min read ·
August 30, 2022

Why your digital transformation is lagging behind

Partner, Head of Product and Innovation

Shashank Kapoor

Shashank drives valuable transformation in organisations across the stack, from strategy to execution and innovation. He does this by enabling a product led value based mindset.

Irrespective of the motivations or the budget, many digital transformation projects get dragged out for a long time, and 70% of them eventually fail.

Study shows that 70% of companies have a digital transformation strategy in place or in the works. So, if you work in a big enterprise, chances are you are in the middle of a digital transformation of some kind. Everyone knows the digital economy has come to stay and needs to get onboard or risk failing. But what everyone is also finding out is that it’s hard and it’s not just about hiring massive teams and having deep pockets just can’t solve for the time it takes to get it right. So, why do these projects lag in achieving set business objectives?

You are not adopting a platform mindset

Throwing money at digital transformation alone won't solve the problem. When you view digital transformation projects as IT implementations, it is bound to lag greatly and might eventually fail. You should take a start-up approach instead. You need to design a profitable and scalable digital business model. This means re-inventing your existing business model to create meaningful experiences for today’s customers. But the problem is; you probably already have a lot of core systems integrated together and can't risk disruptions. This prevents you from innovating and unlocking new digital business models.

This is where the Digital Platform Strategy comes in.

The platform approach allows you to implement digital transformation at an enterprise level without big upfront costs. It is a lean approach that lets you build incrementally on your existing capabilities to unlock new customer experiences quickly.

We’ve designed a five-components platform strategy framework to maximise the value of core enterprise business capabilities:

  • Streamlined Build and Deploy Infrastructure; to deliver products/services faster to your customers
  • Plug-n-play Ecosystem; to open all your business capabilities to innovation
  • Continuous Data stream channels ; to provide business intelligence from your customer data and industry data that you've accumulated
  • Split-testing Infrastructure; to experiment efficiently and responsibly while providing you with telemetry to make informed decisions on those experiments
  • Customer journey experience framework; to enable a consistent experience  across all interaction points with your customers

Essentially, the platform strategy allows us to distill your business objectives, current state architecture, and technology capability to provide a set of actions to maximize innovation and increase speed to market.

You’re focusing on skills and processes instead of culture 

Technology and processes are critical enablers of digital transformation, but culture drives it and people make it a reality. Skills can be bought or taught but culture has to be cultivated from the ground up and that’s hard. It's about cultivating the ‘right’ mindset that supports digital transformation.

An enterprise culture that accelerates digital transformation would include:

  • A workforce that understands what is being asked of them and is culturally aligned to deliver value
  • A workforce that is comfortable with constant change in pursuit of that value, and not get hung on to process or tools
  • A workforce equipped with the skills to work in the new way

Now, do you retrain existing talent or hire new talents in order to drive a cultural change? 

First, you have to recognise that driving cultural change within an organisation is all about influencing the existing culture. It’s a psychological change first. The question isn’t exactly about replacing existing talents as they are valuable to your core business capabilities.

So, how do you strategically influence a shift in your people’s culture?

  • Redefine roles and create learning opportunities for existing talent to acquire necessary digital skills
  • Train team managers as integrators of the new ways of operation

As trained integrators they now have the technical skills in addition to their knowledge of the business to influence change within their team. This gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility. They now also serve as role models to the rest of the team.

  • Create specialised roles such as technology innovation managers to lead transformation efforts
  • Create a wave of influence with new digital-savvy hires. These sets of hires will bring the startup kind of boldness to your culture, creating a workforce that sees disruptions to the traditional model as growth

Resistance on the part of employees and key management executives in supporting changes that come with digital transformation is a common encounter. So what do you do?

  • Make employees and key executives a part of the project from the beginning. Collaborate with them in charting the direction of the change
  • Create themes for the change that include the potential benefits. Create excitement of something special around the initiatives, so employees can catch the bug as well
  • Implement changes incrementally. Each successful phase of the project get the executives and employees to believe in the transformation as a whole
  • Encourage the culture of learning by providing easy access to technical assistance
  • Be transparent and keep channels of communication open for feedback to earn trust 

You’re forming non-empowered and siloed teams

While customers are indifferent to organisational structure, 75% of executives still admit that their business functions are competing rather than collaborating. But teamwork makes the dream work. A huge part of digital transformation is all about giving customers a seamless experience across their life-cycle. That's not possible when your teams and operations are siloed. A case where various departments have their own objectives and nothing is cross-cutting across teams creates absolute chaos and bad customer experience that grinds the whole transformation to a halt. Breaking up silos across your organisation involves making sure everyone understands and collectively key into the vision for a digital transformation. You must ensure all departments collaborate to achieve the business objectives 

Take for example your marketing, sales and customer experience teams would close more deals and retain more customers if they work in sync and share information with one another in real-time. When these teams compete, it ruins customer experience. To rally different departments behind a digital change you need to communicate what’s new, what’s different, and what’s stopping to enable the new priorities. This way every team will be attuned to customer needs and serve them without disparity and redundancy that frustrates customers.

The easiest way to break these silos is creating cross-functional teams. A cross-functional team comprises individuals from different business areas such as marketing, HR, operations, and finance collaborating to achieve a common objective. Creating a team of talents from various departments to drive your digital transformation guarantees success. Why? A cross-functional team brings different viewpoints and knowledge to digital transformation projects that ensure well-rounded solutions are created. It makes it possible to identify challenges that would have slowed down digital transformation well in advance. These teams have complete capability and flexibility to adapt to fluctuating market needs to drive the objectives for digital transformation as needed. This is largely due to the fact that the team is equipped with all the essential skills and don’t have to wait and rely on external sources or other departments to tackle challenges and keep transformation in motion.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, before the launch of any digital transformation projects, it is important for you to establish its business objective for the organisation. Secondly, know your customer in depth  and identify the digital tools you need to create a customer-centric digital experience. Lastly, internally cutivate the skills and talents to promote a digital and innovative culture.

To galvanise these three things together quickly and accelerate your value-to-market time, the role of a digital transformation partner like Fabrics cannot be over-emphasised.


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