Why Your Enterprise Keeps Failing At Digital Transformation
Digital transformation has been pivotal to General Electric’s (GE) corporate strategy for years. The company first announced its Predix industrial software platform in 2013 and has since positioned itself as a “digital industrial” company. Though GE started to cover ground toward its digital transformation goals and began generating revenue from the Predix platform, the company ultimately failed to drive an organization-wide evolution. Decisions about what technology to implement were made by individual business units, and the GE Digital arm was tasked with turning a profit quickly rather than with a focus on meeting customer needs. The result: The departure of its CEO last year and the decline of its stock value from $250 billion in 2015 to $90 billion in 2019.
GE isn’t alone in its struggles: 84% of organizations’ digital transformation projects fail. After experiencing botched digital transformation initiatives, many business leaders obsessively focus on adding modern technology capabilities. They want to replicate the successes of nimble, industry-disrupting startups and see the adoption of new tech capabilities as a way to fight digital transformation fatigue.
But this is just tilting at windmills, a fight that can’t be won. Digitally native startups don’t have the baggage of legacy operations and systems, nor are they tied down by the same economic principles. Unlike enterprise companies, startups’ primary sources of revenue aren’t based on existing practices that have often been in place for decades — practices that often must evolve in order to continue driving value. If traditional enterprises bled cash like Uber, many would fail to make a profit and impress investors. Innovation can’t be the sole driving factor.
Companies are failing at digital transformation because they’re losing sight of what’s actually critical to these initiatives: the customer. Only 45% of companies have customer care at the center of their digital transformation initiatives, according to Forrester. And many of these companies approach customer centricity from a self-servicing perspective without having empathy for customers’ ecosystems and preferred ways of working.
When companies ghost their customers during digital transformations, the end products and services turn into yesterday’s news. Daily newspapers are rapidly vanishing, yet the New York Times is showing serious profits in digital sales. In large part, that’s due to the paper’s commitment to better understanding its audience and meeting them where they’re at. Whether that’s on their commutes with a podcast that now reaches 2 million listeners a day, developing documentaries and TV series for streaming apps like Hulu and Netflix, or providing digital subscriptions for phones and tablets, the New York Times has changed the narrative for print newspapers.
To survive and thrive amid industry disruption as the New York Times has, companies must go beyond placing the customer at the heart of digital transformation. Enterprise organizations must also develop the capacity to empathize with customers and deliver solutions that are not solely beneficial to the business.
Your organization can achieve the true customer centricity needed to power digital transformation by identifying how the customer wants to interact with your business and how your business affects their world.
Instead of mimicking the technology initiatives of startups and digitally native companies, begin by understanding what your customers want most and the aspects of the customer experience they want to stay the same, and then prioritize the highest-value changes. Your digital transformation goals should be driven by what you uncover through this process — not by what the popular kids are doing.
Meeting your customers where they’re at requires businesses to think beyond the limits of your current business model but within the confines of customers’ lives. Consider these goalposts to make customers the cornerstone of your digital transformation initiatives.
This article originally appeared on forbes.com To read the full article and see the images, click here.
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