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Six Digital Transformation Mistakes (and Six Ways to Get Back on Track)

Blog 0010 Six Digital Transformation Mistakes
11.15.2017
Blog 0010 Six Digital Transformation Mistakes

By Emily Rinde

Communications Manager

In order for a digital transformation to be successful, it has to become part of an organization’s core business strategy. Getting there isn’t easy, but it can be done. We’ve identified six mistakes businesses make that send transformation off course, and six ways to get back on track.

Mistake 1: Treating digital transformation as a one-time event.

A successful digital transformation isn’t something that starts one week and ends the next. True transformations use software to change how a business delivers value to its customers and internal operations. Transformation makes processes faster and easier, solves customers’ problems and helps businesses perform better.

The fix: Connect your digital transformation to long-term business goals. As you achieve those goals, the digital transformation will become ingrained in how you operate.

Mistake 2: Misunderstanding the pace of change.

Digital transformation requires a steady process and sometimes takes longer than expected, often leading to impatience throughout an organization. True digital transformation can take between three and five years to fully achieve, according to a recent study by CenturyLink. Only focusing on today’s fads and chasing down the latest trends will not result in favorable long-term outcomes for an organization.

The fix: Approach innovation thoughtfully, but be willing to fail fast and deliver quick wins. Solve for immediate problems while also developing solutions that are scalable for the growth of the organization.

Mistake 3: Not listening to your customers.

Only your customers can tell you what they want from your business, and their feedback should help drive your decision-making. Marketers, salespeople and C-suite execs can make educated guesses about what customers want, but the only way to know for sure is to actually ask them. Qualitative customer research will give you a roadmap for which problems to solve, and in what order.

The fix: Take what you learn from your customers and build a human-centered approach to your transformation. These findings will put you on the clearest path toward achieving your business goals.

Mistake 4: Not aligning transformation goals to business objectives.

If you don’t align your goals and metrics at the beginning, you’re going to chase the wrong solutions throughout your digital transformation. By pinpointing what’s important, you’ll be putting your time and resources behind the things that have the biggest impact on making your transformation successful and providing desired business outcomes.

The fix: Eliminate the mistake of focusing on the wrong metrics by establishing a roadmap that includes immediate needs and long-term goals and keeps you aligned with overall business strategy and objectives.

Mistake 5: Living in silos.

What good does it do to achieve a marketing goal if it doesn’t also lead to a sales goal? We’ve yet to see a successful digital transformation where teams and departments were allowed to exist without alignment. It simply doesn’t work. Departments end up only looking at their own success, and it never extends to anyone else.

The fix: Give your teams the freedom to work together. A collaborative culture encourages sharing efforts and resources in a way that helps individuals see how their roles affect the entire scope of the transformation. Which leads us to our last mistake:

Mistake 6: Misalignment at the top.

Internal politics and unnecessary bureaucracy are the enemy of good intentions. If digital transformation isn’t a unified effort from the top down, you won’t have buy-in and collaboration throughout the organization. For digital transformation to work and last, you have to connect the goal-setters at the top of the organization with the people who implement the solutions.

The fix: A transformation driven in a consistent way by the leaders of the organization will show employees how truly connected individual efforts are, as well as the level of priority being put on the transformation by leadership. Employees will understand the importance of the transformation versus thinking it is a initiative or fad that will go away.

For a closer look at how culture can drive — or derail — your organization’s transformation effort, download our latest article.

Published on 11.15.17