14 Common Missteps To Avoid When Pursuing Digital Transformation

January 7, 2022 8:15 AM

With the recent widespread shift to digital-based work and transactions, many companies are working toward digital transformation. Whether it be updating legacy tech, adopting new tools in-house or making the move to the cloud, such transformations can prove to be complicated and costly if they’re not carefully planned.

Leaders must understand the risks that go into a pivot like this and know how to handle the most common problems that come up. To help, below a panel of Forbes Technology Council members shares some common missteps companies make in digital transformation projects and what they should do instead.

1. Not Considering All Phases

A common misstep is not considering all phases of the transformation. A digital overhaul begins with planning and continues past “going live.” The success of the transformation depends on understanding the entire operations cycle and how it will affect other departments, enforcing clear evaluation criteria for technology, and executing onboarding and measuring beyond the go-live date. - Peter Klein, FinLync

2. Not Including Everyone In The Conversation

One mistake we often see when companies start an AI project is that they leave the frontline workers and subject matter experts out of the room. These people are the ones closest to the operational problem businesses are trying to solve with AI. If they’re not involved in the design process from the start, we’ve found that the solution is far more likely to end up stuck in R&D. - Devaki Raj, CrowdAI

3. Not Understanding Digital Transformation

The biggest misstep is not truly understanding what digital transformation means for your business, your division, your team and yourself. Too often we fall into the trap of seeking to achieve digital transformation because it’s in the headlines and pundits say we should be doing it, without truly understanding what it means. Take time to define and have clarity on what “digital” means to you. -Guy Courtin, Tecsys Inc.

4. Not Making A Collective Effort

A common misstep is not understanding the concerted effort across people, processes and technology that digital transformation requires. The collective effort and cultural shift can be overlooked. Often, organizations believe new technology will make them digital. However, if they don’t have a full understanding of the cultural dynamics in play and why they need to build desire culturally, their efforts can be diminished. - Wayne Filin-Matthews, Dell Technologies

5. Forgetting That Digital Transformation Is A Journey

Not all organizations realize that digital transformation is a business discipline or company philosophy, not a one-off project. Digital transformation is a journey of continuous improvement; as such, there is no endpoint. Organizations should revamp their change-management strategies and reinforce them with the necessary tech stack to be able to quickly respond to market shifts. - Katherine Kostereva,Creatio

6. Leading Without An Outcome In Mind

Common missteps are to embark on the transformation without a clear business outcome in mind or to neglect to think through the implications of the transformation. For example, an insurance company’s target might be lowering costs by having X% of claims go through digital channels. After making that decision, leaders must consider what organizational changes are needed to make that happen and involve the right stakeholders. - Eliron Ekstein, Ravin AI Limited

7. Following Trends Without An Objective

Digital transformation for the sake of “following the trend” is a dangerous path for any company to walk. With digital transformation comes connectivity, which carries many inherent risks. Risk analysis should be step one. If you have no clear objective in mind, you might do better to go slowly. Once the digital door is opened, it can never be shut. - Wayne Lonstein, VFT Solutions, Inc.

8. Not Sharing Expectations With Stakeholders

Bill Gates made the observation that technological advances have less impact than expected in the first two years and more impact than expected in the first ten. Although digital transformation is essential in today’s economy, the path from investment to value can be slow if it’s handled badly. Share expectations with stakeholders, remember to emphasize the why and celebrate team victories. - Phil Tee, Moogsoft

9. Working From A Single Initiative

Digital transformation is not automating everything, nor is it getting rid of paper. Digital transformation is about leveraging technology to aid people in streamlining processes—meaning there is no silver bullet or single initiative that makes a company transform digitally. The work style of your people has to be the primary driver for such initiatives. Tackle it that way, and you’ll find success. - Endre Walls, Customers Bancorp

10. Not Prioritizing Diverse Skill Sets

Disruption underscores the need to gather diverse voices and skill sets in the room. To accelerate digital transformation, rather than building out a team with traditional technology skill sets, leaders must equip their teams with nuanced talent and varied areas of experience to strengthen capabilities, unlock new perspectives and ask the right questions. This will ensure they’re resilient in the face of change. - Jeff Wong, EY

11. Not Setting Clear Goals

Not having clear end-user experience objectives and accurate ways to measure progress is often the reason the target is missed. The failure percentage is even higher when there are hundreds of legacy applications to migrate to the cloud. Setting clear goals for end-user experience and properly benchmarking progress before, during and after these migrations ensures hitting the mark in terms of performance. - Patrick Ostiguy, Accedian

12. Not Having The Right Processes And Tools In Place

I see a lot of companies doing a very good job at the beginning of a digital transformation project, which entails analyzing what needs to be improved. I see things break down when it comes to execution. Companies need to put better processes and tools in place to truly execute the digital transformation objectives they have identified and see the fruits of their initial analysis. - Eric Trabold,Nexkey, Inc.

13. Underestimating The Costs

Many companies vastly underestimate both the cost and the and change-management impacts that a digital transformation project can bring. Many companies have enjoyed steady growth using systems that may be considered legacy but that are stable and essentially “paid for.” There can be a huge ROI in modernizing these systems, but the costs are staggering, and change management can be very painful. - Dave Hecker, iTechArt Group

14. Focusing On Time Instead Of Resources

Companies often overestimate their capability to run a digital transformation themselves. There often aren’t enough team members who can do their day jobs while they transform the business. Building a resource-based plan versus a time-based plan provides clarity as to what people, financial and technology resources a company has available to execute digital transformation. Seeking advice from external companies is also a good strategy. - Spiros Liolis, Micro Focus

For the full article visit Forbes

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