Why Digital Transformation Projects Go Wrong

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Digital transformation is touted to be one of the biggest considerations for businesses, with $1.3 trillion investment being forecasted globally by 2018. Across organisations of all sizes and industries, people are working hard to bring their systems up to scratch and compete on a stage where consumers are driving demand for better products and services.

But digital transformation is no easy task. Typically, it will span a number of different interlinking projects, and cross boundaries across business areas both internally and externally. This creates a raft of pitfalls for any well-meaning organisation looking to upgrade their systems and meet customer expectations. The best way to start with any wide-reaching, in-depth project like digital transformation is to have a focus, be aware of the risks, and get a clear plan in place before you start.

Here are just some of the ways your digital transformation could come unstuck, and how to combat it before it happens:

1. Too much focus on the business and not the customer

Ok, so you’d be right in saying that digital transformation is all about increasing your competitive advantage. It’s natural to be thinking about how improved software services and products could help you increase ROI and drive value. But too much focus on elements like that and a failure to remember who’s in the driving seat of your success, and you could end up with rather underwhelming results.

When we talk about who’s in the driving seat, we’re of course referring to your customers. They’re the ones who’ll rate your software and apps without mercy, and either stay with you, or leave to go to a competitor if the offering doesn’t suit their needs.  It’s not unusual for businesses to spend time and money gathering vast amounts of data to back up theories of increasing ROI, without a clear plan for how that data can play a role in system development.

2. Not considering user experience

A neat little answer to the above issue is to implement UX design into all stages of your digital transformation. User experience is key here, and that’s exactly what a UX designer will focus on. But that’s not all, they’ll tie in your business objectives, and makes sense of large amounts of messy data gathered in the initial stages to make sense of things.

With this information consolidated, you’ll be able to design a plan, and eventually, a digital product that ticks all the boxes when it comes to satisfying the user and delivering what you need from a business perspective. You just need to hire the right UX talent or outsource to a specialist agency to get this side of things tied off to perfection.  Doing this from the start will also help you avoid time-consuming unpicking of previous work to get results.

3. Going for broke

Getting over excited about the possibilities digital offers means that many companies simply attempt to overhaul and digitize everything in one go. This creates a huge workflow and lots of room for error. Taking things at a steadier pace with a staged plan for your new or revamped systems is a safer, sensible approach. That way, you can hone each new product or service being launching into the next. The best digital transformation projects allow time for testing, feedback and tweaking.

Then there’s the idea of making everything digital. When looking at your business objectives and feedback from customers, get a good understanding of what needs to be digitized. Maybe some things are better as they are. Or perhaps, rather than creating a new system, existing ones can be altered slightly to bring them up-to-scratch.

4. Forgetting about security

Cyber attacks are big news in today’s business world, and the consequences can be dire in terms of loss of revenue, brand confidence and downtime, not to mention the hefty fines associated with any breaches that compromise personal or sensitive data in light of the new GDPR.

Any business developing new or upgraded digital systems should be considering cybersecurity as part of the project from the very beginning. Getting a solid plan in place will allow you to concentrate on running your business day-to-day, knowing you have the support you need should the worst happen. Whether that’s in-house, or through a specialist cybersecurity provider. Just make sure your plan in constantly evolving to meet new threats.

5. Not getting everyone onboard from the start

Without the right support from across the business, your digital transformation project could fall flat from the start. Why? Because the intrinsic nature of digital transformation means that the knowledge and insights from both the people that work within the business and your customers are the best way to create digital solutions that fit the bill. It’s only the people who interact with these digital platforms day-to-day who can truly tell you what will work, and what won’t.

Similarly, getting buy-in for business leaders is crucial to avoid any hiccups along the way. A consolidated approach based on open communication lies at the heart of every successful digital transformation project.

In conclusion…

It certainly is exciting times for businesses looking to digitally transform. But as with any major business overhaul, it comes with a whole host of pitfalls and challenges. Even large, established companies have fallen foul to some of these, so taking note of the best ways to approach it will stand you in good stead before you get cracking in earnest.

Understanding your objectives, putting the customer first and ticking off essentials like cybersecurity and internal collaboration are all ways to get your projects off on the right foot. This, together with the right expert support and a clear plan will help you breeze through your digital transformation without numerous, major issues at every stage.

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