Why most digital transformation programmes fail and how yours can succeed

October 11, 2021

Various disruptive forces are driving businesses to digitally transform. The ones we identify as most important at Calls9 are:

  • increased competition, 
  • shifting customer expectations, 
  • new working patterns and 
  • disruptive technology. 

Reflecting on these existential threats, most businesses start digital transformation programmes to change and adapt. They aim to improve the customer experience and introduce new ways of working. Some of them also improve their business model and launch new digital products or services.

Yet, the hard truth is that most transformations fail. Research from the Everest Group shows that 73% of complex digital transformations did not provide any value. Additionally, 78% did not meet their business objectives, leaving us with a success rate of 22%. This data is painful but true. Why is this happening, and how can businesses avoid the pitfalls of transformation?

Here are the pitfalls that you need to avoid and the keys to a successful digital transformation. 

Digital transformation does not match customer and employee needs. 

Businesses that change for the sake of it are doomed to fail. Digital transformation is all about people and how to make their lives better. It involves taking into account their needs and expectations. 

Start by listening and understanding what your people need you to improve. Businesses that neglect this step are risking investing in expensive solutions that people do not like using. This happens when the user experience is not what they expect, or the technology is irrelevant to their needs. 

Organisation culture is also a key factor of success or failure. First, you need to identify if you have the right culture to embrace transformation. Ask yourself, how easy it is to adopt a new process or technology? How many legacy systems do you have? How does your leadership perceive change? You will then release or confirm if you have a change-resistance culture. If you do, then you need to prioritise culture change before the transformation. We know, changing people's behaviour is not easy, but it is necessary. But, a change-resistant culture will be a serious obstacle to change and growth. Our advice is to make your people aware of the necessity to change. Invest in learning and development and start by making small changes first. 

See how Squire Patton Boggs improved the global customer and employee experience by putting their people first.

Lack clear of clear objectives

Businesses going through transformation without setting clear objectives is another why projects fail. Defining clear goals means that your team understands where to focus and what you are trying to achieve as a business. Be it cost-reduction, increase efficiencies or improve the customer experience. 

Neglecting this, you will end up with people not having a clear purpose. There will be no alignment and ultimately leading to failure.

Like any other business decision that involves change, setting up your goals properly is the number one priority. Then plan on how to deliver your goals and measure their effectiveness. 

Read how, with clear goals, I&I disrupted the dental Indemnity and Insurance industry, delivering a market-first proposition. 

Trying to reinvent the wheel 

A common digital transformation pitfall is trying to change everything all at once. This leads to massive stress for the business leadership and the employees. They have to cope with the day to day activities and prepare or learn new processes and systems at the same time. Your approach to digital transformation determines if your project will meet your expectations or not. 

Digital transformation works best when businesses understand where the opportunity with digital lies. Our experience shows that the best approach is to improve what needs improvement. It gives the business time to process change. Focus the appropriate resources on transforming specific inefficient parts and deliver measurable outcomes. 

Read how Savings Champion enhanced the customer and employee experience by identifying what needed improvement and then switching to a new digital solution from Calls9. 

How we can we help you de-risk your digital transformation programmes

At Calls9, we help start-ups and established businesses digitally transform to reduce inefficiencies and accelerate growth.

With over 10 years of experience, we understand the challenges you face with digital transformation. To help you manage risk, we have designed an auditing process that assesses:

  • How your customers and employees perceive your business to identify areas of improvement.
  • What the competitive landscape looks like and changes i your sector that could affect your business.
  • How digital can have an actual impact on your customers, employees and ultimately your business. 

At the end of the audit, you will have a clear digital strategy built around your specific needs. It will be designed to help you improve your business, disrupt your market or enter a new one. 

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