Digital Transformation Is Not About Technology

A recent survey of directors, CEOs, and senior executives found that digital transformation (DT) risk is their #1 concern in 2019. Yet 70% of all DT initiatives don’t reach their goals. Of the $1.3 trillion that was spent on DT last year, it had been estimated that $900 billion visited waste. Why do some DT efforts succeed et al. fail?

Fundamentally, it’s because most digital technologies provide possibilities for efficiency gains and customer intimacy. But if people lack the proper mindset to vary and therefore the current organizational practices are flawed, DT will simply magnify those flaws. Five key lessons have helped us lead our organizations through digital transformations that succeeded.

Lesson 1: Figure out your business strategy before you invest in anything. 

Lesson 2: Leverage insiders.

Lesson 3: Design customer experience from the outside in.

Lesson 4: Recognize employees’ fear of being replaced.

Lesson 5: Bring the start-up culture inside.

Digital transformation worked for many organizations because their leaders went back to the fundamentals: they focused on changing the mindset of its members as well as the organizational culture and processes before they decide what digital tools to use and how to use them. What the members envision to be the future of the organization drove the technology, not the other way around.