Only a small number of organisations have been able to successfully scale their digital initiatives beyond the experimentation and piloting stages, a study finds, which identifies six barriers which must be navigated on when embarking on a digital transformation journey.
Business analyst Gartner contends that this is because digital transformation requires more than simply investing in the latest technology – it demands significant changes to culture and systems.
“To change an organisation designed for a structured, ordered, process-oriented world to one designed for ecosystems, adaptation, learning and experimentation is hard,” said Marcus Blosch, research vice president at Gartner.
“Some organisations will navigate that change, and others that can’t change will become outdated and be replaced.”
The six barriers and Gartner’s advice on overcoming them are outlined below:
1 A change-resisting culture
“Culture is organisational ‘dark matter’ – you can’t see it, but its effects are obvious,” said Blosch. “The challenge is that many organisations have developed a culture of hierarchy and clear boundaries between areas of responsibilities. Digital innovation requires the opposite: collaborative cross-functional and self-directed teams that are not afraid of uncertain outcomes.”
Those aiming to establish a digital culture should start small: define a digital mindset, assemble a digital innovation team, and shield it from the rest of the organisation to let the new culture develop. Connections between the digital innovation and core teams can then be used to scale new ideas and spread the culture.
2 Limited sharing and collaboration
Digital innovation with its collaborative cross-functional teams is often very different from what employees are used to with regards to functions and hierarchies and resistance is inevitable.
“It’s not necessary to have everyone on board in the early stages. Try to find areas where interests overlap, and create a starting point,” said Blosch. “Build a first version, test the idea and use the success story to gain the momentum needed for the next step.”
3 The business isn’t ready
Many business leaders are caught up in the hype around digital business. But when the CIO or CDO wants to start the transformation process, it turns out that the business doesn’t have the skills or resources needed.
Gartner recommends focusing on the early adopters with the willingness and openness to change and leverage digital. But keep in mind that digital may just not be relevant to certain parts of the organisation.
4 The talent gap
Employees need new skills focused on innovation, change and creativity along with the new technologies themselves, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT)
“In smaller or more innovative organisations, it is possible to redefine individuals’ roles to include more skills and competencies needed to support digital,” said Blosch. “In other organisations, using a bimodal approach makes sense by creating a separate group to handle innovation with the requisite skill set.”
5 Current practices don’t support the talent
“Some organisations may shift to a product management-based approach for digital innovations because it allows for multiple iterations,” said Blosch. “Operational innovations can follow the usual approaches until the digital team is skilled and experienced enough to extend its reach and share the learned practices with the organisation.”
6 Change isn’t easy
Developing platforms, changing the organisational structure, and creating an ecosystem of partners is challenging.
According to Gartner, enterprises should build the organisational capabilities that make change simpler and faster. To do that, it said, they should develop a platform-based strategy that supports continuous change and design principles and then innovate on top of that platform.