The Challenges of Digital Transformation for businesses
In light of the pandemic, organisations are in a race against time in coming up with solutions that will help increase efficiency and remain profitable despite the many challenges brought about by COVID-19.
Along with new policies and government-mandated restrictions, the pandemic has also changed customer expectations and sentiment—and companies and brands should (and need to) keep up if they want to stay relevant in the current market.
The sudden boom in online sales in 2020 is a good case in point; purchases made online jumped from 10.8% in 2019 to 16.1% in the second quarter of 2020.
This is a drastic change that requires a digital transformation or at least a rethinking of how an organisation approaches technology and digital solutions.
Digital transformation has become somewhat of a buzzword in recent years; unfortunately, not all companies can say that they fully grasp the magnitude and scope of this change.
It’s a cultural and foundational change that can only be successful as a top-down initiative because a shared vision across the organisation is vital.
This is not always the case.
Consequently, only 40% of organisations have successfully scaled their digital initiatives despite 87% of senior business leaders listing down digitalisation as a company priority.
In light of the current situation, business leaders should find ways to revive stunted digital transformation initiatives and pivot their strategy to accommodate remote or hybrid working arrangements and other health and safety priorities that have or may come about due to the pandemic.
Three Common Challenges of Digital Transformation
Below are a few key challenges that organisations should address to ensure that their digital transformation is seamless and efficient.
1. Old Organisational Structures Hinder Success
The conventional structure of organisations is simply not equipped to address the challenges of a truly digital business.
The most common misconception is that a digital transformation entails just upgrading an organisation’s systems and tools, but this can’t be farther from the truth.
Successful digital transformations require a mindset change so the organisation can properly adapt to the necessary changes.
Even if the latest and greatest technologies and systems are implemented, a robust digital transformation strategy is required if organisation-wide adoption is expected.
Transparency is vital so that expectations can be aligned and every member of the organisation knows what’s taking place.
As with any change, a digital transformation can’t be as smooth as one hopes to be if the transition isn’t handled efficiently.
Keeping open lines of communication before, during, and after the transition is required so there’s no resistance to change and both stakeholders and employees understand the nature and rationale of the changes being implemented.
Reiterate the tangible benefits of a digital transformation and how it can positively affect the way the organisation and its people work.
These are very uncertain times, and as such, it’s beneficial for organisations to adopt and promote empathetic leadership.
Acknowledge employee challenges brought about by remote working and find ways to encourage employees to acclimate themselves to the digital culture and the systems and solutions involved.
Change management programs will go a long way in helping them adapt to data-driven processes and workflows.
It will also ensure that they not only learn to integrate new technologies into the way they work but that the necessary cultural changes and organisational realignments are done—and done properly.
2. Technical Expertise Gaps Slow Down Technology Integration
New technologies almost always require upskilling members of an organisation so they can adapt to new systems and processes.
During the planning stages, determining the necessary IT resources and management teams should also be part of the digital transformation strategy.
The main challenge here is the lack of manpower that possesses the necessary technical skills.
The digital workforce isn’t that large to begin with, and a substantial portion of them have been trained using legacy systems.
This is not to say legacy systems are obsolete, but there must be a process in place to facilitate seamless integration of both old and new systems.
The skills gap is a major hurdle to successful digital transformation, with 95% of CIO’s stating that they need to expand their IT capabilities to include new responsibilities, specifically, cybersecurity (64%), data privacy and compliance (49%), and customer experience (46%).
Organisations should evaluate current resources and determine what needs to be upgraded, replaced, and outsourced.
The main goal of resource planning and strategising is bridging the skill gaps and leveraging on the organisation’s strengths.
3. Security Concerns Affect Confidence in Digital Transformation Initiatives
As data becomes more valuable to businesses and its management more intertwined with organisational processes, cybersecurity is becoming a major concern for many forward-thinking business leaders.
The concept of cybersecurity is ever-evolving and dynamic, and it’s one that all businesses should be focusing on.
Integrating technologies requires a rethinking of data security strategies and determining what’s needed to adapt to the ever-changing security requirements of a digital business.
An organisation’s digital transformation strategy should have security as a main focus.
It should be embedded in all applications and systems together with security controls and protocols implemented across all platforms within the organisation.
This also requires the continuous education of IT and cybersecurity managers and personnel on new methods of cyberattacks and system exploits and constant analysis of system and organisational data to identify unauthorised data access and other system anomalies.
As teams and employees get more connected and processes become, for the most part, digital, security should become second nature to enhance the collaborative experience within the organisation, further promoting the benefits of a digital transformation.
From Complexity to Success
Digital transformation, by its very nature, is a complex process.
The degree of this complexity, however, will depend on how an organisation approaches its data and digital strategies.
Digital transformation is essentially the introduction of an ecosystem—one that integrates digital into organisational processes and allows legacy systems and modern platforms to complement each other.
There will be roadblocks to any digital transformation journey, but having a robust strategy, aligning expectations, and ensuring that you promote change across every aspect of the business will help in addressing and overcoming them.
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