Why Digital Transformation is not working and my two cents on how to make it work!

HBR recently carried a provocative article ‘Why So Many High Profile Digital Transformations Fail’ talking about the digital transformation initiatives at GE, Lego, P&G, Nike, & Ford and why  (in their opinion ) the initiatives didn’t work.  The reasons they outlined:

  1. Digital Transformation shouldn’t be the last straw of a disrupted firm/industry – extraneous factors like economy, product life-cycle affects all change initiatives. If you are talking about an industry that is facing headwinds or a company that has made strategic & operational missteps  – a digital transformation exercise is nothing more than the last straws of a drowning man.
  2. Digital Transformation is messy, not plug & play – You have to mix & manage business models, people, process, system & culture. A very heady cocktail indeed! You need rigorous change-mgmt to make it work. Often the initiatives are led / sponsored by functions – say only by the IT department, or only by the manufacturing departments. Transformation initiatives need to have the right level of engagement & sponsorship.
  3. Give them a faster horse-carriage not a car – This might shock all ‘innovation as competitive advantage’ fans but if you innovate ahead of customer wants – you deliver duds!

At LeadStrategus we’ve been involved in a few Digital Transformation initiatives in Strategy & Sales+Marketing in mid-sized Indian firms. Our principles:

  • Go slow to arrive fast – Our project duration is > 1 yr. We transform one process at a time before moving to next & hold changed processes to the new standard.
  • Go Open source over tech-suite  but look at track-record of the technology/ software solution over brand-name.
  • Culture>>Business model>>Process>>Systems in priority. Most companies reverse that. Design systems around processes & process around business model.

Link to original HBR article – Why So Many High Profile Digital Transformations Fail


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