Digital transformation is the process of modifying or creating new business by incorporating digital technologies. It is a top priority for large enterprises, especially if they expect to continue growing. But it’s a very risky undertaking. Although most large corporations have digital transformation near the top of their agenda, barriers remain. Without the knowledge and guidance to direct your steps through this transformation, your company could be among many that will have failing digital transformation projects.

Here are five important reasons why ineffective digital transformation processes can go wrong — and how to mitigate your risks.

  1. Poor planning, communication and alignment: Each company must identify its precise business goals. Consider beyond the transformation itself—figure out what exactly needs to be transformed, why, and how. Reassess all aspects of your company, including your process automation, your employees’ remote working environments, your website, and your marketing strategies. Decide which elements need to be transformed. This evaluation will help you track every step of the transformation process.
  2. Technology-led transformation: If there is too much reliance on technology, you’ll never be able to keep up with it. It takes time to train employees in new technologies, which is the fastest thing to change in the digital transformation. Employees feel as though they’re unable to stay ahead of all the new digital tools they’re receiving, and ultimately get “tools fatigue.” They tire of everything changing so often. And some companies choose to digitize their existing technology rather than consider redesigning processes that should be scrapped because they were inefficient. Digitizing a flawed process only makes matters worse. A successful digital transformation must be tailored specifically to the work your company does.
  3. The imperative to make the digital transformation: There is so much at stake to build digital capabilities that drive productivity, and the consequences in terms of investments of money, organizational effort, and time are massive. That’s why executives need to understand the complexities of digitally transforming their company in order to remain competitive, keep up with customer demands, and defend their position in the marketplace. With proper scenario planning and an informed evaluation of the fitness landscape, company leaders can accomplish an effective digital transformation and help the company remain sustainable in the marketplace as well as position it for massive growth opportunities.
  4. Believing one size fits all: Many college professors who were accustomed to lecturing in classrooms, believed they’d simply replicate the same methods when it became necessary to move to an online platform. They did not recognize the need to adapt their teaching methods to the virtual classroom. Similarly, in business, failing to assess specific ways in which circumstances have changed, and not acknowledging that the same tried-and-true method does not work in each scenario can precipitate a severe breakdown. Likewise, certain government agencies that completed a successful digital transformation were observed by other agencies and simply copied, only to find that those methods didn’t work for them. No two digital transformations are alike. Each entity must create its own strategies.
  5. Failing to understand the impact of company culture: Each company’s culture and mindset must be open to adapting new techniques and processes. A successful digital transformation calls for more than just updating technology or redesigning products. Failure to align with employees’ core values and behaviors will cause a negative impact to the organizational culture. A comprehensive, collaborative effort toward the transformation can help shift the culture to buy in to the change, as well as understand and embrace it. Without organizational buy-in, morale can sink and it can become difficult to recruit new talent—and the digital transformation will be unsuccessful.

Customer expectations and demand have increased dramatically, and without a carefully planned and strategic digital transformation, your company will not remain competitive. That’s why the University of Maryland’s Center for Project Management Excellence is offering a professional certificate to help project managers lead their company through a successful digital transformation. Learn the power of the fitness landscape, the characteristics of digital organizations, and how to prepare your organization for digital transformation in the first of four new edX courses that culminate in a professional certificate in transforming your company’s data analytics.

Author, certified training manager and project management expert Bill Brantley teaches all four courses in the Transforming Your Company’s Data Analytics: Championing the Digital Enterprise Professional Certificate. The certificate is comprised of the following four courses.

“Every industry has been somehow transformed, and the technology industry needs to have employees who are trained in this,” says Dr. Brantley. “Government agencies need to meet people where they are, because many are still working on their digital transformations.”

The first course in the certificate, Introduction to Transforming with Data Analytics and the Digital Organization, explores three topics, beginning with a discussing about building dynamic and operational capabilities.  Once competitors copy the dynamic capabilities, they’re no longer dynamic—they’re operational. The company must always be adapting and evolving. Companies will copy each other and move ahead together. In order to stay ahead, you always have to find a new way.

The second part focuses on your company’s fitness and the landscape of competition. Dr. Brantley refers to it as a “red ocean” and a “blue ocean.” If you’re in a red ocean, there’s lots of competition—you’re in the ocean with a lot of ‘sharks’ that are also fighting for a market share. So, how do you compete? You create a blue ocean, in which you build an entirely new market. If everyone is copying you, the only way you can compete is on price and value, and that’s very difficult to sustain. How do you move beyond the price or value dilemma? That’s where a successful digital transformation can help.

Finally, Dr. Brantley discusses foresight, leading into scenario planning.  As you go through the fitness/landscaping phase, foresighting is the process of deciding on your company’s ultimate destination, with the understanding that it’s never a straight line. Each company must determine what their competitors are doing, where it can build solutions, and consider how it can use your dynamic capabilities to get to its destination and work in the new marketplace.

Scenario planning is about weaving narratives comprised of informed future possibilities. It improves the organization’s readiness for change, its agility and its competitiveness, and it plays a significant role in the impact of the efficacy of a company’s digital transformation.

Dr. Brantley explains that those leading a digital transformation are constantly sensing and responding to their environment and predicting possible future scenarios, and based on the signals, they can begin planning and adapting, as well as learning to ask the right questions: Why are you doing things a certain way? How will it get you where you want to go? What do you need and what do you have in-house? How are you in relation to your competitors?

Learn more about the Introduction to Transforming with Data Analytics and the Digital Organization course plus the Transforming Your Company’s Data Analytics: Championing the Digital Enterprise Professional Certificate and ENROLL TODAY!