Numerous reasons why Digital Transformation fails

Most organsiations have by now realised digital transformation is essential to their success. But many of them forget that the main focus of a digital transformation is not just digitization or even technology, it is the Customer!

Digital Transformation is not an easy or small endeavor for any business. Several cogs will need to turn in unison just to ensure resources are aligned and budgets are not being wasted.

Many a time I have seen that the top boss is not digitally savvy. In such cases without top leadership, they are unlikely to have real impact on their road to digital.

Another reason is that many companies focus on siloed, just few digital projects instead of overall business model transformation. Such independent, tactical initiatives are costly and create bad publicity inside and outside the organization.

I once had the worst experience with a (one of the) largest telecom company.  While acquiring customers went out the way to give everything free and promise everything digital. But their customer service was awful.   I just wanted to disconnect my internet dongle and it was not possible online. I had to call customer service 5-6 times, every time I was kept on hold and told they were checking their system status.  At one time, when I got frustrated I asked why it was so painful just to disconnect, the rep told me Sir your call has only taken 39 seconds and we are trained to hold the customer on the line for more than a minute!!! See how they earn additional money at the customer’s cost.

Finally they told me go and sort it out in one of their stores. Again no digital there – I had to fill out a hard copy form, provide all my id proof again, and I was told it would take 10 more days to just disconnect the service, so I had to pay for those 10 days.  What is worse is, I again got a bill after 1 month stating that I had not paid the latest bill (I had). 

From the telecom’s perspective, they think they have done everything right for digital transformation:

  1. They have provided online access to manage account; 
  2. They have a sleek mobile app
  3. They have provided access to a 24×7 customer support line
  4. Their web site UX and design gives a good online experience
  5. They provide email updates letting customers know the status of their requests.


But if they had walked in their customer’s shoes, to identify instances where things could do wrong and address them quickly, it would have been more successful.

If with everything in place, at the end the customer experience is bad, it is STILL a failure.

Lack of clear vision – Often, companies that are not succeeding simply haven’t painted a clear picture of what they want or need to be, when they digitally “grow up”.

Poor internal communication with employees is another critical reason to fail. All the customer touch points don’t communicate with each other to have single version of customer truth.
A comprehensive use of Big Data Analytics is essential to have all the details of customers at the service rep’s fingertips.

Amazon, Netflix and Uber digital success stories have the effective gathering, storing and leveraging of customer data at the core.

Forrester has cited example of digital transformation failure at the BBC for weak project management, reporting and lack of focus on business change!


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