Digital transformation is no longer a novelty. We are all inside the tornado of converting our business and consumer experiences to digital. Businesses win based on the distribution of superior digital experiences.
“Businesses win based on the distribution of superior digital experiences.”
The digital tornado is disruptive to the status quo, and it’s hard for budgets and expertise to catch up with the changes. The principal difference to this transformation versus past business transformations is the increased velocity at which it is occurring.
There are market leaders who are addressing our new digital world with a purposeful vision, precise planning, strong project management, and company-wide optimization. These are prescient companies that (with all other things being equal) will enjoy most of the profits of their markets.
Digital transformation no longer demands incredible foresight, and you can still beat your competition based on cultural collaboration for digital.
Transitioning to a new way of doing business will include some unexpected turns and bumps in the road. There are barriers to digital transformation excellence, and they can sneak up on all of us when we least expect it, especially when we assume others within our organizations are on the same page as we are. Knowing the barriers is a critical competitive advantage for heading off obstacles that will slow or derail your digital transformation success. Know these barriers.
1. The Barrier of Perfection
“Do not let the desire to be perfect slow down the goal to be prolific.”
Simply put, get on with the digital transformation vision. Fail faster so you can pick winners sooner that lift the business. Getting everything perfect is not the goal. Besides, why worry about getting everything perfect if today’s overall approach is wrong?
The goal is to spread and accelerate digital transformation by way of a unified design and approach. Improving outcomes is made possible through strong project management and tightly woven team collaboration. Define your vision and let it be your North Star in times of company doubt. Stay the course.
2. The Barrier of Complexity
“Do not allow The Curse of Knowledge to inflate complexity.”
For the users of technology, complexity is an enemy. If you are designing and implementing systems to support transformation, you had better get this message. The world is already perplexing; we don’t need to grapple with systems that stall us and lack integration with other systems.
Don’t try to show how much you know by complicating how technology works. Instead, focus on deploying an elegant platform with a single data model that improves the efficacy of all users.
One of the requirements of retaining great employees who enable transformative growth is to build an environment that supports smooth productivity for all. When doing so, a healthy culture gets cultivated that lets users know the company cares. You know the saying, don’t show me how much you know until you show me how much you care. That’s the message of simple and compelling user experiences.
Watch this short video about user experiences, the words companies use, and what everyone truly wants:
3. The Barrier of Unqualified Ideas
“Do not fail to qualify ideas in a specific timeframe.”
Ideas are abundant when smart people work with you, and that’s a beautiful thing. However, ideas need specific characteristics to be fruitful.
Two of those idea requirements are achievability and resources. We should only pursue those ideas we believe will have a substantial impact and can be accomplished with available resources. Mediocrity and project failure is pervasive in organizations, let’s remove the forgettable before it has a chance to get started.
Being even more accountable, let’s define due dates and deadlines, so we stay on schedule for our digital transformation journey. Long-term changes need a series of success stories to maintain the right kind of company-wide support.
4. The Barrier of Lack of Context
“Don't miss the opportunity to marry digital transformation to desired results.”
If a leader likes telling their teams what to do without context, shame on them for not being a teacher. Managers (not leaders) who behave this way act like they are working on a 1935 assembly line and ignore how easy it is to lose great employees. How does the world look from inside that bubble?
You must assume that your great employees (have you heard of social media) are not secret to your competitors. Leaders can combat this transparency on the outside with clear communications on the inside of why we are making the change and our key strategies (the how) to achieve the change.
Context makes everyone part of the change, inspiring employees to a new day. To sell change internally, they want to see how it removes pain for them and delivers gain. Communicating this understanding at the individual, team and company level keeps everything aligned.
Furthermore, let your people focus on outcomes allowing them to become strategic in their roles about how to get to the result that’s needed. That’s how new leaders become creative about solving future problems.
Watch how Crossfuze CEO Chris Howard discusses the context of having the End in Mind:
5. The Barrier of Lack-of-Metrics
“Do not miss the smart move of defining your most essential metrics early.”
Digital transformation isn’t only a project; it’s a story. You could be telling this story about your digital journey for the next ten years. Make it a good story littered with metrics that show the real and meaningful change that ripples throughout and outside your organization.
Get into a room with your team and define what are the most critical 3-4 measurements of digital transformation, how do we track them, how do we present the numbers, what is the communication cadence, and who is on the distribution list?
It’s a wise move that the metrics you choose contribute to the measurements your CEO or CFO cares about the most. Be in a state of kaizen (constant improvement) around those metrics at the expense of unprioritized KPIs.
A company’s adaptability signals its ability to survive and flourish
Fear is a powerful emotion and if that’s what it takes for people to move, then communicate a sense of urgency. Moreover, employees can lack a sense of agency to move forward. A lack of action cannot be allowed at your company.
“I never worry about action, but only about inaction.” - Winston Churchill
Broad changes are happening in the world, and we have seen cautionary tales about companies that have adapted too slowly. We see companies who can execute in a digital world strengthen while others scramble to catch up—and some who have succumbed due to their subpar attempts. How one approaches digital adaptation and the user experience, is critical to the company’s ability to compete.
Some companies will erroneously choose to do it themselves or will pick technology service partners based on current relationships. These choices can negatively impact careers with disappointing results since the gravity of the change was underestimated and domain experience was needed.
Digital transformation capabilities are in a severe supply and demand quandary. Companies must do their homework early on to pinpoint proven providers and partners who know how to help companies win and can prove their value from the start.
“Companies must do their homework early on to pinpoint proven providers and partners who know how to help companies win and can prove their value from the start.”
Proven partners will know how to grab the digital transformation tornado by the tail, give you a clear roadmap of progress, and execute. We do not have the option of running into a storm shelter only to see everything we have worked ripped apart piece by piece or worse yet, all at once. We must enthusiastically face digital transformation directly to discover the new opportunities on the other side of the transition. Progress waits for no one. Let’s get to it.