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WEACCELERATE

Research-led Growth

  • Dr Oyindamola Asekun

Mistakes to Avoid in Pursuit of Digital Success

As we head to the end of 2017, the focus and writing on the wall is that Digital is here to stay. Digital is not only here to stay, but has emerged as the key growth driver for most companies. Digital spend for most organisations has more than doubled over the past 5 years, and the focus is now on how to become more digital.


The leading trend across vault’s top 50 global consulting firms is digital, but what does this mean for you? For most organisations being digital means adopting more technology, and technology enabled change. This could range from adopting ERP systems to installation of big data and analytics software. However, a missing ingredient which seems to elude most firms is the consumer. Whilst, this might seem simplistic - organisations welcome the dawn of the digital age, but they fail to acknowledge consumers and the changing consumer cultures as a key feature which determines the success or failure of any technology enabled change which might be adopted. If you have a digital strategy where you are not co-creating with the consumer or without the consumer at the centre of process, you might want to start writing a business case on the need to do so.


Here are some tips to help you avoid what I consider the biggest mistakes companies make when going ‘digital’:


#1: Making digital all about technology

Too many times, I’ve heard people say we want to define a digital strategy, we need to become more digital... and they immediately turn to technology. Whilst technology may be an enabler, it does not always result in harnessing the benefits of being digital. This is because, the end user of your products and services are humans, people with emotions and feelings, from diverse cultures, with different passions and interests. When organisations lose focus of this, they adopt the next shining ‘tech’ with the hope that something magical will happen when they push a digital red button – to trigger their firms’ transformation. The lack of understanding that digital is not all about technology will usually lead to wasted money, effort, and time. Market risk and missed opportunities could also increase. Before you invest in your next digital transformation effort you can do the following:

  1. Develop a digital vision

  2. Understand the changing market place: It’s not sufficient that your organisation is the market leader, or that your firm made the most profit last year. Every organisation needs to continually invest in research and development to continually understand the market including its competitors (known competition, challenger firms, and market disruptors), consumers (changing consumer needs, culture changes, segments, and demographics), distribution channels and market trends.

  3. Carve out SMART objectives to help you achieve the vision

  4. Conduct an analysis of your organisation to understand and identify weaknesses, risks, strengths, and opportunities for improvement.

The realisation that digital is not all about technology, is a key component to achieving digital success and without it your chances are limited.


#2: Failing to consider your organisational culture and people

Whilst working with clients, I see companies of all shapes and sizes, all having the same expectations of immediate turnaround in results when they get the latest ‘digital’ technology. However, in most cases, the key barriers to digital success within organisations are its people, and the organisational culture. Culture has been described as beliefs, values and opinions which differentiates a group of people from another. For most organisations, their culture is a stumbling block as it does not allow for a fluid and proactive response to change. As such, after investing millions of £s on technology, they find out months later that the benefits are still not emerging.


The fact is in order to harness the benefits of going ‘digital’, organisations need to be ready for cultural change. Therefore, it is important to introduce potential digital culture drivers and involve the employees throughout the process.


The following steps could be taken to mitigate this risk:

  1. Clear communication with your employees

  2. Provide training and avenues for continuous feedback

  3. Develop a ‘new’ organisational culture which supports digital change

  4. Develop new role and digital capabilities for your employees

With these and many more people management strategies which I know you are aware of, you can gradually gain momentum and begin to see benefits.


#3. Failing to continually improve

Digital is no longer a mirage or mirrors which no one can truly master in order to harness its benefits and produce results. With the advent of new technology and rapid devops there would always be new digital tools and devices which can track, analyse and better optimise activities. The question is after you achieve success in becoming digital or make some of your business processes more digital and you can see demonstrable results, what next?


As a business exec, lead, or manager, it is your responsibility to be informed of the continuous changing trends in the market, not just by focusing on the innovators or market leaders but by investing in research and development either in house or external. Even if you do not know what direction to take, get expert help or hire a digital consultant, this would save you money in the long term and ensure that your tech team are on their toes because someone is reviewing their work.


In conclusion, digital isn’t just about new shiny technology, and processes, but it involves people – your employees, and continually changing consumers. Now is the time to ensure that you are making the most of your investment in digital. Be prepared for 2018.


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