4 Common Misconceptions About Digital Transformation
Our technology-empowered world continues to evolve at rapid pace, and so do the expectations of customers.
The brands that will succeed tomorrow and in the future will be those that keep up with that change.
While the vast majority of companies have transformation initiatives, in my digital transformation consulting work, I have noticed four common misconceptions about digital transformation that have the potential to derail even the most well funded efforts. Is your company falling prey to any of these fallacies?
1) DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IS ABOUT TECHNOLOGY
Some stakeholders define initiatives like an ERP upgrade or the migration of key services and applications to the cloud as “digital transformation.”
While a successful transformation is certainly enabled by technology, successful transformations are not driven by it.
Instead, they are driven by specific business results and the associated change to the experiences of customers, employees or other stakeholders that will drive that business result.
Achieving a new vision for the way your business engages with all its constituents is no doubt going to involve technology as one driver, but equally important will be innovations to business processes, organizational structure, business models and more.
Technology is not only the tail that shouldn’t wag the dog, it’s only one of the tails.
2) YOU WILL FINISH YOUR TRANSFORMATION
When you set out on your digital transformation journey, hopefully you have a vision of where you want to wind up. A goal.
But, it’s a misconception that once you reach your goals and achieve that vision, you’ll be finished with the transformation.
In reality, you are most likely never going to be finished.
The world is in an era of rapid change, and it will probably stay that way for the foreseeable future. With advancements like machine learning, 5G, and AI, there will continue to be new things to learn and use in your business, and new competitive threats that are innovating around the latest technology.
You should definitely celebrate victorious milestones achieved along the way, but best to plan for a state of fairly continuous transformation for the foreseeable future if you want to keep up with the rate of change in the world.
3) IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUR DIGITAL TOUCHPOINTS
It’s reasonable that a lot of people have the idea that digital transformation is primarily about the “digital” manifestations of your business such as your mobile apps and websites.
But while these are certainly key components, digital transformation should reach across your full customer experience because success today requires that you make your brand work elegantly for customers who live a digital lifestyle, not just give them a good app or web site.
This includes “real world” factors such as having great wifi in your facilities, as well as beacons for way finding in any physical environment like stores, stadiums or university campuses.
It means equipping customer-facing employees with the technology to provide an enhanced service experience when interacting 1–1, and redesigning your physical layouts for a digital world, such as stores and restaurants that have re-modeled their retail locations to be more conducive who order in advance for pickup.
4) YOU’RE ALREADY DOING IT
Many companies, when surveyed, describe themselves as being “in the middle” of a digital transformation, and it’s possible that your company is well on its way too, but sometimes what is labeled “transformation” is really just a program of incremental improvement.
The most successful companies today have positioned digital at the center of everything they are doing. Digital is so critical to their operations that their company would barely exist without it. Consider Amazon, Uber, Google or Netflix. While your business may be different from theirs, I would humbly suggest that your transformation should have the ambition of moving your company to be the “Netflix” of your industry, not simply adding some digital bells and whistles to a “legacy” business model.
It’s absolutely the right thing to pursue incremental improvements to all your customer interactions (and other areas of the business as well), but companies that bundle up a bunch of these types of step-wise enhancements and call it transformation, run the risk of failing to develop the kind of ambitious vision that may be necessary to maximize the opportunities of the transformation of the world, or possibly even to survive.
Have you ever fallen for one of these misconceptions about digital transformation? If so, what helped you get past that? Or perhaps you are still in the early stages of your digital transformation, and you are working through one of these misconceptions right now? Or do you think there are any other common misconceptions about digital transformation, if so please share! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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