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3 Reasons Digital Transformations Fail — And How to Make Sure They Succeed

Digital transformation is vital for enterprises who want to thrive — or even survive — as the economy swiftly changes. But a study by the Everest group found that more than 73 percent of digital transformations “failed to provide any business value whatsoever,”according to Everest Group CEO Peter Bendor-Samuels.

Successful digital transformation requires engaging employees with innovative technology -- never technology alone.There are plenty of reasons the projects fail, but Bendor-Samuels says there are three primary ones. Here’s what they are, and his advice on how to overcome the problems.

Lack of Upfront Commitment

The first reason for failure, he says is that executives don’t make a complete commitment to truly transform their companies. Not uncommonly, he says, executives may finish the first step of the project, but then abandon it after that. He notes: “Understanding and agreeing to the concept and vision for your transformation is not the same as committing to do what it takes to succeed. Company leaders can have a great meeting and talk about the need for change. But if they don’t commit to the massive change – what is necessary to achieve the vision and strategic intent – the initiative will fail.”

It's tougher than you might think to make the necessary commitment. He recommends: “Leaders need to build a collective vision that is deeply felt and understood, even though the specifics of how to achieve it may not be known up front… Go slow at first. Building commitment takes time. If you start down the path of trying to enable the change before enough stakeholders understand where the project is going, why the change is necessary, and that the change is possible, you will run a very high risk of debilitating, passive-aggressive behavior.”


Related Reading:
$900 Billion Has Been Wasted On Digital Transformation Projects. Here’s How To Make Sure Yours Succeeds
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Forbes article notes that 70 percent of that money, a full $900 billion, goes towards projects that don’t reach their goals. Companies including GE, Ford and Procter & Gamble have launched digital transformation projects that ultimately failed, reports CNBC. Why are they failing?  They do not engage frontline employees.  Read the article.


Failing to Take an Iterative Sprint Approach

He warns that many companies think the best way to succeed is to build an extremely detailed business case and plan for the digital transformation, and then stick to that plan, no matter what happens. He warns: “This approach has a very high proportion of failures.” That’s because it doesn’t take into account that projects need to change over time in order to succeed. People also become weary when projects drag on without stop for two long.

His solution: “When planning the approach to the multiyear digital transformation journey, break the project into short-term projects and goals that can deliver measurable results aligned with the vision and strategic intent… Use an iterative, agile approach similar to the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach and principles of venture capitalists and software start-ups…You need to let the transformation journey unfold and evolve flexibly. Don’t build a detailed long-term plan without enough known factors.”

Taking a Technology-First Approach

Technology is only important when it transforms the way a company operates, but too many enterprises think that digital transformation is only about technology, not about the business. He warns, “Starting a digital transformation by big, expensive legacy-replacement activities is starting from the wrong place. It will use up too much money and people resources, and it will distract from delivering the transformation benefits.”

Instead, he says, “The better approach is to start with understanding how the business needs to change to deliver improved experiences to customers and employees and then focus on implementing technologies that will deliver a part of that value early on…Thereafter, take an iterative approach and move on to the next value-adding project.”

Choosing the Best Platform for Digital Transformation

Alpha TransForm (for non-developers) and Alpha Anywhere (for developers) are ideal tools for digital transformations. Alpha TransForm and Alpha Anywhere can work independently or together as a single platform and are well-suited for both IT, citizen developers and other staff.  Alpha TransForm helps business users craft online or offline mobile apps in minutes that utilize the latest mobile features (camera, GPS, etc.) for fast, accurate data capture. Alpha Anywhere has the unique ability to rapidly create mobile-optimized forms and field apps that can easily access and integrate with any database or web service and can exploit built-in role-based security or robust offline functionality. Learn more about Alpha TransForm and try it free for 30 days.

What’s the Best Tool To Engage End Users and Succeed at Digtial Transformation?

In a recent Forbes article, "Low-Code/No-Code? HPaPaaS? Here's What Everybody is Missing", Jason Bloomberg talks about digital transformation and the types of products that can deliver for companies by powering business-driven efforts He recognizes Alpha Software in the "code generation" category, which includes such benefits as: apps that run independently of the platform, have high performance and include offline capability.

alpha_transform_TMAlpha Software's Alpha Transform technology is helping enterprises speed digital transformation by engaging front-line workers. It offers tools that lets existing staff build business apps much more quickly and effectively and enables savvy business domain experts and IT departments to work together to digitize business processes and deliver tangible business impact. It also simultaneously enables IT to control data integration with systems of record, and data security compliance. Read more about Alpha TransForm or try it free for 30 days. 

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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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