Why Successful Digital Transformation Isn’t About Tech 2

Why Successful Digital Transformation Isn’t About Tech

Think of the phrase “digital transformation” and you’ll be hard-pressed not to consider it as something innately technical. What if we said that while IT is an obvious part of a company’s digital transformation, it’s certainly not the driving force?

Research shows that only 26% of major organisational transformations are deemed successful.

When you consider that this is something being tackled by everyone from the biggest international businesses down to smaller, regional organisations, this makes for depressing reading.

So, what’s stopping more companies completing their digital transformation effectively? In truth, a project as large-scale as this has countless ways of going wrong. One of the biggest “fails” if you like, is an inability to see just how far-reaching digital transformation projects are.

They are so intimately linked with the DNA of a company, from its culture, attitude, processes, and customer relationships, it’s easy to see why it’s really not all about tech. The human element is something that’s hard to deny.

Attitude and leadership 

The changes an immense project like this introduces are going to need the buy-in of the people. And who do we mean by “the people”? Quite simply, employees and customers. There’s been a lot of noise about focussing on the customer in digital transformation in recent months, and rightly so. But it’s also worth remembering that a company’s employees will play a vital part in getting it off the ground.

Getting the buy-in from staff across the company, using them to gather insights into processes and customer relationships, and keeping them up-to-date with the project as it progresses with all help towards getting their endorsement.

Then there’s the leadership team. Essential for enacting change – which is what digital transformation essentially boils down to – and inspiring employees, having the full support of business leaders is a must. In fact, figures from Forbes reveal that a huge 84% of projects fail to generate effective results due to a lack of CEO and senior leadership engagement.


A strong sense of what you want to achieve is another element that firmly straddles the boundaries between a technical and a more people-focussed ideology. Yes, it’s the tech that enables you as a company to connect with your customers and empower your staff, but ultimately the vision is about how and why you want to achieve those things.

Your vision will be completely unique to your business, and the service or products you provide. Having said that, they will all share the same common threads, including:

  • A clear overarching goal – engaging all those vital people we’ve talked about – the CEO, business leaders and employees.
  • The flexibility to change – many smaller businesses find it easier to tackle digital transformation because they’re more agile. Agility and the ability to flex to meet new intel or changing circumstances is something that will set you up for success.
  • Remembering the customer – you’re transforming your services or products to meet their needs. Keeping this firmly in mind throughout the project lifespan is the only way to achieve the results you need.


Data is at the heart of any effectively managed digital transformation project. Does that make it an area for techy people only? Not at all. Instead, looking at data as a means for unravelling human behaviours is the best approach. By using data to your advantage and applying it to your vision to create real user profiles, you can start building a clear idea of what direction you need to move it.

This is exactly why UX design has been hailed as integral to any great digital transformation programme. Ultimately, UX designers marry up IT with user behaviour to create a clear plan of action. By getting an experienced team on board, you’ll be in the best position to:

  • Design must-have products and devices that your users will want to use and will enjoy engaging with.
  • Suggest innovative solutions that have the power to change the face of your business and disrupt the marketplace.
  • Encourage collaboration throughout the business by combining IT with people and engaging staff, stakeholders, senior business leaders and customers.
  • Match customer need to business goals from the beginning, which will cut down on much of the rework on digital products and devices, saving you time and money.

An outward focus

It’s easy to think of digital transformation as being all about “you”, the business. But as we’ve touched on, to really make waves and develop a plan for success, the focus should start and end with the customer.

They hold the power when it comes to the eventual success of your project. By creating a true, customer-focused plan, you can use the insights and opinions gathered throughout the transformation to light the way.

UX designers will use different methods to engage with customers to do this. Workshops and surveys, as well as feedback from staff who deal with customers on a daily basis, can all be used to gather evidence and data to shape the project. And this doesn’t just apply to the initial information gathering process. Used through and beyond the project to see how your apps, products and services have landed and continue to be received is the best way to stay on top of any potential issues before they spiral out of control.

Engage and delight

Digital transformation can be a misleading team if you focus purely on the technical aspect of the phrase. Research shows that many projects fail with a lack of human input being a core factor to a lack of success. By having the buy-in of people across the business, leading the initiative from the very top down, and keeping the lines of communication open throughout, you’ll be able to effectively guide the transformation through bumps along the way.

This, along with retaining a customer focus and a clear idea of your goals will give you a strong standing when it comes to launching a momentous, influential project. Ultimately, it’s about using data and tech to connect, engage and delight people. Keep this firmly in mind, and you’ll be in great starting point to launch your digital transformation.

Andrew Machin
Andrew Machin

With over 15 years’ experience in web design and digital marketing Andrew has helped many brands, both in the UK and US, create exceptional digital experiences, from websites to in-store retail experiences, such as John Lewis, Jet2, Virgin Holidays and Interflora.

Through the success of such projects Andrew has received accolades that include high-profile awards that span innovation, strategy, design and results such as the Dadi Grand Prix Award and the Digital Impact Award for Innovation.

This experience has led to Andrew judging digital design awards, been featured in .net magazine, lecturing at Leeds university and speak at seminars and conferences across the UK.

Follow Andrew @The_Machin

Articles: 108

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