We’ve been talking about ‘digital disruption’ and 'digital transformation' for years now. So why are so many organisations still failing to seize the digital imperative?

Despite conflicting perspectives on digital disruption, the basic truth remains the same. Digital disruption is an opportunity, a chance to embrace evolving digital behaviours and engage customers and employees at every possible touch point. With a unified approach that brings individual digital projects under a common organisational goal, the value of digital disruption is wide-ranging and undeniable. So why do so many organisations see digital disruption as something that must be defended against, rather than seized?

Even once key stakeholders accept the opportunities of digital transformation, there can still be several obstacles to successful innovation. A common trap is to approach digital transformation as a series of standalone projects, rather than a cross-functional programme integrated into wider organisational goals. It’s an understandable mistake – the effort and resources required for a large-scale programme can be daunting.

Through a series of industry roundtables earlier this year, we explored the challenges that organisations encounter in their journey to digital transformation. Having engaged with organisations across diverse industries, there are three almost universal difficulties in the digital disruption space: culture, processes and technology.

Culture

Culture is often the first stumbling block. Considering the support and vision required to truly evolve a business, internal politics can lead to a lack of sponsorship or urgency for ambitious digital programmes. Individuals’ resistance to change can also prove problematic. Technophobes exist throughout the supply chain, whether it’s internal employees unwilling to adapt to digitisation, or end users that struggle to access digital services. Despite the best intentions of ‘digital first’ initiatives, it is vital for organisations to account for traditional users and ensure no one is excluded in the rush to transform existing services.

Processes

It is vital that organisations seize the digital imperative and clearly define their transformation vision. Focusing on stopgap measures rather than new digital opportunities is a common mistake, but can be countered by establishing a roadmap of measurable objectives. With the roadmap defined, mapping (or adapting) business processes in line with a digital transformation programme becomes much simpler.

Technology

A common perception is that legacy IT infrastructure presents limitations. But it is becoming increasingly straightforward to leverage previous investments and integrate existing elements into a host of new technologies. One of the most significant technology challenges is ultimately another cultural issue: updating fatigue. IT teams struggle for time and resources with the proliferation of new platforms and devices. Some resign themselves to always being behind the curve. A well designed digital transformation initiative addresses this issue. Cloud-based services can help, as instances become future-proofed, seamlessly updating while allowing for rapid and flexible adoption among new users.

Engineering success

Digital transformation efforts vary significantly between organisations.  But there are still fundamental approaches to maximise the value and impact of digitisation programmes.

Digital transformation is not about updating existing processes and services; it’s about redefining how an organisation operates holistically. It’s vital to invest in both infrastructure and people. The programme must reach customers, employees, and also partners and users across the supply chain. Collaboration and access between organisations can truly make a digital transformation programme worthwhile.

Above all, digital transformation must be purposeful, with clear value for both the user and the organisation. Success requires leadership, not ownership, and belief in your organisation’s vision. We must be guided by our own objectives rather than being swayed by the competition. After all, they’re almost certainly grappling with the same challenges – digital disruption affects us all. 

Digital Transformation