Digital transformation as a concept was introduced in the 1990s and 30 years later, we’re still trying to figure it out. The constant practice of transformation through multiple strategies has also given rise to numerous myths about digital transformation.
A great deal of research has been done on digital transformation in the past decade, there have been notable advancements in technology, and we know a lot more than we did 30 years ago. But in spite of that, there are some elements of digital transformation that many believe to be true, which are in fact, far from reality.
At Leapfrog, we get the opportunity to hear about the journey of different companies and what expectations they have from the transformation. During this process, we sometimes come across certain assumptions about digital transformation, that are nothing but myths.
Due to the popularity that this process has gained, it is easy to believe in things you keep hearing frequently, which can be misleading. Therefore, before planning to give your organization a digital makeover, you must be acquainted with the myths surrounding this process.
In this article, we will be looking at some of the myths about digital transformation and finding out the realities behind this process.
#1. Digital transformation is all about technology
When we hear “Digital transformation” it is easy to imagine using high tech tools, incorporating AI, moving to the cloud, and whatnot. This is not entirely untrue. Technology is a huge part of digital transformation, but it has a lot of other aspects than just technology.
The very definition of digital transformation is the process of reimagining the idea of business and creating new or modifying existing business models, processes, and culture to meet the changing market requirements of the digital age. This involves not only changing the technological aspects, but the organizational structure, goals, and even people. Some organizations may need to change their culture, process and some may even need to change their top talent.
Moreover, there needs to be a sync between the technology and the process. For example, your company could have an app or a website as a front end (the technological aspect), but you could also have a CRM, enterprise resource planning (ERP), or maybe a billing system on the back end. These two front and back ends must synchronize with each other. Focusing on only one of them will not be enough.
The transformation is about positioning your company in a manner that it can cope with the growing needs of the “digital age”. It should not be looked at as just “updating the website/app”. It is about your business, your strategies, and your goals to meet the expectations of customers, employees, and partners.
#2. Digital transformation is a project, a one-time thing
Transforming your company should not be regarded as a one time “Project”. Digital transformation is a long process and it is never truly “complete”.
Let’s take the example of Netflix. It started its website way back in 2004 but 15 years later, it still keeps on updating its system and algorithms according to new advancements in technology.
So, the completion of DT cannot be marked after a certain system is implemented or a milestone is achieved. It is not a single “leap”, but rather a series of small steps throughout many years, towards a digital future, whatever “digital future” means at that time.
To understand this further, we can take the example of the banking system. Banks have existed figuratively forever, but they have moved from physical banks– having a completely paper-based system with notes and cheques– to an almost paperless system. This did not happen overnight. Small advancements throughout the years made it what it is now.
So, is the transformation of banks complete? No. As time passes and technology develops further, banks will continue to transform. Netflix will keep adjusting its algorithms and adding new features to cope with new situations and increasing demands. And that’s how you should view your company’s digital transformation.
#3. Digital Transformation guarantees success
This might be the most common myth about digital transformation.
Because the term “Digital Transformation” has turned into a buzzword recently, and gained immense popularity, there might be a misconception that it always guarantees success. But the truth is, most companies that go through this process do not achieve expected outcomes.
According to a McKinsey survey of more than 1,700 C-suite execs, the average digital transformation stands a 45% likelihood of achieving less profit than anticipated. The likelihood of surpassing profit expectations on average was found to be just one in ten.
When you are considering DT for your company, you might have certain expectations of increasing revenue, greater ROI, or having an edge over your competitors. These things are certainly achievable, but digital transformation doesn’t work like magic. You might have to reconsider the expectations you have from the process, and instead focus on putting your best foot forward. Companies that do have successful transformations are found following some practices which you could look into, and plan accordingly. These best practices are backed with actual research by McKinsey, check out the summary in this blog if you’re interested.
Planning beforehand with regards to your company’s structure and processes and then going through the transformation following best practices and committing to it will increase the odds of success.
#4. Only a certain group is accountable for Digital Transformation
As we have established by now, digital transformation is not a single project, and it’s not just about technology. Rather, it is about the transformation of the company, its processes, and people over an extended period of time. This is why holding a certain person or a small group accountable for all digital transformation operations is not the way to go.
It is a common misconception that a Chief Digital Officer will be managing all DT tasks. Or, the IT department will handle it. And most companies reporting a successful digital transformation do have digital roles like CDO or Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) predefined. But all top-level employees must be involved in this process and work together to formulate strategies, set goals and describe processes.
And not only the top-level employees, all people of the organization need to have a certain role in formulating the transformation strategies. Most or all of the processes that employees follow in their daily operations will become digitized. Hence, the employees’ input and contributions are also equally important.
In Digital Transformation, the business and tech aspect must always go hand in hand. So, it’s not the responsibility of just the IT department of your company, neither can a CDO be accountable for all of it. A large portion of the company’s employees will need to give their time and effort in order to formulate a good plan and successfully implement it.
#5. We already have enough resources for a digital transformation
Here are some facts:
70% of companies either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are working on one.
But, 45% of executives don’t think their company has the right technology to implement a digital transformation.
Only 25% have mapped the customer journey (which is an essential part of the transformation) and only 42% are investing in digital channels.
Even if you think your current digital strategy will work, it is possible that you might need some external help. You might be big enough to have all the resources in place, including top-level decision-makers and strategists, technical experts, required technology, and the budget. But it might also be the case that you have just enough resources to keep the daily processes going.
This can mean that people are focusing on multiple things at once, or resources are being divided among several tasks. The result is employee burnout, and an ineffective attempt at DT that will not yield the desired results.
We know that any DT requires commitment and dedication and this goes almost in the opposite direction. A suggestion would be to do a thorough study of your company’s structure, people, and process. Here’s an article by McKinsey that suggests some questions to ask yourself before a digital transformation. This might help you understand your organization better. Or read a summary: A Detailed Summary of Digital Transformation from McKinsey.
An easier way to achieve your goals would be to outsource to a good, experienced digital transformation company.
At Leapfrog we implement agile thinking and methodologies in our process. We are a team of developers, thought leaders, and technologists that can take the lengthy, and quite frankly difficult task of digital transformation out of your hands. We’ve been trusted by startups and big corporations alike for the past ten years and we will do everything we can to help you with your big leap towards a digital future. Interested? Get started here!