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How to avoid common pitfalls in digital transformation

digitisation For the majority of businesses, digitisation is a case of not if, but when. It’s no longer something that can be viewed as optional.

But if you want to feel the full benefit of digital transformation, you first need to understand the best way to approach it. Otherwise you risk throwing money at something without seeing a valuable return.

Here, we share three common mistakes and three best practice tips that help limit risk and increase chances of success when going through digital transition.

What does ‘digital transformation’ mean?

Before we go any further, it’s important to know what exactly we mean by digital transformation. This phrase has the habit of falling into buzzword territory, i.e. people using it without fully understanding the term.

Digital transformation means using digital approaches to do one of two things:

  1. Deliveringexistingprocesses more efficiently
  2. Delivering a completely newprocess, approach to market or business model

The word ‘transformation’ is also overused. If you call something a transformation, it should involve a fundamental change in the organisation. This might include a radical new operating model, or frequently in digital transformation, a completely re-engineered value chain.

Common mistakes

There are three mistakes we frequently see customers make when trying to undertake digital transformation:

  1. Trying to do too much at once

Digital transformation is all about agile delivery, which means creating just enough change to achieve your initial objective and then rapid iterations and improvements, based on your learning and your failures.

One of the biggest mistakes companies can make is trying to carry out the whole process in one go. They plan, and they design, and scrutinise every decision, until all of the risk is removed. By this time the enthusiasm for the original idea has waned and the competitive advantage has disappeared.  Instead, they should focus on doing just enough, and then apply that success to other parts of the business.

  1. Underestimating the people aspects

Digital transformation is only minimally about the technology. If you choose the right technology it will do what you need it to do. However you may still fail to achieve the business objectives you aspire to. This is because the vast majority of technology has users – either staff or customers – and people tend to be more unpredictable than technology. Companies ignore these users are their peril.

You need to help your people to change, so they get maximum benefit out of digital. You need to bring your people with you to deliver an enhanced organisation that is aligned with the transformed state you’re trying to achieve. Company culture is vital in driving digital transformation.

  1. Digitising old processes without making them efficient

Some companies try to digitise existing process without optimising them first, which is, quite frankly, a waste of money. Once you understand that digital transformation is about creating new operating models it becomes clear that you need to focus on the process to ensure that you are creating the most efficient company you can.

Before you digitise anything, first make sure it’s the right process in the first place and then ensure it’s as efficient as possible.

Best-practice tips

So to summarise, here are three things to bear in mind before undertaking digital transformation. Doing so will dramatically increase your chances of things going smoothly and enable you to get the most value from the process.

  1. Approach digital transformation in iterative stages – focus on one area of the business, get it right, learn from any mistakes, and then roll that successful process out across the rest of the organisation.
  2. Take all users with you – the same way a business is nothing without its staff, tools and processes are pointless without the people who use them. Ensure you properly communicate change with all affected stakeholders.
  3. Ensure you’re digitising the right processes – digital transformation is not a simple case of converting all existing tools and processes. Optimise your processes beforedigitising them, and ensure they’re the right processes in the first place.

These factors are embedded in the Fujitsu XpressWay framework.