Your Project’s Success

For most companies—even the world's best-known brands—kick-starting a digitalisation journey will undoubtedly throw up a few mistakes along the way. The interesting thing is that these mistakes tend to be similar from company to company. In this article, we bust the seven biggest digital transformation myths to help you plough ahead with your digital project.

There are certain misconceptions—digital transformation myths—that even technologically mature organisations fall prey to. By themselves, modern digital technologies don't carry any real business value. It's only when they're properly applied to the problems they're intended to solve that they can create genuine business potential. Integrating best-fit technology solutions into your company's ecosystem can yield numerous advantages. But it's also important to realise that, even with all the potential wins, there are certain risks and pitfalls to watch out for.

No organisation is immune to making mistakes, especially when taking those first tentative steps towards digitalisation. What's important is being aware of which issues are minor and which can present a real obstacle for your digital transformation success.

Some mistakes can adversely affect the company itself; its development and growth. This tends to be the case when either company management—those driving the change—don't have enough experience or the people they hire to oversee the process lack the skills needed to execute it properly.

To succeed with digital transformation, you need to be able to scope out emerging technologies, assess their potential within the business environment, and then ensure the digitalisation goes smoothly from start to finish.

For more than 30 years, we've been helping our clients overcome their business challenges through custom software solutions. During this time, we've been able to specify the essential prerequisites and conditions for successful digital transformation. And, even then, we have encountered inevitable mistakes or misconceptions that can put the transformation process at risk of veering off track. So, we've prepared our rundown of the most common digital transformation myths to help you ensure nothing stands in the way of your digitalisation journey.

 

7 Digital transformation myths putting your digitalisation initiative at risk

 

Myth #1: Digital transformation is a technical matter

This statement might seem accurate. But digital transformations that are implemented without a clear vision and a well-thought-out strategy may end up being pointless from a business value perspective. Indeed, hastily and haphazardly implemented transformations can be harmful to a business, putting an organisation at risk of losing existing customers or eroding lucrative markets.

Many companies are now trying to integrate digital technology into their business environments to stay competitive and keep up with a rapidly evolving market. But they're not all getting it right. Today, technology is one of the key enablers for business continuity. But in kick-starting a digital transformation in response to a particular innovative trend, without knowing the end goal, firms can end up implementing sporadic changes which don't integrate well and lack any sort of strategic outlook. It's not only a matter of picking the right technology solution to solve the problems you have but also it's about defining a transformation initiative that's well planned and coordinated.

Good leadership is essential in driving digital transformation within a company and in steering it back on track when it takes a wrong turn. The most successful cases of digital transformation we've encountered have been defined by two crucial aspects: technological and leadership capabilities.

Companies create digital opportunities by embedding the right technologies in the right parts of their customer interactions, operations, and business models. And the ability to lead and manage employees is essential in order to stimulate a successful transformation. It's only when applied together that these two things—digital transformation and leadership—create real value.

 

Myth #2: Digital transformation is primarily about customer service

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Customer experience remains a top priority for many businesses. There is some hugely compelling media coverage around B2C companies that are revolutionising their customer interactions by adopting innovative tech. But they often overlook some of the most fundamental elements of successful digital transformation.

In order to deliver more value to your customers, the first thing you need to do is to look inside your organisation. Aside from providing an outstanding customer experience, digital transformation should enable greater efficiency and enhance essential day-to-day processes within the company. It's ensuring that your organisation's operations are straightforward and streamlined which is crucial for developing better interactions with your customers. A strategic transformation that improves your firm's operations will boost efficiencies and, inevitably, drive innovation within your customer experience and business models.

 

Myth #3: Great digital transformation can be bottom-up

You may have heard success stories about innovations initiated by an organisation's employees, resulting in a fundamental shift in how a company works. However, while cases may exist, they are extremely rare. Based on our experience, we can confidently say that most successful digital transformations are driven by strong leadership and are almost always strategic top-down initiatives.

Successful digital transformation requires advocates at every level of seniority, in every department. Skilful management drives the actual change, but alignment across all stages of organisational structure is essential for this change to be integrated within a business environment.

Bottom-up alignment and effective communication are critical and productive when employees need to embrace a new business vision and adopt change. But, with rare exceptions, digital transformation must be initiated and driven from the top.

 

Myth #4: Hiring a technology pro is all you need to reach your goal

Successful digital transformation requires a responsible person to oversee change at every level of organisational structure. This reliable senior expert needs to be able to affect company-wide change while introducing technological innovation. Some businesses choose to hire external consultants to fulfil this role. Others make their CIOs responsible for digital transformation. The latter approach works in companies where the CIO has the vision and strategy to drive the transformation and can allocate enough time and resources to focus on the core business simultaneously. But this is very challenging.

