Many industries are undergoing a transformation as they work with integrating a digital transformation strategy into their business. Digital transformation is a big buzzword that’s circulating across multiple industries, especially manufacturing, health care and transportation – but there are common mistakes stakeholders make when they jump in with both feet without thinking of that strategy first. Especially with the pandemic increasing the adoption of these digital and automation efforts, there’s pitfalls to avoid.

Starting too big

Creating a digital transformation strategy means a fundamental shift in how your organization will operate- it’s a big deal. As the saying goes, “shoot for the moon and you’ll fall on the stars” however in this case if you shoot that far too fast, that might cost you millions of dollars and maybe the entire business. In 2022, spending on digital transformation is projected to reach $1.8 trillion and by 2025, global digital transformation spending is forecast to reach $2.8 trillion- the pandemic has really helped catapult these efforts too. As the organization embarks on a digital transformation journey, start small and build upon that initial plan as the organization shifts toward those changes. If a mistake is made or something is overlooked, the costs involved may be significantly less than if you were to adopt a tool that wasn’t the right fit across the entire enterprise. For example, start with how the business could benefit from robotic process automation (RPA). Ask yourself:

● How can certain departments within the organization benefit from automation?
● Are valuable internal resources wasting time on repetitive tasks that could be automated?
● Are there task-based workflows that would be faster and increase efficiency with an RPA tool?

Addressing these smaller questions will help prioritize the need for certain digitization/automation efforts and once you have one new workflow up and running, you can look into how you can scale up. Start with the most pressing issues where you can see almost immediate ROI and work your way into more complex system integration as it makes sense with those goals you’ve set for the business.

Not having a thought out plan

It’s critical to put a lot of thought into what the business goals are behind the digital transformation strategy you put into place. This is one of the top reasons why your digital transformation is destined to fail before it even begins. According to McKinsey research, 70 percent of transformations fail- that’s a daunting statistic. As an organization, decision-makers absolutely need to consider where they are at with their current digital infrastructure in order to be able to support the idea of a “digital transformation.” This might mean hiring additional internal resources or seeking the help of a consulting partner who has expertise in adopting tools and software that will help you succeed in your digital strategy. Sometimes it’s a case of, “you don’t know what you don’t know” and a consulting partner that has expertise in areas like workflow automation, data analytics, cloud services and integration will help guide the organization through the process.

Stakeholders need to understand how operations can improve within the organization and how/what digitization efforts make sense to resolve those issues. Whether those goals are to automate certain processes within the organization or integrate IoT devices to monitor and maintain machines to prevent downtime- identifying those goals is step one. It’s a common misstep to adopt technology for the sake of technology instead of adopting those tools to significantly improve the business. Without a plan, you will be chasing a moving target and may hurt operations instead of improving them.

Not understanding the resources needed

There are many technologies and software tools to be considered when you kickstart a strategy to digitize operations. Choosing a tool that isn’t the right fit for your organization’s business goals could really cost you. Defining your organization’s digital transformation readiness is a key step into understanding how your workforce is going to successfully adopt digitized workflows. A digital transformation doesn’t just mean focusing on business operations, but the people who are going to be implementing those tools and maintaining them and what this means for the organization’s customers. If the organization doesn’t have the proper IT support on-staff, look into partnering with external experts to launch your efforts successfully from the start instead of involving a third-party only to remediate the damage that has already been done. Cutting corners by not investing in the proper resources to launch these efforts will cost you later.

Once you have those resources to begin, it’s also important that everyone knows their role and is ready to adopt those new workflows. Extensive training will be required to make sure everyone is on board and understands the new processes that are in place to realize the ROI behind these efforts.

Not collecting the right data

This also ties into identifying clear business goals. The devices and tools you put into place that collect data, needs to be translated into actionable data and maintained. The data isn’t valuable if your internal team doesn’t evaluate and see how those insights can be used within the business or for customers to gain valuable insights across the business. Gartner reports that 97 percent of data sits unused by organizations. There are powerful BI tools that turn data into visualization dashboards making it easier to identify trends, areas of improvement and growth opportunities. As you collect more data to collect these insights, having these tools in place makes it so anyone within the organization can digest that information – not just a data scientist. The data is only useful if you use it!

Maintenance and scalability

Once you have your digital strategy up and running, you are not done- it’s really only the beginning. There’s a lot of maintenance involved to ensure the data being collected is clean, maintained, and secured properly. Once you start your digital journey, it’s going to be an ongoing cycle of identifying what is working, what can and should be upgraded or improved upon especially as new technologies are released.

Security should be at the forefront of any digitization effort within the business, especially when working with sensitive data. As you add devices to collect more data and intelligence, processes need to be put into place to ensure that data is being protected or else the consequences can be catastrophic. Especially in industrial environments, a cyber attack can be quite complex. As the organization is exposed to new procedures and working online with web applications and a cloud infrastructure, for example – that could open the organization up to a lot more vulnerabilities and increase the risk of a data breach or ransomware attack.

According to a recent McKinsey survey, 80 percent of respondents reported launching a digital transformation initiative in the past five years, however less than 33 percent were a lasting success. Avoiding these common pitfalls will definitely help guide you toward a more successful path with your digital transformation.

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