Organisations are increasingly looking to digital transformation to deliver significant business benefits.
These benefits can include cost savings, streamlined processes, improved customer experiences, and less complex or bloated operating models, just to name a few. Digital transformation goes beyond simply replicated a business’s existing, manual processes in an electronic system or application. Even simply moving an organisation’s data and workloads to the cloud doesn’t really count as a digital transformation.
For a digital transformation to live up to its name, it must be truly transformative. That means it must fundamentally improve and alter an organisation’s processes. The use of technology to do this is almost incidental. The most important part of a digital transformation is the rethinking of existing ways of working and introducing innovations and new ideas.
Because many organisations don’t understand this, they risk wasting time and money on technology investments that may deliver incremental improvements that won’t necessarily deliver on the true promise of digital transformation.
This could be why new studies have found digital transformation levels across businesses are falling at an alarming rate even though most organisations are the most technologically advanced they have ever been. Research from Everest Group found that 78 per cent of digital transformation projects failed to meet the business objectives, and 73 per cent of projects failed to provide any business value at all. This is a hugely concerning number, not only because businesses are clearly wasting time and resources for little benefit, but also because the low rate of success could inhibit organisations from committing to future transformation projects due to the perceived risk.
Indeed, while the benefits of a digital business transformation are great, so too are the risk factors in achieving this goal. Organisations that are looking to transform can face the realities of disrupted operations while looking to implement new and more innovative technologies. The inability to operate and to transform at the same time can prevent organisations from achieving true value from transformational efforts.
However, short-term business resiliency and effectiveness doesn’t have to be compromised to achieve successful, long-term transformation.
Digital transformation is a necessary and valuable journey for businesses to go on. However, too often organisations end up working with vendors that are focused on greenfield innovation instead of finding the right solution for that business’s needs. Similarly, vendors can focus so heavily on the transformation that business-as-usual suffers, putting the business at risk. It’s essential for organisations considering implementing innovative technology to be able to run and transform at the same time.
Positive disruption can be a powerful way for organisations to grow and to sharpen their competitive edge. However, disruption for its own sake can be costly and damaging, and organisations can struggle to rebound following a negative disruption or a disruption without a corresponding benefit.
Successful transformation projects are those that minimise the negative parts of disruption and focus instead on how to achieve key business benefits. It’s important to work with transformation partners that can deliver pragmatism, discipline, and customer-centric innovation to deliver trusted, proven solutions that businesses need to succeed in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace.
There are five core requirements to reduce risk:
1. Balance short-term business resiliency with long-term transformation
Transformation can’t be the sole focus for a business. It’s essential to be able to operate as usual while transforming so the business can keep one eye on current performance and another eye on future requirements.
2. Achieve IT flexibility across compatibility, pricing, and deployment
Organisations need to have flexibility across the IT landscape so they can continue to sweat existing investments and maximise the value of legacy technologies even while moving towards new technology. Therefore, it’s essential to work with a partner that offers an open and backwards-compatible portfolio with a variety of deployment and pricing models.
3. Futureproof IT investments
It’s essential to make the right decisions now to ensure that the business’s technology will continue to deliver benefits in the long term.
4. Work with a transformation-focused ecosystem
Transformation can’t occur in a vacuum, and organisations need to find partners and vendors that can offer the right solutions to reach the business’s transformation goals.
5. Demand long-term support from technology partners
Transformation budgets can be wasted on technology that’s not supported over the long term, so businesses must choose their partners and vendors carefully to ensure they’ll be with them for the long haul.
For a transformation to succeed, it must map precisely to the organisation’s goals. It can be easy to get side-tracked or distracted by new technologies; however, businesses need to keep their ultimate goals at the forefront of any transformation roadmap.