How to prevent the biggest mistake companies make in digital transformation

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

In the post-pandemic world, radical disruption and reimagined, highly personalized customer experiences are table stakes. Against this backdrop, digital transformation strategy has become imperative to keep pace with rapidly evolving business demands, market dynamics, and customer expectations. While this is a massive change impacting all aspects of the organization and often a disruptive deviation from the legacy models of the past, it can fuel business efficiencies, greater agility, and transformative value — for your people, customers, and partners around the world.

This heightened appetite for digital-first transformation comes as no surprise. Business leaders who make digital transformation their first priority are excited to work side by side with clients to move the needle on their business—and bottom line—with digital capabilities that prepare them for what’s next.

And yet, therein lies the problem.

Digital transformation isn’t about industry providers for the simple reason that transformation doesn’t happen within our consultancy. It happens with our customers’ people and systems. And although we might have a lot to contribute, the customers should be given the latitude to explore their own pain points.

What is digital transformation?

It’s not just about technology. Digital transformation goes far beyond introducing new, emerging technologies into an organization. It involves the wholesale change in how an organization operates to become more efficient, adaptive, and human-centric. This includes changes in business processes, organizational structures, culture, and employee skill sets.

What is the process of digital transformation?

Organizations typically go through five steps when embarking on digital transformation:

  • Identification of opportunities
  • Planning
  • Implementation
  • Testing and refinement
  • Roll-out and stabilization

It’s important to note that while every business’s digital transformation journey involves the same five steps, many providers fail to factor in one crucial ingredient: their customers’ readiness for change.

When providers try to force change on their customers before they are ready, it invariably results in a loss of trust and customer loyalty. Customers will eventually revolt against being forced into a change that does not benefit them. In the worst-case scenario, businesses can even lose customers to their competitors.

What should businesses do instead?

Businesses should work with their customers to identify opportunities for change that will benefit them both. Bring customers on board early in the process, and their feedback taken into account during planning and implementation.

The goal should be to create a win-win situation where customers are delighted by reimagined experiences and businesses thrive.

Parker Lee

Parker Lee is the managing partner of Territory, a design consultancy, who has developed and led teams in transformation, design thinking, and business development for decades. Co-author of The Art of Opportunity, he has created and facilitated dozens of design and visual thinking engagements.

Share this post:

Explore more

Stay in the loop.