Digital transformation: 3 myths the pandemic busted

Don't let these common misconceptions slow your digital transformation initiative
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When the pandemic struck, most organizations had no choice but to accelerate their digital technology adoption. Many condensed into a matter of months what might otherwise have been years of consideration, strategizing, and change.

According to a survey by McKinsey, the pandemic sparked a seven-year increase in the rate at which companies developed digital or digitally enhanced offerings. It accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and internal operations by three to four years.

This shift sparked a new reality for today’s organizations to remain competitive and meet customers’ changing needs. But while enterprises have certainly dedicated more resources to the process of digital transformation, many misconceptions still remain.

[ Where is your team's digital transformation work stalling? Get the eBook: What's slowing down your Digital Transformation? 8 questions to ask. ]

Digital transformation myths, broken down

Here are three digital transformation myths the pandemic busted, and some thoughts on how enterprises can shift their thinking around the movement.

Myth #1: Moving too fast in your digital transformation journey is risky

One of the most common and persistent misconceptions surrounding digital transformation is that it is too risky. Many organizations took a slow-and-steady approach to carry out their digital transformation initiatives, being careful not to rock the boat or jump in too quickly. Then cutting-edge companies like Netflix and Tesla emerged and proved the importance of adopting digital trends, influencing many organizations to embrace new technologies and processes.

The pandemic served as yet another disruption and accelerant for digital transformation, highlighting that a cautious approach would no longer cut it. Tomorrow’s most successful organizations will be the ones that are willing to disrupt themselves faster than disruption meets them.

In markets where competitors continually strive to meet (or better yet, anticipate) the next innovation, the luxury of time isn’t available. Consider the automotive industry, for example – some of the dominant players now face tenacious startups such as Rivian. The electric vehicle and automotive technology company recently filed for an IPO and is seeking a valuation as high as $80 billion – and its trucks aren’t even on the road yet. The company could soon rival Tesla – because it saw a void in the market and braved risks to fill and disrupt it.

With innovations constantly emerging, enterprises can no longer ignore the impact these will have on business; no competitive advantage is safe for long. Rather than cautiously adopting new technologies or waiting to see how they’ll impact others first, enterprises must embrace change and move fast to remain competitive.

Myth #2: Digital transformation is a one-and-done process

Though few organizations were prepared for the ripple effect a global lockdown would have on business and the fundamental way they delivered products and services, most found a way forward. This sparked the realization that successful digital transformation is more than just a one-time update to an organization’s technology or an upgrade from a manual process to a digitized one – it requires an always-on effort, supported by training and aligned with employees’ evolving expectations.

With this realization, the ways in which organizations are planning and hiring have drastically changed. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the job outlook for software developers and software engineers will grow 22 percent by 2029, substantially faster than the four percent average for all careers. This indicates that organizations’ digital transformation journeys are not complete, and they plan to hire for where they are headed, keeping pace with future innovations.

Successful digital transformation requires an always-on effort, supported by training and aligned with employees’ evolving expectations.

Core to these future innovations and employment growth will be increased adoption of DevOps processes - using elements such as version control, continuous integration, automated testing, and  open source technologies - so companies can continually speed up deployments and foster better collaboration. In turn, these enterprises will be better prepared for the next change or disruption.

Myth #3: Digital transformation is impossible with a remote workforce

If the pandemic proved anything, it’s that people are capable of much more than many had ever imagined. With the sudden shift to remote work, teams were expected to overcome barriers to collaboration and work seamlessly to get customers what they needed at the same speed and efficiency as before.

In just a few months, they proved that digital transformation was achievable not only in a short timeframe but by a completely remote workforce. These remote employees embodied the very essence of digital maturity: integrating technology into all areas of the business to revolutionize operations and value delivered.

How did they do it? Business users, citizen developers, and combined business-IT teams, for example, were all able to collaborate through shared objectives, tools, and processes that supported the new digital transformation culture. Examples of these tools and processes include sophisticated project tracking, shared whiteboards, and digital asset management (DAM). By implementing technologies that allow for a single source of truth, IT and developer teams can ensure everyone across the organization is rowing in the same direction and avoid unexpected surprises.

Despite many uncertainties, now is the time to implement digital transformation. If there’s a silver lining in the crisis we all endured, it’s that many enterprises have a new understanding and appreciation for the digital transformation journey – knowing the processes they’ve implemented and the training they’ve invested in were long overdue and necessary to their future.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

rod-cope-perforce
Rod Cope is the CTO of Perforce Software. He provides technical vision and architectural leadership for the company’s globally distributed development teams. Based on his analysis of market events and trends, he also influences product direction and messaging. Rod came to Perforce from Rogue Wave Software, where he was CTO.

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