Digital transformation roadblocks: overcoming disruption and resistance to change

The surge in demand for digital transformation in the last few years continues to accelerate as companies sense the urgency to adapt for Industry 4.0 or fade away. There are many systems, stakeholders, and critical business decisions involved in what is essentially a journey, as opposed to an IT project. Which is why many organizations are bringing in dedicated Digital Transformation Leaders to build out a vision, a strategy, and a process to overcome challenges and implement transformative change through unified digital solutions. Where to start?

We’ve teamed up with the authors of the book “Building a Digital Future, A Transformational Blueprint for Innovating with Microsoft Dynamics 365”, to share excerpts that answer some critical questions on the road to transformation. In this first article we focus on breaking down internal and external barriers and building up processes. 

Face the hurdles of digital transformation head on

Organizations need to look carefully at some core barriers that can become fatal to a digital transformation strategy if not resolved before starting any initiative. 

Consumer engagement. While consumers or clients sit at the heart of digital transformation, it is the utmost priority to engage with consumers first to understand areas that can accelerate or improve consumer experience. 

Cost efficiencies. We have all heard the phrase, “This software costs a fortune; we cannot afford it.” Indeed, the cost of implementation, maintenance, and licensing may become a big investment and the real ROI will most likely show up after user adoption. Hence there is greater need to identify the business areas that can be made efficient that will eventually drive the growth of business, ensuring a cost-efficiency investment. 

Resistance to change. Humans by nature subconsciously resist change, especially when changes are initiated or forced by the external environment. Therefore, before initiating any transformation strategies or plans, business leaders should proactively draft initial risk assessments, regularly measure and track engagement and commitment from the very early stages of any project, communicate their expectations openly and honestly, but, most importantly, identify opportunities to motivate employees to become part of the planning process. 

Old practices in a new environment. It is understandable that a digital transformation strategy is not solely the implementation of new systems but also the change in internal processes due to the ability to automate long and exhausting manual processes. Introducing the latest and most sophisticated technology without evaluating the old and setting new processes will certainly limit the potential of the whole endeavor.  

The right product or the vendor. For this subject, there should be an option to make a choice. There are many examples where organizations chose the vendor over the product due to strategic relationships or hidden agendas, which unsurprisingly led to failed projects and broken relationships. Choosing the right product that suits the business and users should be a careful and transparent process. 



Identify opportunities through optimized business processes

Digital transformation is about people and processes, adopting new technologies, and changing the culture for the betterment of the current and future business processes. The solution needs to be designed that meets the current business requirement and is futureproof with new evolving technologies and changing business needs. During unprecedented times of crisis like COVID-19, it has proved even more worthwhile for businesses to be agile, flexible, and scalable, enabling remote working and meetings the business needs.  

Part of digital transformation refers to the improvement of business processes, to improve the value proposition toward the client, improve the experience of the client, and also of the users, so that it is transformed into a better service. In other words. Within the digital transformation strategy of a company, it must be considered a high priority to make key processes more efficient for customers and employees of the organization. Customer and employees expect fast modern applications that can be used on mobile devices, and that are safe and easy to use. 

Normally in companies, there are dozens or hundreds of business processes. Many of these business processes present opportunities for improvement, either because they are slow or obsolete or because they do not collect all the data currently required, they do not involve all stakeholders, or the software that supports them is obsolete and the data is stored in information silos. There are business processes that do not respond to current reality and others that are more complex than necessary 

The negative impact of these business processes includes wasteful time management due to manual processes, manual or lack of integration between two systems, and in some cases systems prone to human error, which overall leads to a negative customer experience or demotivated system users. Efforts to improve business processes are costly in time and resources, especially if we think of business processes that involve various channels, systems, and areas of the company. It is also costly in time and resources to keep these processes up to date, to be prepared for constant changes, new products and services, new channels, technologies, sales methods, and market conditions.  


Visualize the transformation process and the outcomes

Putting in your experience of digital transformation, can you visualize the process and the outcome of your business transformation? Depending on your level of engagement, you are bound to be part of many decisions taken during your digital transformation journey, starting with identifying the processes that can be made more efficiently. Is this efficiency in the process going to deliver an improved customer journey or will it improve the business growth by entering a new market 

As a transforming and forward-thinking board of directors, you need to be released from the bonds of old-style business. You need to be encouraging the entire company to consider the easiest, most efficient, and most repeatable ways your customers will be buying from you. Expanding massive effort getting your internal systems to work for you is a waste of your time and resources. For this reason, it is critical you understand your process and direction and utilize your efforts early in getting the systems to be as transparent and understandable as possible so that your company can concentrate on the customer.  

Set your vision and work hard in the transformation to release the company from the bonds of your ERP (or any other) system. Get the processes clear, automated, and homogenized as much as possible, apply people to the outliers that cost money, and get on with making your customers have such an easy time dealing with you that they cannot stop ordering.