5 Common Barriers to Digital Transformation | Adobe Document Cloud

Emerging technologies, increasingly responsive customer experience, and mounting pressure to innovate are the driving force behind organizations’ need to undertake digital transformation over the next year. Most business owners and employers understand that digital transformation is necessary for continued growth, and a recent study of 573 top executives by Forbes Insight and Hitachi confirms this theory by showing 50% of these organizations have digital transformation as their top strategic priority for 2017. However, a recent Adobe study shows that while 81% of U.S. workers say that updated technology is important at work, only 26% of workers believe that their company’s current technology is ahead of the curve.

Do We Need a Strategy for Digital Transformation?

Knowing that digital transformation is necessary and prioritizing it as a top business strategy are the first steps to starting the overall process. But if it were as easy as understanding and prioritizing, organizations wouldn’t have any trouble implementing digital transformation with their customers and employees.

The Forbes study found that while many companies’ top priority is digital transformation, only 35% of cross-functional teams are implementing steps to digital transformation. This trend is reiterated by the Adobe finding that only one in four workers believes their company has updated technology. Companies know they need to do this, but they aren’t. In the end, it comes down to the fact that digital transformation is not just about technology, it’s about transforming how we work and how we think about technology. So how do we change the way we think? Looking at the common barriers to digital transformation is a good place to start. After all, if the barriers don’t have a name or are not recognized, then organizations can’t possibly hope to overcome them.

Five Common Barriers to Digital Transformation for Organizations

1. Resource investment. From a financial standpoint alone, it’s best practice for a company to spend 1% of their revenue on digital transformation each year. Digital spending can seem daunting for any business owner or C-level executive, from new software to cloud services and everything in between. When you add in the cost of human resources necessary for implementing the new or upgraded technology, it can begin to feel overwhelming. In many cases, the sticker shock is too much for executives, and they put off digital transformation for yet another year, even though 85% of U.S. workers say technology makes them more productive.

2. Too much data. In the age of ‘big data,’ everyone wants to be a leader in using analytics to drive business decisions. However, when it comes to execution, few organizations are getting it right when it comes to using data. There’s simply too much data and no real way for them to distill it. The Forbes and Hitachi study found that while only 44% of companies saw themselves as leaders in using data and analytics, 91% had already seen increased revenues due to the smart use of data and analytics. So the question is, with such obvious financial gains to be made, how can we get everyone aboard the data train?

3. Document security. Security is a hot-button topic for many organizations. Not only are they concerned about keeping their own data safe, but their customers’ data as well. If everything is being transmitted and stored digitally, it’s important that companies address how they will tackle security. A recent Dell Digital Transformation survey found that only 18% of companies who said they were in the middle of digital transformation were including their security teams in the transition, yet 85% of IT professionals said that including the security teams from the get-go would dramatically increase the quality of security they provide. Clearly, a security gap exists when it comes to what organizations know they need and what they do when it comes time to execute.

4. Document preservation and longevity. With documents living solely in a digital world, how do we maintain their integrity and longevity? Many thought leaders are beginning to address this question and it’s one that executives and customers alike have a big stake in. Preserving and storing documents is an essential part of digital transformation, but it’s not something companies are paying close attention to. The continued enhancement of the current final document standard, PDF, helps ensure both preservation and longevity. The question lies in how organizations iterate on these document standards moving forward.

5. Uniting people and technology. This is perhaps the largest barrier that organizations must overcome to be successful in their digital transformation. Companies must ensure that they are fostering innovation and making people more effective (not just efficient) without alienating them in the process. The Dell and Hitachi study showed that 29% of companies saw the human aspect of digital transformation as the biggest hurdle, while 56% thought it was the key to having a successful transition. The biggest barrier, yet the biggest marker of success. Uniting people seamlessly with the technology they use is a critical part of digital transformation that should be at the forefront of executive’s minds as they undertake the process.

Overcoming Barriers to Digital Transformation

Identifying the barriers is the first step to overcoming them in your organization’s quest to digitally transform how you work, both in the office and with your customers. Throughout this series, I’ll deep dive into each of these barriers to help you understand why the barrier exists and what you can do to help your organization bust through it on their way to innovation and improvement.


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