How to avoid digital transformation failure

The impact of disruptive digital technology on opportunities, potential new markets, business growth, and revenue cannot be understated.

McKinsey’s research shows that companies that fail to embrace digital transformation activities or digital technologies suffer major losses:

"Digitization can significantly hurt incumbent firms in many industries — depleting as much as half the revenue growth and one-third of earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) growth of companies that neglect to embrace digital innovations." - The Case for Digital Reinvention

Now that we have established that digital transformation is essential for business looking to thrive in a digital world... what exactly do we mean by that?

Digital transformation is the process of optimizing your business operations, products, services, processes and communication in an ongoing customer-centric manner.

Sounds simple enough.

So why are there many examples of digital transformation failures?


No sense of direction


"Why the hell are we doing this?" 

If you cannot answer this question; odds are your digital transformation project will fail.

Understand why your business must embrace digital transformation: Creating a digital experience for your customer.

Penetration rate and disruption levels of digital technology in industries are determined by the customers' readiness and expectations.


Digital penetration in industries


Customers or end-users prefer to engage with businesses that offer them a personalized user experience.

The end goal is to transform your business into a completely customer-centric organization and optimize your operations, processes to those standards needed to deliver an effective digital experience.

To achieve that you must:

  • Understand your customers’ needs.
  • Assess the current and potential impact of digital tech on your market and relevant industries
  • Define your motivation and goals behind the user experience you want to develop for your business.


REMEMBER: An effective digital transformation strategy is one that clearly states how the digital technologies you adopt will enable you to craft a sustainable digital experience for your end-users and customers.


Panic mode decisions

Change is constant and every business had to adapt in order to grow. But the stakes now are higher than ever.

Embracing change has never been more imperative for businesses that aim to survive in the digital world.

Yes, survive.

The graph below perfectly illustrates the point:


Blockbuster Netflix Market Share

(Source: eCommerce Insights)


The digital world knows no industry titans; CEOs are under pressure as they fret over becoming their industry’s Blockbuster.

More disruption means newer technologies and more competition.

Whether it’s dealing with digital natives innovating in your industry or your current competition who have embraced digital tech and become reinventors in their own right… the pressure of being left behind is real.

Businesses that rely on traditional business models realize that they will not survive unless they change.

The aggressive speed at which disruptive innovation has taken place in each industry has turned the marketplace into a complex puzzle to decipher for traditional businesses who are unsure how to advance next.

They know they must change and adapt, but what form of change and how much is a whole another challenge.

This challenge piled upon the threat of being left behind has led many businesses to adopt some form of digital transformation while in panic mode.

Rushed decisions based on fear or bedazzlement with the potential opportunities that digital transformation can afford a business led to misguided efforts that ended up being expensive errors in judgment.

Don’t invest in digital technologies that you don’t need. Don’t dump your business model or operations if you don’t need to.

This is no time for panic. Be deliberate, strategic and bold.

Disruptive innovation can lead to more competition, threats, and risks in the market; but it also offers an abundance of opportunities as well.

REMEMBER: There is no digital transformation like the other. Each enterprise transformation is unique to that enterprise.


  • Listen to your customers and forecast behavior trends that can impact your business. Use digital technology to digitize your core business operations and processes accordingly.
  • Transform your core business into a more personalized digital experience for your end-users or customers who will benefit from a service that can only get better as time goes by.
  • Watch your competition closely. Innovation is not exclusive to that small digital native startup in your industry. Your competition can innovate too.


IMPORTANT: Calibrate digital transformation according to business needs, place in markets and competition.


Fortune favors the bold… and prepared

Many traditional businesses that digitally succeeded have adopted a two-pronged offensive digital transformation strategy:

  • Digitize core business capabilities
  • Explore new market opportunities via digital innovation

On one hand; enterprises have adopted digital transformation efforts to optimize the performance and efficiency of relevant core business operations and processes.

This digitization of core business capabilities can be:

  • To reach a wider audience via available or new digital channels and platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or better yet your own bespoke social platform.
  • To enhance marketing via effective, targeted and personalized communication based on big data analysis.
  • To develop new or improve upon current products and services to enhance their customers' digital experience.


REMEMBER: Customers expect your business to become personalized and flexible to their needs and priorities.

On the other hand; traditional businesses or ‘digital reinventors’ are forging new competition grounds in the marketplace by investing in new opportunities afforded by the digital technologies available to them.

Amazon is an example of how a business evolved their business model and expanded into new territory with their adoption of AI tech and development of Alexa; a product that enhances their customers' shopping experience.

Successful businesses are those who don’t fret about survival, rather those who see opportunities for growth when others only see risks and threats.


Lack of clarity and communication

Understanding what your customer wants enables you to develop a clear digital transformation strategy for your enterprise.

As a CEO, you must:

  • Communicate to each department in your enterprise their role and value in the ongoing digital transformation process.
  • Show commitment to the digital transformation; invest in the required resources.

Enterprises that have enjoyed digital transformation success have ensured that all relevant departments across their organization are made aware of how each of their roles impacts the growth of the business.

Communicating the vision and committing to realizing it by investing in the right set of skills, resources, and technology needed will eliminate resistance to change in your organizational culture towards adopting digital technologies.

Rather, it will create a cohesive team with a sense of ownership in the future of your enterprise.

Your organization’s operations, processes and relevant activities must be continuously monitored and optimized to ensure that you are flexible enough to always sustain an effective user experience for your customers.

Such coordination will require effective and clear communication to ensure success.

There is no room for half-measures if you are serious about digital transformation.

Which brings us to…


The IT factor

Your IT department is no longer the basement room that you call for tech support.

Crafting an enterprise digital experience is an ongoing process. This requires a support system with the relevant set of skills combined with the needed IT infrastructure.

In an increasingly digital world; your IT department must become your strategic partner.

The foundation and backbone of your long-term business plan rely on having an IT department populated with the required set of skills and resources.

More often than not; organizations and businesses that succeeded in digitizing their core business capabilities, where the first to invest heavily in the relevant digital technology required at each level of their operations.

However, making a leap into technology without mastering knowledge of more fundamental basics of how they impact your bottom line and enable your growth is wrong.

First, you must identify the right human resources and skills needed to maintain your required IT infrastructure.

If there was an expert on AI out there; Jeff Bezos made sure to have met him/her.

Jeff Bezos’ was absolutely convinced that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be a major disrupting technology in the retail sector and made a commitment to investing heavily into innovating every level of Amazon’s core business.

They tailored the AI deployed for each process and department at Amazon. The end result was an eCommerce digital experience like no other.

Amazon knew how and what to improve in order to sustain a customer-centric digital experience.

Their proactive approach in investing in the right human and tech resources needed ensured that the future of retail is firmly theirs.


Are you ready for the next wave?

Stop worrying about surviving the next wave of disruption… successful businesses are those who know how to ride the wave.

Your future growth is dependent on your digital transformation efforts.

How you go on about it is no straightforward answer. But there is a roadmap towards identifying how you must craft your own digital experience:

  • Know why you should digitize; learn about your customers’ needs.
  • Accordingly; determine how much of your core business needs to be enhanced.
  • Invest in technology that allows your digital experience to thrive in a sustainable manner.
  • Analyze the market for new opportunities that can be created.
  • Commit to the change.
  • Repeat.


Our team can assess your digital transformation needs, align them with your business growth plan and better yet identify strategic growth opportunities in your market.

Our digital transformation experts can assist you in:

  • Identifying a personalized digital transformation roadmap
  • Developing the right digital transformation strategy
  • Build and sustain your digital experience


If you are ready to explore your enterprise's digital potential; let us know!



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