Don’t fall for quick wins, make digital transformation sustainable

MARK BARLOW-

In the months following the outbreak of Covid-19, organizations across the globe have gone through two years’ worth of transformation, according to Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft. This is especially true for organizations that had never had a remote workforce and relied very little on the capabilities cloud applications can offer.

While these solutions have helped businesses run as efficiently as they could at the time, many haven’t thought about how these investments fit into a wider, more sustainable digital transformation journey.

Even though we’re experiencing a challenge not of our own making, simply delivering a project on time and to budget, and then moving onto the next, is not a true measure of success. When done properly, digital transformation could be the single biggest accelerator at our disposal for economic recovery. This sounds great on the surface and like something every business could strive towards, but countless organizations fail to measure the value of their investments against business outcomes beyond the initial engagement.

Read More: Dual Track Approach To Deploying Effective Digital Transformation

In fact, research from McKinsey and Forbes has shown that 70% of digital transformation projects fail – a problem that will continue to be exacerbated if the factors that cause this failure aren’t addressed. This could see enterprises experience significant losses, especially with global digital transformation spend set to reach $1.3 billion this year.

Considering this clear mismanagement, it’s now more important than ever to pause and reflect on what to change, what to look at more closely, and what to keep from this period of intense change.

So, what can organizations do to make their digital transformation journey more sustainable, especially with the challenging circumstances the global pandemic has caused?

It’s all about measurement

While Gartner has revised its global IT spending 2020 projections to factor in the impact of the pandemic, it did highlight that spending will recover in a much faster and smoother manner than the rest of the economy.

But being able to measure the success of these tech investments is absolutely crucial and could mean the difference between the businesses who succeed and those who fail.

Findings from AppLearn’s recent Digital Adoption Pulse report reinforce a strong appetite for technology adoption. Over two thirds of business leaders told us their organizations have rolled out new software within the last 12 months, and over half said they plan to increase their budgets for software initiatives in the next year.

Despite this appetite, the report uncovered that organizations are continually struggling with being able to tie their technology investments to clear and meaningful business outcomes. With 90% of organizations telling us they have difficulties measuring important business outcomes of their investments, there’s plenty to be done.

Read More: Device-as-a-Service’s role in supporting digital transformation

We also found that many organizations could fall victim to the problems caused by short-termism, by only measuring the success of their software investments in the first year of implementation. Only 12% measured success after one year, falling to 5% after three years.

This is particularly worrying considering the adjustments to ways of working that happen beyond the first year of rolling out new technology. And it’s clear from our findings that there’s a discrepancy between digital transformation ambitions and their ability to measure success, and thus, realize desired business outcomes.

To achieve true adoption, technology needs to be measured and optimized for the long-term.

Measuring success in the long-term

From the outset, organizations need to identify aims and KPIs for their technology investments – this will help them to measure what’s working, and what may need to change to lead them on the road to success.

Whether it’s monitoring how much time is being saved by using a specific piece of software, or how quickly users are completing tasks, continuous measurement offers unique insight into how a piece of technology is being adopted across a business. Many organizations don’t realize how much time and money can be wasted by users having to repeat tasks – often at a slower pace than the first time – but the cost is very worrying.

Careful long-term measurement can also help to highlight potential issues that could affect the success of a digital transformation journey. This becomes particularly important when considering inevitable employee churn and new training needs related to this, as well as upgrades to applications that affect the user’s experience of the technology.

Read More: Digital Transformation is All About Identifying the Organization’s Future Leaders

These KPIs also need to be linked into overall business outcomes, such as an increase in productivity, a reduction of IT support tickets, or overall cost savings across a range of functions within a business.

It’s time to reset

If the global pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we should be more open to change. Many businesses were forced to rapidly adopt new software and ways of working, and they are now seeing the tangible benefits that digital transformation can have their organization’s bottom line.

It’s now time for businesses to level up their technology investments by creating strategies that are proactive, not reactive. It’s time to move beyond quick wins and make digital transformation sustainable in the long-term to help businesses thrive – not just survive.