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More digital transformations fail than succeed. $900bn was wasted last year alone. Yet there are reliable ways to make sure you succeed. Despite what others may tell you, the solution isn’t an army of consultants or a pre-made solution they can pick off the shelf for you. It involves respecting your customers, your people and your technology. This starts with listening to them.

This year digital transformation became the top risk for executives, jumping from 10th in 2018 to 1st in 2019. This is no surprise given $1.3trn was spent on digital transformations last year, with 73% of executives reporting that they haven’t seen sustained returns on these investments.

Over the last few years, more and more of our clients have started to ask us to look at their digital transformation programs. Unfortunately, what begin as attempts to create revenue, cut costs or improve customer experience end with fatigued staff, disappointing solutions, and wasted investments. Some firms will say it’s time to move on, but we say there is hope!

Digital transformation initiatives fail for two reasons – technology or people don’t do what you want.

Digital transformation initiatives fail for two reasons – technology or people don’t do what you want.

  • Technology – Maybe you were told you could seamlessly stitch together multiple systems, automate an entire service, or use a solution on all contracts but the reality was very different. Whatever the pitch, the big day comes around and the functionality you release isn’t the magic bullet promised.
  • People – Maybe the technology is great. The experience is smooth and the journey is engaging but, in the end, no-one actually uses it – at least nowhere near the levels you planned. To put it bluntly. You built it. They didn’t come.

What’s the solution? Where is the ray of hope? Well, there’s lots to read out there on this and let me tell you, it makes for tiring reading. So, here’s our experience of what it really boils down to…

Respect your customers, your people and your technology. We believe each organization is unique and that the best solutions are tailor-made. You’ve got to get it right. You can’t afford to apply a cheap one-size-fits-all approach that’s picked off the shelf, winding up with the same poor results each time. So, save yourself some heartbreak and follow our lead…

Respect your customers, your people & your technology.

Start with empathy

Elicit feedback as early and as often as you can. Begin with your customer’s needs. Make sure you understand them, your people and your technology. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be a guessing game. Ask them: What do they want? Need? Depend on? How do they behave? How would they like to behave? What would encourage the shift? Let their responses guide you.

Prepare to adapt as you learn

Realize that changing behavior and mindset can be a tricky thing to do, but by no means is it impossible. To be successful, identify where and how you can influence and encourage the behavior you want to see. But, just know, you’ll need to adapt your plan as you continue to listen to your customers, people and technology.

Test early

The best innovators and entrepreneurs know when to stop investing time and effort into something that’s going nowhere. Testing with your customers is the quickest way to find out what has legs and what doesn’t. If it doesn’t have legs, kill it and move onto testing something that might. Using rapid prototyping and lean methods of customer testing will get you the answers you need without the headache of mass surveys and interviews.

Track and adapt

Select a lean set of KPIs that actually tell you what you need to know. Talk to your data teams early to identify the metrics you’ll need. Don’t assume rudimentary usage or adoption-related data will be easily accessible or even available. Find the metrics that will indicate if you are heading off track. Plot them over time to create your adoption curve. Listen to the data and adapt to any issues you run into as you go.

So, there you go. This is the closest thing to a magic bullet that you’ll find. Go for it and let us know how it goes! We’re here to help if you want it.