By Sairam Bollapragada & Rajesh Mohandas
Digital has been the heartbeat of the emerging technology forums and every second evangelist can talk for hours together on the benefits various industries, sectors, functions etc.… can derive out of Digital.
This note is an attempt to portray top 5 reasons why Digital Transformation(DT) journeys fail based on learning experiences of real time case studies and suggestions on measures that need to be proactively taken to be successful…
- Digital Definition : DT may mean different things to different people in senior management, depending on the role they play. It is evident from CXO studies that CXOs today take a very different approach towards DIGITAL; while the CIO and CTO are more technical to digitalization, the CMO and CEO see it as business while the VP Sales may see it as new revenue channels. The result is spectrum of variances in expectations and ambitions within the company. Some convergence is necessary to drive the scope and its applicability to an organization.
Suggestion : Establish a common DIGITAL DEFINITION across the organization and connect the definition with the objectives every unit in the organization can relate to and carry.
- Upskilling of workforce : It is no wonder then, that many traditional skills are now facing obsolescence. To put this in context, the latest report titled “The future of jobs” by the World Economic Forum cited that on average, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today.
Suggestion : Workforce includes all, not just the IT folks. While IT teams can enable bring the technology solutions to the table, the SMEs should look at explosion of up-skilling in their skills distribution reflecting on the critical dynamic of “Digital catch-up” and potentially improved economic inclusivity. Business leaders, educators, and policymakers observe that we now face a massive digital inclusion challenge and everybody needs to transform and upskill/re-skill themselves. (https://itservicesdelivery.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/the-digital-era-learner-re-wiring-your-skills/)
- Lack of ownership : Digital Transformation (DT) efforts should be all prevalent and not limited to just a few focus groups or techies. Even though the CxOs can call upon teams to help drive adoption, it does not mean in any way that the adoption is somebody else’s sole responsibility. The maturity lies in each and every unit in the organization to realizing that the DT journey is mandatory to their very survival – nothing less. Most misses result from the fact that “this is not my responsibility”
Suggestion: To succeed, every person and unit in the organization should agree and understand that each of the them need to evolve for survival and hence share equal responsibility for the overall DT journey.
- Shun Big Bang Approach : Every organization wants the digital spread to be quick and now! It does not mean you need a big bang approach of a centralized guideline or Digital playbook and then wait for it to pass through several internal champions and unit heads. This approach of roll out has rarely worked fast. Organizations must get the independent business groups/units to understand that “Change starts with you”..
Suggestion : DT journey is more about bringing the fit-to-purpose ideas between Domain and technology. A careful consideration of divide-and-rule with sufficient degrees of freedom provisioned to each Independent Business Grups/Units following a continuous improvement framework will be the best way forward.
- Hyper efforts in creating lab with eternal PoC mode: We see that organizations have started being so blind-sighted making their labs that they seem to be stuck in time. Sometimes the solutions are found not to leave the lab forever – keeping stakeholders guessing. Culmination of innovative prototypes can be only called out ONLY if it hits the markets and finds a customer base. An eternal POC mode, builds a perception that either organizations are not confident of their solution or are lost.
Suggestion: Fail and fail fast! That mantra works. The labs cosmetics to impress potential to-be clientele is colossal waste of time/effort/energy. Clients refuse to be enchanted by the show and feel of real estate. Solutions speak for themselves and the organizations capability to deliver outcomes and most clients are aware. Help clients co-create solutions to their specific needs and the earlier you come to this state, the better is your hold on the potential client – even if it means fail fast a few times.
While there can be many more reasons to add to the above list, the basic insurance against these would lay a foundation to cover other “Don’ts” like some want to scamper onto the analysts quadrants to prove how digitized they are, some may still be wading through the haze of their digital objectives, some may try to copy from what has worked for others without proper fit-to-purpose analysis, some may lose sight of their current differentiators to create new ones to cling to the market, etc.
However, set of failure points will vary from organization to organization and so will the remedies. However, it is proven that Digital is an inevitable transformation journey for organizations to survive and sustain themselves in the market. The maze they can traverse will decide the destination and destiny!