David Antoine is the CEO of Active digital.
In today’s ever-changing marketplace, companies are under tremendous pressure to serve customers and keep employees engaged. Digital transformations can be powerful initiatives as they can help companies stay competitive and improve customer and employee experiences. But leaders often allocate significant resources for major overhauls without understanding the broader journey and potential pitfalls along the way.
It turns out that failed transformations are a common problem. I’ve seen it too often: business leaders don’t always ensure that their transformation helps the organization achieve its goals. Once the ink has dried on the contracts, leaders sit back and wait for the benefits, only to be disappointed when the results are less than transformative.
MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte’s Global Study showed that digital transformation isn’t really about technology, but many business leaders are just focusing on their tech stack and nothing else. A hands-off approach is just one of many pitfalls that can derail an organization’s journey. Despite the best efforts of business leaders, these ventures can fail for various reasons.
Below, I’ve listed some of the most common issues that I’ve found can prevent businesses from successfully adopting a more digital approach to business, along with guidelines to help leaders avoid these challenges.
Issue #1: Overlooking culture for tools
When it comes to digital transformations, it’s natural to focus on the tools and technologies that help you achieve the results you want. And while the bulk of your spending will likely be on new technology, true digital transformation isn’t achieved by simply implementing new resources. To achieve lasting results, business leaders must also explore and optimize their culture. Alignment between technology and corporate culture is the key to success. The two cannot work side by side, with new tools clashing with old values and processes. Instead, the new technology must become an integral part of those values and processes.
Successful company-wide shifts involve people and processes, regardless of the industry. Think of insurance companies. The best performing carriers are: make use of digital to transform their business, operations and organizational models, McKinsey said. The data shows that high profile insurance companies are “committing to a clear digital strategy, investing in key technology capabilities, building a collaborative mindset and aligning their organizational structures, talent development, funding and performance indicators with the digital strategies they have chosen.”
Digital transformation is most effective and successful when it affects every aspect of the business, including its employees and culture.
Problem No. 2: Missing the forest for the KPIs
It makes sense to create a few initial performance indicators to measure your company’s adoption of new technology. Understanding how adoption is progressing can help uncover problems and address unexpected challenges. But those initial stats shouldn’t be your sole focus. It’s equally important to understand how the enhanced digital experience helps your two greatest assets: your employees and customers.
Compared to other industries, insurance companies are less focused on addressing customer pain points. McKinsey also found that insurers are “struggling to reduce process complexity and customer dissatisfaction.” At the same time, other companies are raising the bar for more digital, tailored experiences for customers and employees. This presents a great opportunity: if an insurance company increases customer and employee satisfaction with digital transformation, they have positioned themselves as leaders in that industry.
To measure how you’re improving outcomes for your customers, monitor your company’s Net Promoter score and follow trends with your customer experience team to understand what’s changing with customer pain points. You’ll also want to track user retention metrics to see if customers are sticking around or if your user acquisition costs aren’t changing at all. These are great KPIs to help you determine if your efforts are paying off or if there’s something you need to adjust to better serve your customers.
For your employees, you want to measure whether the transformation actually leads to an improvement in efficiency and a stronger company morale. I recommend implementing a process to determine how certain time-consuming tasks are affected by the transformation. Perhaps pick a few that have historically been a significant waste of time and see if employees can reduce the time spent on those projects. To understand shifts in company culture and employee satisfaction, use quantitative and qualitative data from employee surveys to keep a finger on the pulse of shifts in morale.
Issue No. 3: Indenting Without Map
Because making fundamental changes can be messy, you need a step-by-step plan. This is especially true when it comes to corporate culture. As you manage the layered stages of your digital transformation, mapping out the right sequence of operations will help you optimize customer and employee satisfaction.
Orienting your roadmap around a pole star – the results you want to achieve for your customers and employees – is a valuable starting point. Consider the company culture and growth trajectory as part of this initial planning phase to determine what steps may be needed to facilitate adoption or make necessary culture changes. From there, you can analyze workflows and start optimizing your customer and employee journeys.
Managing successful digital transformations can be challenging, but focusing on transforming your culture, following the right KPIs and following a unique roadmap are essential. Reinforcing internal champions for the transformation also increases your chances of success. Remember to periodically evaluate what works and what doesn’t, and adjust from there. If the results don’t indicate the desired customer and employee experience, it’s time to recalibrate. Nothing is permanent, so don’t be afraid to make changes to get you back on track.