Monday, June 2, 2014

5 reasons your Digital Change initiative will fail

Nearly every business I now speak to is going through some form of digital change. From smaller organisations assessing the capabilities and skills of their online marketing teams & agencies, through to major multi-nationals looking to transform their IT systems, business processes and customer engagement models around electronic services... the mantra is clear “change or be changed in this new digital world” and I bet yours is very similar.

But transforming your company into a digital leader isn't easy and “becoming the next Amazon” is neither realistic nor practical for most organisations.

To give some ideas of the challenges faced, from my experience here are some areas where organisations fail to get a grip on their digital change:

1. Your delivery model is wrong:
Are you still creating lengthy waterfall project plans more suited to industrial age delivery expectations? The age of agile development and iterative delivery has not only been around for decades now, it has evolved into different flavours and techniques. However, just diving into a fully-blown scrum delivery method without fully understanding the implications this will have on the wider business (and setting these up correctly) is also a recipe for failure.

2. You don’t have the right skills in place
Just giving people new digital job titles doesn't cut it. There’s a talent war out in the wider marketplace right now, where businesses are struggling to hire and keep the right people with the necessary online skills to take big steps forward in technology, marketing and other commercial areas.  Assess what makes your company different and how you could attract and retain the right talent to realise your digital ambitions.

3. You don’t have digital business leadership
Ask yourself who in your company is actually responsible for the ownership and stewardship of your digital strategy? Where are the priorities, road-map and alignment of this digital strategy to the rest of the business set? If this role is not represented at your boardroom table, then you’re probably not taking it seriously enough.

4. You haven’t defined your technical vision and solution
It’s one thing to make bold claims about where your company will be in the future, it’s another entirely to assume it will get there without a technical vision of what the end solution looks like. I don’t think I have ever been on a successful change programme that failed to have the solution architecture for the main features or components defined in advance.

5. Your culture doesn't accept failure
Sure, every company likes to say it gets everything “right first time” but in reality this never happens… there is always room for improvement and things always go wrong. Or in other words “fail forward” by: accepting it, getting on with it, learning from it and move forwards quickly. One client I worked for in the past had a company policy of actually rewarding when a member of staff accepted they had made a failure (and quickly wrote up what went wrong and what they would do better next time). 
Has anyone got any others?
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