In this competitive market, businesses see the need for constant innovation. But the cooling economy is forcing many companies to cut back on technology budgets, ease staff hiring, or freeze some programs in the hopes of a more secure economic environment in the future—seemingly, these circumstances and measures necessitate a hold on digital transformation, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
The New York Times recently referred to a research poll showing that 82 percent of technology managers in the US anticipate a recession, yet 62 percent reported that technology spending would be the same or increase compared with 2022.
Business leaders, as we do, recognize that despite economic conditions, digital technology can help streamline and/or optimize existing costly processes within the company’s infrastructure, creating operational efficiencies and thereby improving essential CX or UX, which ultimately improves or at least softens the blow to their bottom line. The key differentiator for companies that recognize the value of focused digital investments is how they approach their options regarding ongoing implementations and technology/process optimizations.
From an advisory services perspective, it’s our experience that, in an effort to respond to a rapidly evolving marketplace with limited resources, three common mistakes often derail a company’s digital transformation aspirations, potentially costing companies in both monetary investment, time, and lost opportunity.
Let’s discuss three common transformation pitfalls we encounter with customers looking to save costs while staying the transformation course.
1. Opting to handle implementation in-house
In the spirit of DIY, it’s tempting to rely on your IT team to implement or renovate a new system. That should save the company money, right? However, many stakeholders underestimate the time and expertise needed to successfully implement digital technology in the most cost-effective way—despite even their best efforts and intentions.
Although your IT team can offer in-depth, even strategic analysis of the company’s operations and technology needs and limitations as they pertain to certain objectives, most lack the bandwidth to dedicate the time needed to effectively execute digital transformation or the experience to implement the tools being considered according to best practices and standards. Another major issue IT teams come across is effectively engaging the operational and business side of the company in a way that effectively elicits and translates their needs into clear, executable technology designs that deliver organizational value and strategic progress.
Many times, the team ends up troubleshooting and learning new technologies as they try to implement them, which proves expensive, wasteful, and time-consuming. There is, unfortunately, no substitute for experience when it comes to complex technology implementations, rather reinventing the wheel through each phase, with no guarantee that the new process will work or has been built to the best standards.
At first glance, working with an experienced external company may seem expensive. But let’s consider the obvious advantages:
- They know the product. They know how it performs, and, when needed, they know how and when to responsibly customize, expand, or integrate new technologies with existing ones for a specific process or business need. Again, hands-on experience with these products ensures an elegant design and responsible build.
- They know other products. Sometimes, the most efficient system consists of a collection of different products. For example, Salesforce products like Sales Cloud and CPQ work well with DocuSign CLM to create a seamless digital customer experience while also giving full quote-to-order control to sales teams. Similarly, they can guide customers as to when additional applications may not be needed or where existing technology can be leveraged to meet specific functionality.
- They know how to gain the most value from these products, based on experience. Designing the ideal system for your company is all they do. They understand what has worked well with similar companies, of similar scale, in the same industry, and they have proven expertise to design a system that fits your company’s needs, and they install features correctly and conscientiously–the first time around. At the risk of repeating a key fact – nothing counts as experience does.
2. Not establishing clear objectives, timeline, or budget
An experienced delivery team may produce seemingly magical results, but they aren’t mind readers. Customers should be prepared for in-depth meetings with their delivery team, leaders, end users, and various operational and frontline stakeholders to clarify expectations, budget, projected timelines, and other factors that, when handled proactively, ensure a successful implementation that delivers against their definition of value and addresses their pain points.
“Not having clear end-user experience objectives and accurate ways to measure progress is often the reason the target is missed,” explains Patrick Ostiguy, a tech business founder and a member of the Forbes Technology Council. “The failure percentage is even higher when there are hundreds of legacy applications to migrate to the cloud.”
Keep in mind, digital transformation is a marathon–not a sprint, and some may say that there really is no finish line anyway. Companies should prepare to invest in a long-term relationship with a team that is committed to maintaining optimal digital performance, with the mindset of continual system updates and improvements to deliver ultimate project success. All the while, they need to be constantly plugged into the changing tides of industry best practices, lessons learned from similar programs and endeavors, and the evolving capabilities, features, and pitfalls of emerging technologies. An example of this was how the Simplus digital team partnered with PUMA for many years, implementing, supporting, evolving, and ultimately delivering key value drivers through Salesforce Commerce Cloud, doubling engagement since conception but still looking for new ways to leverage the tool and further build on success and learnings.
3. Overlooking employee engagement, onboarding, and adoption
Although stakeholders, vendors and leaders close to the project ideation and design can visualize how digital transformation will change the broad day-to-day operations, in many cases employees (end users) are the last group to learn how this new technology will impact their jobs. We’ve found that the most successful digital transformations consider the impact on internal users at the outset, constantly during development, and a comprehensive change impact assessment and management plan is built to ensure user adoption post-go-live.
“Digital transformation is about leveraging technology to aid people in streamlining processes—meaning there is no silver bullet or single initiative that makes a company transform digitally,” Endre Walls from Customers Bancorp and a member of the Forbes Technology Council, explains. “The work style of your people has to be the primary driver for such initiatives. Tackle it that way, and you’ll find success.”
At the end of the day, changes to technology and processes are all for naught if you struggle with people getting used to and accepting a new way of doing things. Unfortunately, many projects start without this necessary consideration for the user experience—or even user perceptions manifesting into their experience—which results in project delays, frustration, or even outright failure.
Through the years, we’ve helped many customers find solutions to make digital transformation not only possible, but exciting and enjoyable for their organizations through clarity of vision, transparency in our intent, and excellence in collaborative execution.