Digital transformation: 4 common beliefs to reconsider

The pandemic changed many things, including some long-held beliefs about digital transformation. If you're refining your strategy, consider revisiting these assumptions
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If you weren’t familiar with digital transformation before the pandemic, you certainly are now. When employees, executives, and customers across every industry and vertical were forced inside, organizations around the world adjusted rapidly to accommodate the limitations of a digital environment. Though physically more disconnected than ever, digital connections exploded as we all found new ways to reach clients, collaborate with coworkers, and do virtually everything else from home.

The idea of top-down organizational change isn’t new, however. It’s been around for decades as a natural response to changes in technology and culture. Though business leaders across the globe have tried – and sometimes failed – to implement company-wide change, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to transformation.

Here are four long-held beliefs about digital transformation that could hinder your change strategy.

1. Digital transformation is always taxing on your teams

Arguably the most challenging part of digital transformation is mitigating the effects of change within your teams. Fatigue, frustration, and apathy can erode productivity, create friction between leaders and their teams, and lead to higher turnover. But change doesn’t have to be frustrating. Well-managed change programs can lead to happier, more productive employees.

[ Culture change is the hardest part of digital transformation. Get the digital transformation eBook: Teaching an elephant to dance. ]

In order to maintain happy and healthy teams, let your transformation effort be driven by transparency. Check in frequently and seek to understand your employees’ pain points. Use one-on-one conversations with employees at all levels to actually understand how to alleviate stress, not just for the sake of checking a box.

2. Transformation should be driven by outside expertise

If you are an executive without a deep understanding of how to execute a digital transformation initiative, your instinct may be to turn to an outside expert or consultancy service. Before you do so, consider that an outside-in strategy may not be what your organization needs.

The best digital transformation campaigns are ones that directly address the needs of your customers and employees. Implement surveys and questionnaires into your transformation planning stage and let the results guide your efforts. Organizations that stay close to their customers and whose goals are motivated by their needs are more likely to find success in digital transformation.

The best digital transformation campaigns are ones that directly address the needs of your customers and employees.

3. The newest technology is best

Between the cloud, AI/ML, IoT, and augmented reality, there is no shortage of technologies that can further your digital transformation initiatives. You may be tempted to work the latest and greatest technologies into your change plan, but first, spend time considering which are right for your specific business needs.

AI automation may sound great to teams that are deep in tedious information processing work, but if your organization doesn’t yet have a cloud storage solution, you may want to consider that first. Be cautious not to allocate resources to technology your business isn’t ready for. You risk causing more tension and wasting time and energy on solutions that are not designed to optimize your work.

4. It’s important to wait until you are ready to start your transformation journey

If you are waiting for the perfect moment to start your digital transformation, you’ll wait forever. The great resignation and continued health and safety concerns have left the workforce in flux as we round out 2021. By waiting for the dust to settle, you may miss the opportunity to capitalize on a change that your company desperately needs to succeed.

A customer-focused digital transformation strategy that is driven by transparency and keeps employee satisfaction in mind is designed to succeed at any time – no matter the external conditions. Resist the urge to fall into old ways of thinking and dedicate time with your executive team to craft a strategy expertly designed to meet your needs.

[ Want more advice? Watch the on-demand webinar, The future of leading digital innovation: What's next, with Nancy Giordano, plus Red Hat's Margaret Dawson and IDC's Nancy Gohring. ]

Rajan Sethuraman is CEO of LatentView Analytics. His vision for the company is to maximize the value of AI and success for clients with a human understanding of their business needs, guided by expertise in CPG, financial services, technology, healthcare, retail and other core sectors.

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