Digital Transformation: Myths and Realities (Part 1/2)

25 January 2021   |   by Kandarp Pandya   |   Digital Transformation

So, the irony is, that while everyone wants to be the flag bearer of digital transformation, there is a lot of haze around the realities of digital transformation. The facts are obfuscated by the myths of angels and mermaids and phoenixes.

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The hype around Digital Transformation is so much that every enterprise wants to get on the bandwagon. It is also a necessity to remain competitive in the modern business landscape. Few organizations can stand the test of time without a plan to transform digitally. So, to make sure that one’s business does not fall behind, everyone is involved in some form of digital transformation or the other.

Everyone has an opinion on what constitutes a digital transformation and what can be kept out of it. The opinions range from technological advances to customer experiences. From daunting process changes to superpower laden outcomes. The result is a confused organization with questions on what to change, which programs take priority, what should be the speed and who are the stakeholders?

So, the irony is, that while everyone wants to be the flag bearer of digital transformation, there is a lot of haze around the realities of digital transformation. The facts are obfuscated by the myths of angels and mermaids and phoenixes.

Let us look at some myths and realities of digital transformation.


#1 Myth: We are dawdling behind everybody else.
Reality: Very few enterprises have cracked the code on digital transformation. 70% of all digital transformation initiatives do not reach their goals.


Most enterprises are still struggling with everything. From which technologies to implement or retire, to whether and how to restructure their organization, to how best to shift the marketing mix and budget, to which metrics to track.

What we need to understand is that most digital technologies provide possibilities for improving efficiency and customer understanding. But if people lack the right mindset to change and if the current organizational practices are blemished, digital transformation simply magnifies those flaws.

Successful transformation is complicated and includes aligning technology with business features, integrating new technologies with legacy technologies, and delivering innovation in areas which are uncomfortable and risky.

Hence digital should be considered as an enabler, as an alternative to a well-defined end goal. Only then enterprises can better decide how their digital transformation technique will affect the customer experience, in addition to driving revenue and efficiency gains.


#2 Myth: Digital transformation is all about (new) technology.
Reality: Digital transformation is an amalgamation of new business habits, models, workflows, org strategy, culture, ideas, and thought process.


While technology is core to digital transformation, it is not end-all and be-all of digital progression.

In this digital age, transformation connotes a paradigm shift where the companies need to think of:

  • Adopting new business habits (e.g. digitizing workspace, remote working, online collaboration etc.), models (e.g. lean, and agile), and workflows (e.g. approvals, hiring, claims etc.)
  • Evolving organizational strategy around innovative products, newer markets, fresher ways to communicate with employees, customers, and other stakeholders, identifying and overcoming new competitors early.
  • Integrating new cultures, ideas and thought processes. “Culture eats the strategy for breakfast” as Peter Drucker said. So, any resistance to change will not yield results. Adaptability, innovation and evolution should be made the core of the corporate culture.

Most transformational stimulus comes from proper and tried operational technology (for example, networking and databases) and strategic technology (enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management software). It rarely comes from emerging technology (such as augmented reality) or disruptive technology (such as machine learning).


#3 Myth: Digital transformation is a “project” and can be "completely" outsourced.
Reality: Digital transformation is a journey that only accelerates as time goes by and it needs to be an enterprise-wide undertaking.


For a digital transformation program to succeed, it needs to be an enterprise-wide undertaking with involvement from stakeholders across the organization. That, however, does not mean an organization-wide transition to digital. Yes, stakeholders across the organization need to be involved, but not every operation across departments must be digitized.

One of the most palpable myths surrounding digital transformation is that it's an isolated, one-off project and it can be outsourced completely without any effort from within the enterprise.

Digitization neither stops with a single project completion nor is its success limited to the management of a complex technological project. Digital transformation is an ongoing process; one that will require adjustments and involvement from the enterprise to maintain success.

The emergence of new technologies will not slow down, and their adoption will continue to accelerate resulting in digital transformation on fast-track. It is imperative that enterprises build robust digital transformation competencies.


#4 Myth: Digital transformation will allow machines to replace humans.
Reality: Digital transformation is still human centric. Machines are only as good as data fed and the application of insights generated.


An enterprise may install a dozen new software platforms and automate a dozen processes. But today’s businesses are still human centred. Organizations are still led by humans and humans still run the show.

Machine learning is not new. The novelty is in the speed at which insights can be derived, and the sophistication of actions individuals can take to create compelling experiences for their customers.

Moreover, Machine learning depends profoundly on past data to act as predictor of “what next”. That way, one can argue that relying on machine will make the enterprise a follower and not a leader. Machines cannot “think”. It will still be the job of the human.

Although much can be automated, humans will always be required to “feed the machines” with the right data.

Technology should be seen not as the end but as the means.


#5 Myth: Follow other's successful digital transformation examples to succeed yourself.
Reality: Enterprises will only be successful in their digital transformation if they build digital experiences around what their customers truly want.


Enterprises that seek transformations (digital and otherwise) often bring in a legion of external consultants who tend to apply one-size-fits-all solutions in the name of “best practices”.

General tendency is to believe that investing money into new platforms and following these “best practices” because others, especially the competition is doing it will result in a successful digital transformation.

Instead, enterprises must put thought to the customer. Customer experience is a brand’s greatest differentiator.

89 percent of customers say they’ll stop doing business with a brand after one bad experience. So, enterprises cannot discount how the quality of how their digital offerings impacts customer experience in terms of brand reputation and customer loyalty.

Before spending money on new technologies or making other significant changes, enterprises must take stock of what their customers want. Customer experience must be at the core of digital transformation.

Conclusion

If you get these myths, you will be less likely to fall prey to the hype about transformation and be extra aware of how gruelling the process is. Eliminating these myths and gaining a transparent view of what is required for transformation is important for success.

Digital transformation works for those enterprises who focus on the fundamentals: changing the mindset of their members as well as the organizational culture and processes before deciding what digital tools to use and how to use them. What the leaders envision to be the future of the organization drives the technology, not the other way around.

Reach out to us today and we can work together to transform your business successfully.