As we just entered the year 2020 and digital transformations are around for some time now, let us take a step back on how to accelerate new initiatives this year. Nobody said that digital transformations will be a walk in the park, instead, organizations have faced different results from their recent projects – and unfortunately – most have failed. In a study conducted by McKinsey, less than 30 percent succeed with their digital transformations.

Why do Digital Transformations Fail?

There are plenty of reasons why digital transformation fail, but Harvard Business Review has found two challenges that have to be mitigated and managed from the start.

Challenge 1 – Unspoken disagreement among top managers about goals

If the top leaders in your organization are not on the same page when it comes to goals, prioritization or strategy, their direct reports will juggle what has to executed by when and with what expected result.

The solution: Ensure a defined strategy with clear measurements, prioritizations, and goals. It is mission critical that direct reports know exactly what to work on and what is expected from them.

Challenge 2 – A divide between digital capabilities supporting the pilot and the capabilities available to support scaling it

If your project the CTO – or in general your IT responsible – is not able to provide a clear roadmap of how the used disruptive technology can be scaled, you have a serious problem at hand. This can delay an entire product-line or providing new products to clients.

the solution: Ensure there is a checkpoint early in the project that your IT staff validates the options to scale their IT design. If your team does not have the capabilities or expertise by themself, don’t make the mistake to take it for granted, but instead hire external expertise or consultants. A small investment at the beginning will solve a big issue when it comes to delivering results.

That said, invest the time needed to address and mitigate both challenges above to ensure a smooth digital transformation.

The keys to success

In the study of McKinsey, they found out that organizations with successful digital transformations deploy more technologies than others. At first sight, this might seem counterintuitive, given the broader portfolio of disruptive technologies could result in more complex transformations and, therefore, the more digital transformation would fail. However, the research clearly shows that organizations embracing more sophisticated technologies, such as the Internet of Things (“IoT”), Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) or Machine Learning (“ML”), are more likely to succeed with their digital transformations than others.

Their research clearly points out a set of factors that could improve the chances of your digital transformation succeeding, and fall into fice categories:

  1. Having the right, digital-savvy leaders in place
  2. Building capabilities for the workforce of the future
  3. Empowering people to work in new ways
  4. giving day-to-day tools a digital upgrade
  5. communicating frequently via traditional and digital methods

Almost every organization will launch new digital transformations in 2020 and with the success factors above they might succeed. I encourage you to read both articles from HBR and McKinsey to supercharge your next project.

Use a Framework

If you are considering starting a new innovation or digital transformation project, I recommend using a framework to ensure all elements are covered to ensure the highest success rate. I’ve created such a framework that focusses on six key elements:

  1. Customer
  2. Strategy
  3. Experience
  4. Culture
  5. Technology
  6. Process & Skills

The goal of this framework is that you are validating those six elements and how your project might be impacted by these and mitigate any risks from the start. If there is one thing I want you to keep in your mind whilst crafting your project, ensure the customer is at the center of everything you want todo. Without your customers, there is no business.

You can find more information about the Digital Transformation Framework here.

Why do Digital Transformations fail?

1- limited usage of technology
2- Unspoken disagreement among top managers about goals
3- A divide between digital capabilities supporting the pilot and the capabilities available to support scaling it

What are succes factors in Digital Transformations?

1- Having the right, digital-savvy leaders in place
2- Building capabilities for the workforce of the future
3- Empowering people to work in new ways
4- giving day-to-day tools a digital upgrade
5- communicating frequently via traditional and digital methods