Barriers to Digital Transformation Success

With the rise in data and the challenges facing organisations as a result of the current social distancing and lockdown measures, developing an effective Digital Transformation Strategy has become more important than ever.

Yet, even though there is such great impetus on agility to support future growth and sustainability, many organisations are still faced with internal barriers to digital transformation. Celaton’s Commercial Director, Gina Gray, discussed some of the most common barriers and how they can be overcome.

What is the biggest digital transformation barrier business leaders face?

The biggest digital transformation challenge face by business leaders is failing to obtain buy-in to initiatives throughout the wider organisation. Often this is due to selecting the wrong, and too broad a business case in the first instance and applying ‘technology for technology’s sake, which can lead to a misalignment of expectations and in some cases poor ROI. It is good for organisations to be ambitious, but when deploying any new technology, it is important not to ‘eat the elephant whole’, so identifying one viable use case as a starting point is essential. In addition, organisations need to truly understand their objectives and the technologies available in the market to achieve their goals. In doing so, businesses will be able to demonstrate success and overcome some of the wider organisational barriers to digital transformation.

Are skills shortages hindering digital transformation?

This is entirely dependent on the technology being implemented and approach of the organisation. Digital transformation projects are often the responsibility of IT departments, who are under increasing pressure to deliver to tight deadlines and within decreasing budgets. In this scenario, digital transformation projects are often delayed in favour of more pressing functional tasks.

Where organisations have invested in more technical roles such as Data Scientists and Analytics Translators, some of the skills barriers to digital transformation can be overcome. These roles form a vital part of transformation projects because they act as the bridge between Business Leaders and IT teams, as they have the unique skills to translate the data into actionable insights. This enables leaders to focus on strategic decisions, delivering far greater efficiencies and leading to much more successful projects.

What Celaton would like to see is that as organisations deploy this approach, Higher Education establishments will start to develop courses to address the changing needs in businesses, resulting in more talent and a broader set of digital skills in the future.

Do ingrained employee habits hinder digital transformation efforts?

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of negative press regarding digital transformation and more specifically automation technologies. This has resulted in mistrust and resistance to digital transformation projects because of the hype and fear of job losses. Communication is the key to mitigating these fears. In the use case analysis stage, Operational Teams need to be involved with the diagnostics to help demonstrate daily routines and highlight pain points; identifying areas that if improved would significantly benefit and enhance current roles. In addition, clarity needs to be provided around the responsibilities of teams once the technology is implemented.

What leadership skills are essential to a successful digital transformation strategy?

To ensure digital transformation projects are a success, leaders must understand the needs and requirements of their teams alongside the business objectives. Through understanding this, you can better understand the impact technology might have on daily roles and instigate strategies to minimise disruption and resistance. Through communicating planned changes and listening to feedback, leaders can create an environment that not only embraces change but also a culture of continual improvement and innovation. As such leaders need to possess attributes which help to nurture and develop employees from both a professional and personal perspective. To enable this, a mentoring approach to leadership is required, and it is essential that a leader is patient, compassionate and empathetic.

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