How to overcome the barriers to digital transformation

When discussing digital transformation, it’s all too easy for marketers and IT departments to get hung up on Twitter feeds and corporate Facebook pages. But there is far more to a digital strategy than just social media – the process of digital transformation is impacting all levels of the customer journey across every sector of the information landscape.

For those CIOs who are willing to embrace this change, digital transformation can provide the opportunity to rethink how they use technology at the most fundamental level. This can help businesses to improve their service offerings while also building a more meaningful relationship with the new generation of customers.

For some business leaders, however, the idea of transforming their organisation remains a deeply worrying thought. Instead of adapting, these organisations would prefer to bury their heads in the sand and hope that digital will pass them by without disruption.

>See also: Why most digital transformation programmes are doomed from the start

It is this wait-and-see mentality that businesses cannot afford to maintain. If an organisation is not equipped with the technology necessary to meet its customers’ needs, sooner or later those customers will go elsewhere.

Rather than waiting idly by for this to happen, business leaders need to be preparing a pre-emptive strategy for digital transformation. This strategy should not only look to reactively defend the business against digital disruption, but should also help to identify market opportunities generated by the new environment.

But before businesses can begin to look at developing such a programme, they must first overcome their own internal barriers to change. While the specific nature of these barriers may alter from company to company, there are a number of common issues that continue to emerge when discussing digital transformation.

A study by infoMentum identified what issues were holding businesses back from embracing the digital age. These were the top five most commonly identified barriers to digital transformation and how businesses can look to overcome them.

1. Rigid corporate cultures

Finding your niche in the digital environment is not something that happens over night. Any digital transformation will involve a fair few attempts and even more failures.

As a result, unless businesses provide a culture in which their employees can explore (and sometimes fail) without fear of reprimand, they will be unlikely to survive in the digital age.

To support this kind of culture, business leaders should encourage a digital-first mindset throughout their entire organisations, trickling down across every department. Once this open culture is in place, they should then step back and let the ideas develop organically from within.

2. The increasing pace of change

As the rate of updates and technological innovations increases, businesses are finding it harder than ever before to keep up with customers’ evolving needs. For many such businesses, the security of ‘sticking to what we know’ seems far more comforting than trying to keep up with the latest technological advancements – this can be a significant barrier to digital transformation.

At the same time, however, businesses should not be using technology purely for technology’s sake. Instead, use those technologies that can genuinely improve customer experiences and provide a unique selling point for their brand.

3. A lack of expertise

As the digital landscape evolves and new technologies emerge, it becomes increasingly difficult for businesses to develop and maintain expertise. While many organisations provide digital training for their staff, the rate of technological change can quickly render this training obsolete. This can prove a significant barrier to digital transformation, as often employees will require a level of continuous training that few organisations can afford.

To address this issue, businesses should try not to get hooked up on individual technologies, focusing instead on ensuring that all employees have a strong knowledge of the company’s goals and broader digital strategy.

4. Cost of innovation

While the myth of digital media as a ‘free’ marketing channel continues to prevail, the truth is that digital transformation does not come without its costs. To distinguish themselves within the increasingly crowded online space, businesses have to invest in providing high quality and original customer experiences. As a result, those that do not invest in innovation will quickly fall behind.

>See also: Digital transformation: are you living and breathing next practice or best practice?

5. Red tape and regulation

While the digital landscape can change overnight, alterations in corporate regulation and company procedures are rarely as swift. This is especially true within the defence, financial and government sectors, where hefty regulation and data protection laws make it difficult to implement significant technological changes.

This needs to be overcome if these businesses are to survive in the digital age. Regardless of regulation, digital disruption will not wait for lawmakers and corporate policy providers to give their seal of approval. As long as new technologies provide genuine benefits for users, sooner or later they will prevail.


Sourced from Vikram Setia, infoMentum

Avatar photo

Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

Related Topics