Digital transformation reality check

Digital transformation reality check

No-one said digital transformation was going to be easy but it seems many organisations are a long way off even beginning to realise the benefits of their initiatives.

According to a new report from self-service integration specialist, SnapLogic, two-fifths of organisations are behind schedule with their plans or are yet to start them. More than two-thirds (69 per cent) have had to re-evaluate their digital transformation strategy and, as a result of this, three-fifths (59 per cent) said they would do things differently if they had an opportunity.

The market research company, Vanson Bourne, carried out the survey on 500 IT decision-makers, representing medium- and large businesses with more than 500 employees across the UK and US. Three fifths (58 per cent) admitted that there is a degree of confusion within the organisation around what they are trying to achieve.

This all makes for worrying reading and even more alarming are some of the common roadblocks identified: internal politics (34 per cent); lack of centralised ownership (22 per cent); and a lack of senior management buy-in (17 per cent). More than half (55 per cent) noted that a reliance on legacy technologies and/or a lack of the right technologies within their organisation was holding them back, while one third were stalled by a lack of the right skilled talent, and 31 per cent reported that data silos were causing problems.

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Additionally, one-fifth of organisations didn’t test or pilot their digital transformation projects before deploying them company-wide, while 21 per cent of IT decision-makers continued to roll out company-wide digital transformation despite unsuccessful pilot programmes in one part of the business.

Gaurav Dhillon, CEO at SnapLogic, described the research as a stark wake-up call to the technology industry that they must do a better job advising, partnering with, and supporting customers in their digital transformation journey “if we are to ever see the reality of a digital-first economy”.

It is not only the technology industry that should be shouldering the responsibility for these failures though and senior leadership should not escape blame. Given the scale and pace of the change, it perhaps isn’t entirely unexpected that internal politics and lack of project ownership are issues but there shouldn’t be a senior leadership team in the land that doesn’t have buy-in to their digital transformation strategy. Indeed, they should be championing and leading such programmes.

No leader should be allowing failed pilots to run out in other parts of the organisation. Aside from the costs this could incur, it risks alienating and demotivating employees. We can only assume that too many leaders are distancing themselves from digital transformation projects and outsourcing responsibility to those below them. This simply isn’t good enough and programmes will continue to fall short of expectations if this situation prevails.

Digital transformation represents a massive opportunity for organisations to be more efficient, more productive, to break into new markets, win new customers and develop new products and services. It also gives leaders an opportunity to shape a brave new business world and make their mark in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. None of the above will happen though unless leaders grasp this opportunity with both hands and get stuck in.

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