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3 Reasons Your Digital Transformation Will Fail

While the long-term effects of the 2020 pandemic may take years to unfold, there are some trends that have already emerged. According to Forbes, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies to meet the increasing demand for remote communications and reliable data access. 

Across the world, organizations moved, or are moving, quickly towards digital transformation and reinvention in order to meet the requirements to stay competitive. However, a “quick-to-market” attitude can also position companies for failure, and in fact, a recent survey found that only one in five companies are considered very effective at managing their digital transformations.

To succeed, budgeting, prioritizing and evaluating your team capacity are some critical items to consider. 


Without proper planning, hidden costs can increase your digital transformation spending, and when those costs become too great to handle, it can cause your strategy to fail. To help stay on budget, get the buy-in from key stakeholders, and smooth the financial process of digital transformation.

  • Build the business case. Present the benefits of digital transformation with metrics and examples of real-world improvements.
  • Market the project's value. Don’t wait for the IT department to make project announcements. Be engaging in project announcements.
  • Measure success. Outline baseline metrics and track the changes on pre-established time intervals.

Remember to stay agile. Budget planning is always a best-guess effort, and you’ll likely need to make adjustments. Building agility into your known costs and staying in contact with your key stakeholders will help you anticipate additional costs and plan for them accordingly. 


When sorting through the digital transformation process, it’s easy to let your scope grow, and subsequently become overwhelming.  It’s important to outline your strategic priorities, and kill everything else in your backlog that doesn’t directly support your priorities so that you can stay on track and on budget. The best way to outline your priorities is to assign business value to the finished product and to evaluate the stress on the organization. By assigning numeric values to the answers and plotting the result, data clusters will form. For example: 

How valuable is the finished product to the company? How valuable to the consumer? How intricate is the project management? Is the project highly technical? Answer each of these questions with a value between one and ten.  One being low and ten being high.  Digital transformation graph

Graph the results, and assign the x-axis to project value and the y-axis to complexity. You will begin to see data clusters, which are organized into four project priority quadrants. 

  • Later! - low project value and low complexity.  Backlog this project, and launch when business is slow.
  • Yes! - high project value with low complexity. Start the project as soon as possible. 
  • Plan! - high project value with high complexity. This project will take time, and should be started quickly.
  • No! - low project value and high complexity. This project offers little to no value, and business efforts should be placed elsewhere.  

More than anything else, digital transformation requires a talented team. Although the best team does not guarantee success, the lack of it almost always guarantees failure. Before confirming your team, evaluate complexity, data, and company mindset.


How technical and communicative is your IT team?

The Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, data, artificial intelligence, and emerging technology systems are consistently evolving. While these systems are becoming easier to use, understanding how each technology contributes to transformational opportunity, adding the technology to the business’s needs, and putting it together with existing systems is complex.


Do you have data experts on your team?

Many companies know their stored data is not clean, and digital transformation requires quality records. It also requires a strong understanding of new types of unstructured data, experience with data manipulation, managing large quantities of data, and integrating everything while purging unused information.  


Is your team able to think out of the box?

Transformation requires an end-to-end mindset, a rethinking of ways to meet customer needs, seamless connection of work activities, and managing going forward. Objectively, does your team have what it takes?

Digital transformations can be a daunting process. Most organizations aren't staffed with the specialized talent they need to accelerate and manage their digital transformation efforts, leading to misalignment between functions, gaps in priorities, and delivery misses. It's imperative to build a team with the right skills and capabilities to oversee and manage the end-to-end processes involved.

Successful transformations require a core team of experts who understand the process, and can fill knowledge gaps to ensure a smooth evolution. If you prioritize, plan, and regularly monitor progress and outcomes, your organization may be able to avoid failure and create a successful path forward.