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Lessons learned from companies that pursued digital transformation

Every endeavor has two possible outcomes, that it will end in success or it will end in failure. How well an organization leverages itself to succeed is a good way to ensure that success is achieved. There is a lot of buzz about digitization in organizations and as it gets louder it is important organizations planning to digitize learn from not only the success stories but also gain lessons from the challenges and failures. It is seldom necessary to reinvent the wheel.

Here are 3 reasons why companies fail at digital transformation:

1. Insufficient information about digitization.

It is not uncommon for organizations to carry out insufficient research on digitization, for whatever reason. A surprisingly common of reasons is to keep up with the Joneses. Yes, even corporate organizations experience peer pressure. This comes out clearly especially when there is no clear ‘Why’ that the organization is digitizing. This can only be established if the organization is well aware of the specific needs and how a digital transformation will meet those needs to benefit the organization both internally and externally.

2. Compromising on quality.

Cheap is expensive. Cheap is expensive. Cheap is expensive. Yes, I said that three times on purpose and it has been said since time immemorial. The ICT industry is very lucrative, and there are many suppliers offering substandard services at cheaper rates. The loopholes to give clients a cheaper rate include lack of after-sales support, poor training, and selling a bill of goods that they cannot provide i.e. a substandard system. Additionally, if the sales process takes too short a time it should raise some red flags. Organizations also make the mistake of trusting suppliers of digital solutions too much and too soon, without doing adequate reference checks on work that has already been done by the supplier. In the absence of work done in case of a new supplier, the organization may also fail to ask for a trial period to test and approve that the solution works satisfactorily. Always remember, the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low prices is forgotten.

3. Failure to integrate digital solutions.

Another common mistake is the failure to integrate digital solutions. This is whereby organizations use different platforms to perform different functions independently. The end result of this is that files, information, and processes cannot be shared between the platforms and there may be a lot of confusion in the process This makes workflows and decision making more cumbersome and time-consuming, as well making the transparency within the platforms harder to establish. This leads to failure of the digitization transformation because the end-users – the staff, are less likely to take it up for a prolonged period of time.

There are also lessons to be learned from the success of companies that have gone digital. Below are 3:

1. Staff buy – in to the solution.

To know what the staff needs to do their jobs better, management needs to talk to the staff to know what the fray entails and what is required to make work processes more efficient. A bird’s eye view may give a good idea of what is required, however, the idea should not only be good, it should also be right to be effective, and the only way to get it right is to look at it from a user’s perspective. When the staff is involved in decision-making on matters affecting them in the organization they are more open to champion the advancements being made. It also ensures that the digital advancements made to the staff are relevant and better than the status quo and this will definitely make the staff buy-in more successful. If the staff rejects or resists the solution the cost of acquiring the solution could run the company into a loss, therefore staff buy-in is a win on its own.

The staff is also in a good position to give vital information in regard to the technical assistance they need and this will help the management come up with clear goals in regards to the benefits that the digitization process should provide. All ambiguity should be dealt with to ensure that the specific goals are met. In addition to this, there should be targets on factors such as timelines, budget and level of automation expected of the digitization transformation.

2. Integration of digital solutions

Companies that have been successful in digital transformation have acquired solutions that can integrate with other solutions to provide seamless end-to-end solutions. It is even better if all solutions are sourced from the same vendor. This saves both costs and time on training and maintenance as well. It also ensures a seamless interaction between workflows in terms of processes and function.

3. Spearheaded by the CEO

Digitizing an organization is no humble feat. It is therefore befitting that the champion for the process be the leader of the organization. Once the CEO takes the lead it adds weight to the importance of digitization and builds more focus towards it. This also reduces resistance towards the adaptation of the new systems in the organization. When the CEO spearheads the digitization transformation there will be more order because the buck stops with him or her, timelines will be respected, adequate research will be done and there will be greater adherence to the new technological advancements within the organization.

Just like any other trends, digital trends and advancements are made as business continues and people find ways of working smarter. This means that the goal posts are constantly shifting, and digital transformation is constantly at beta stage. Your organization will never be done with updates and upgrades, the only thing that will remain constant is the periodic changes, hopefully for the better. Organizations will never be done, whether they have succeeded or failed. Therefore organizations must brace themselves for the certainty that technology will continue to influence business.

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