Avoiding the digital transformation paradox: Seven check points for successful digital transformation

As businesses seek to meet consumer expectations and match their ever-growing demands, companies are looking to transform their outdated technology strategy.

As businesses seek to meet consumer expectations and match their ever-growing demands, companies are looking to transform their outdated technology strategy to help provide immersive and positive customer experiences. The problem is, however, that this places direct strain on IT resources to not only develop a digital transformation (DX) strategy that meets customer needs now, but to ensure that this will be fit for the future. 

Our recent research – surveying CTOs, CIOs and IT Directors – highlighted seven key checkpoints for IT decision-makers which are critical to successfully implement DX strategy in order to meet the demands of the connected customer. 

Scope of opportunity 

Digital transformation was cited as the highest value future technology investment by nearly half of respondents (45 per cent). This, surprisingly, featured above mobile app development, cloud software and personalisation, highlighting the level of importance IT Directors are currently placing on this activity.

However, there seems to be a disconnect when it comes to recognising the need for DX and deploying the trend, as only 7 per cent believe that they will have a strategy in place by the end of the year – with a third (33 per cent) looking to formalise plans by the end of 2018, and 38 per cent by 2020.

Even more worrying is the fact that 6 per cent of IT Directors believe their strategy is full of good ideas but will never get implemented. These organisations risk being left behind in such a fast-moving market as their competitors’ DX plans come to fruition.

Value added

Digital transformation needs to align with the business’ main priorities and work towards a common goal. Almost two thirds of IT Directors claim their number one priority is customer experience, that would be a preferable place for digital transformation efforts to start in terms of focus. DX will help businesses to better align with their customers’ demands as it responds to the increasing reliance that consumers place on technology.

Many IT Directors’ DX plans are also motivated by operational complexities, with 61 per cent expressing a desire to modernise their business. Simplifying processes and enabling greater productivity are a key part of this, which feeds directly into the quality of customer experience. 

Potential barriers 

A disconnect from the top seems to prevail in being the top challenge when implementing DX strategy, as a third (33 per cent) rated ‘lack of buy-in at board level’ and a further quarter (23 per cent) cited ‘management level buy-in’ as a major obstacle for change. 

Part of the problem is that the cost (59 per cent) and time (40 per cent) involved in digital transformation is a fundamental concern among IT teams. To convince senior decision-makers to implement DX, it is essential to develop a compelling business case which carefully addresses any financial or time sensitive concerns, and sits at the heart of wider business’ goals. 

It’s also important for businesses to look to invest in scalable DX technology that adds long-term value, potentially working with a third-party technology partner to streamline resources. By taking a long-term view, IT Directors can present this investment as part of a strategic approach. This should underline the ongoing business benefits of digital transformation and the continuous improvements to operations and processes it presents. 

Legacy systems 

To ensure that the DX strategy has the best chance of effectively providing the desired results, IT teams need to critically evaluate whether their existing systems are appropriate to support this development. Our research showed that more often than not they aren’t, with almost half (47 per cent) of IT Directors feel their existing systems are no longer fit for purpose. And 6 in 10 described ‘lack of integration’ as the key problem, as it impacts their speed, performance, and the ability to innovate in line with customer expectations.

Additionally, while many IT Directors say their current systems are not fit for the future, a quarter (27 per cent) only analyse them for upgrades/improvements every couple of years, while – worryingly – a fifth (18 per cent) have never reviewed their systems.

Finding the right solution 

Eighty-two per cent of IT Directors said that greater business agility is important, with 37 per cent labelling it a ‘must have’. Agile software development is regarded by many as the most effective way to deliver rapid, flexible digital transformation, and 87 per cent of the IT Directors we polled were aware of this concept. Yet, less than half (42 per cent) of those that had heard of it have used the concept in the project. 

Agile software development is the most effective route for digital transformation, and early adopters have a real opportunity to streamline internal processes and differentiate their customer experience capabilities from competitors in the market. 

Plan of action 

DX needs a robust implementation plan to ensure that the transformation is seamless and causes little – if any – disruption to the business as possible. And working with a third-party technology partner may prove the most effective way to ensure new solutions are delivered on time, on budget, with minimum disruption.

Collaborating in this manner utilises the expertise of implementation partners to ensure seamless integration of DX projects into established business models – and gives companies the benefit of the latest technology, which has already been tried and tested in previous roll outs by the software supplier. 

What’s next?

For many of the IT Directors that we surveyed, the true value of their DX improvements will only be fully realised further down the line. In fact, just over a third (38 per cent) don’t expect to reap the full rewards of their digital transformation strategy until 2020.

Businesses that realise the potential of this development now, and use agile solutions to create long-term digital transformation strategies which will be ready to reap the benefits well into the future.

Digital transformation is an emerging opportunity, as consumers’ desire for technology-led engagement will continue to disrupt and shape the market. By implementing a DX strategy now, IT Directors will have the flexible software platforms they need to evolve with the consumer landscape in the long-term and remain ahead of the curve – rather than fighting an expensive and time-consuming battle with increasingly inadequate software systems. 

-          For more information download the full Digital Transformation report here.

Rowan Welch, Account Director, Black Pepper Software
Image Credit: Chombosan / Shutterstock