In some cases, the role of "digital change agent" is transferred to the business leader. This works if that leader can anticipate and implement new ways of doing business but, often, it results in missed opportunities and transformational biases. Whoever the change agent is, this person needs to get C-level support to mobilise resources and overcome internal barriers.

Apart from a clear vision and defined strategy, the person responsible for your company's digital transformation needs to have advocates at every structural level. So the important point to consider when selecting either an external consultant or an internal expert to oversee your digital transformation is how effectively they can gain organisational buy-in.

And the core concern for your chosen transformation manager needs to be what your organisation wants from this change, how any technology solution will integrate into your business environment, and what opportunities it will open up.

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Myth #5: Not all businesses are mature enough to embrace digital transformation

While this particular digital transformation myth may sound true for some organisations starting their innovation journey, the reality is that every business can embrace digital transformation. That is, presuming they choose the right technology to integrate into their organisation's ecosystem. A company's level of technological maturity is what matters most here.

Where there's uncertainty around whether digital transformation is the right path, it's essential to run a technical feasibility study. This can help you assess the potential and impact a chosen technology can have on your business.

For example, suppose a particular technology won't necessarily add any real business value just yet, you could still plan to implement it when the time is right—when there's a viable use case and enough resources for you to drive the transformation.

Sometimes, the question of a company's readiness for transformation arises when the leader driving the initiative is also responsible for certain other business functions and, therefore, can't effectively handle the scope of the project. This puts the digital transformation at real risk. To avoid this, it's essential to have a qualified IT department supporting the implementation of any new technologies. This may mean changing the way your IT team works and the way it interacts with your business leaders. Your IT department needs to become more agile and your business leaders more tech-savvy and willing to engage and cooperate more strategically with IT managers.

 

Myth #6: Digital transformation requires radical business model change

This is probably the most common misconception, perpetuated, again, by biased media coverage. In practice, things are a little different.

You might like to refer to Digital Master, which provides an in-depth analysis of the digital learning curve. It shows that, in reality, the companies most successful at implementing digital transformations are those that start by gaining expertise in digitally enhancing their existing business practices before considering a radical model shift. Another element to this common digital transformation myth is that if you don't use a strategic business platform, you'll be left behind. But not all companies need to build and integrate a custom platform to operate efficiently and remain competitive. In any case, radical changes to a business model entail substantial cost and time. And, in some cases, a good measure of luck.

Even without resorting to a complete overhaul, there are many opportunities to digitally modify or improve your business model—with fewer risks and costs. What's more, these approaches can be just as effective.

For example, you might introduce data analysis to power your decision making, polish your customer experience, reimagine your existing services, or add new ones. Even smaller digital innovations can improve the scalability, security and flexibility of your services and products, within your current business ecosystem. We're talking about smooth and gradual change which doesn't cause significant disruption to the way you do business.

The key to any successful innovation is to really assess your capabilities. Otherwise, instead of improvements, you could be introducing harm.

 

Myth #7: It's never too late to start a transformation

Sadly, this isn't always true. In waiting too long, businesses may find that they're no longer competitive and that their services aren't capable of meeting modern consumer demands. And, as we've already mentioned, introducing drastic last-minute changes as a knee-jerk reaction to market trends can be potentially harmful.

Likewise, settling for stability may be damaging to your business. The world we live in changes so rapidly that flexibility and adaptability are vital if your business is to not only survive but to thrive.

Successful companies are capable of constantly rising to industry challenges. They accommodate peaks and troughs in demand and continuously optimise their operations for efficiency, safety, and resilience—leveraging digital technologies as crucial enablers.

To introduce timely innovations, you need to develop a deep awareness of your market's digital landscape and also keep an eye on the leading industry players and technology innovations outside of your niche. Developing a strategic vision for your digital transformation, building a roadmap for its implementation and ensuring you have all the leadership capabilities and resources to make this project a success is vital.

 

Conclusion:

Technological innovations can help you establish your unique selling point and reimagine your existing products and services to give you a competitive edge. But you need to make sure you are investing in technologies that have real potential for your business and can bring genuine value to your organisation and your customers.

To eliminate technological uncertainty, start with extensive research and perform a feasibility study. If you lack resources and expertise in house, reach out to external vendors for specialist technology consulting. And, if needed, seek help with navigating deployment to guarantee the smooth uptake of any new technologies and processes while you adapt to change.

Exploring the efficiency and revenue-boosting benefits of emerging technologies for your business? Choose a trusted technology partner for your digital transformation. Contact us today.

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