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People are the key element to avoid digital transformation failure

Ultimately, it's your staff who will be deploying and using your new digital technologies, so it’s essential you don’t forget about them when planning and implementing a digital transformation project. Of course, there’s more to digital transformation than the new technology. Without putting people at the heart of your digital transformation, you'll be setting a business up to fail if technology is all you focus on.

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IT Team planning digital transformation with sticky notes

Avoiding the mistakes that lead to digital transformation failure

There’s several mistakes you can make if you’ve forgotten about the people involved in your digital transformation, and these mistakes are what led to $900 billion of digital transformation to fail in 2018.

Digital Transformation is the process of deploying digital technologies to improve the way a business operates, from improving customer experience to streamlining the supply chain.

Keep an eye on the process, and don’t let these issues trip you up:

1. Leaving people behind

A successful digital transformation will revolutionise the way a business is run and affect everyone, so if groups of people are left out of the planning you’re going to struggle to deliver on that transformation for them.

Make sure you include everyone and their needs into your digital transformation planning. This includes everyone who works in your business as well as customers. Don’t get tunnel vision based on any one group. After all, a new access portal won’t improve customer experience if your customer support team are struggling with an out-of-date system.

2. Digital transformation for digital transformation’s sake

New technologies should be selected for how they will support your business, not just because of how new and flashy they are. If your selection criteria for your digital transformation entirely revolves around how recently it was created and how impressive it will look in your PR announcement, your transformation will fail.

Your new digital technologies should make people’s lives easier, and if an out-of-the-box solution is the best fit for you, don’t shy away from it just because a lot of other businesses are using the same thing. Your digital transformation will be a success if you deploy new technologies that have been chosen for how they can support the people in your business.

3. Losing track of the project

While your CRM will track customers and sales, it’s not as straightforward to track digital transformation progress, but it’s just as important. If you lose track of your project, you risk miscommunications, wasted time and money, and the whole project collapsing when too much of it goes wrong.

Since digital transformation is a large-scale project that affects your whole business, it is difficult to accurately track milestones and resources spent on it. But it will help to appoint a project lead who is ultimately responsible, and they will be able to provide you an overview at any given time. You also need to make sure they’re given the support they need and can’t expect them to take on this responsibility alongside their usual workload.

Ensuring digital transformation success

Avoiding the above issues is essential for a successful digital transformation plan. Each of these issues involves losing sight of your ultimate goals in some way, but if you make sure the people in your business benefit from your digital transformation, it will be a success.

Follow the below advice to deliver a digital transformation strategy that supports your company into the future: 

1. Put people first

Your digital transformation plan should only come after you’ve got a business plan to guide it. Your end-goals shouldn’t focus on the technologies themselves, but more on what they provide to your business. Consider aims along the lines of:

  • Improving customer experience
  • Streamlining processes to free up time for staff
  • Equipping staff with new data gathering and analytical tools
  • Reducing latency and downtime to remove frustration

You should gather feedback from customers and staff on what they want from your digital transformation and then deploy technologies to deliver on those requests.

True Story: I was once part of a team being shown a new portal that we hadn’t been properly consulted about. When we asked “How do we raise purchase orders?” we were told “this is outside of the new portal’s remit”!

2. Equip your teams with everything they need

To ensure your digital transformation is a success you need to ensure that you’ve equipped your staff with everything they need. This has two parts to it:

  • Giving IT teams the right resources
  • Providing training for technical and non-technical teams for the new systems

Talk to your technical teams throughout the digital transformation process to make sure they’re confident they have the expertise and resources to deliver on the people-focussed goals I mentioned earlier in this article.

But, even the best IT system in the world is useless without anyone who knows how to use it. Set time aside and appoint people to be responsible for training to ensure that your entire business is familiar with the new systems, how to use them and what their new capabilities are.

3. Consider Outsourcing

If you need some additional expertise or labour resources this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to hire new staff members. Your digital transformation can be supported by an MSP or a data centre who have the expertise and resources to help you deliver on your digital transformation goals.

They can also assist with training and deliver long-term support for your new system, even as your in-house IT team changes over time.

If you’re interested in working with a people-focussed data centre who regularly help companies with their digital transformation then get in touch.

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