4 Things That All Managers Should Know About Digital Transformation (But Most Don't)

As seen on Inc.com

Today, technology has become central to how every business competes. Futuristic advancements like artificial intelligencebig data and cloud computingare no longer pie-in-the-sky propositions, but mission critical initiatives that leaders are racing to implement within their organizations.

Unfortunately, most of these initiatives fail. In fact, McKinsey found that fewer than a third of organizational transformations succeed. That’s incredibly sobering. Imagine any other initiative with that type of expected return not only getting consistently funded, but treated as a wise investment in the future. 

Yet digital transformation doesn’t have to be a sucker’s bet. The truth is that digital transformation is human transformation and that’s where you need to start. Initiatives fail because organizations habitually get blinded by the “gee-whiz” aspects of technology, don’t focus on clear business objectives, scale too fast and then declare victory way too early.

1. Focus on People First, Technology Second

At first, digital transformation seems fairly straightforward. There are many capable vendors that can competently implement cloud technology, automation, artificial intelligence applications or whatever else you’re looking for. So, theoretically, at least, a standard procurement process should be effective in sourcing and executing a project.

2. Establish Clear Business Outcomes

Another common mistake executives make when implementing new technology is to focus on the capabilities of the technology itself, rather than the business outcome you hope to achieve. Are you trying to drive transactions, improve service and customer experience or something else entirely. You need to determine that before you can even think about a technical approach.

3. Identify a Keystone Change 

Once the vision is in place, the tendency, all too often, is to embark on what becomes a “five-year death march” to achieve it. In the end, everybody ends up frustrated, angry and, inevitably, it turns out that by the time the vision is achieved, the technology is out of date.

4. Treat Transformation as a Journey, Not a Destination

Perhaps the most dangerous part of any transformation is when the initial objectives have been achieved. That’s when motivation begins to weaken and complacency sets in. In my book, Cascades, I call this problem “surviving victory” and it is a crucial element of every transformational effort. The key to surviving victory is to plan for it from the start.

To read the full article by By Greg Satell on Inc.com, click here. 

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