The majority of digital transformations fail. Here’s why poor communication could cause yours to be among them.

Digital transformations, depending on who you ask, fail anywhere between 70% and 90% of the time. That’s a high failure rate. According to Gartner, 91% of businesses are currently engaging in some form of digital initiative. An overwhelming percentage (87%) of senior business leaders say that digitalization is a priority.

The IDC’s 2023 FutureScape report notes that “IT isn’t an organisation — it’s the very fabric of the enterprise”, and “we have now entered the era of the digital business, where transformation must be part of enterprise DNA.’’

So, if digital transformation is in our DNA—a fact of life—why aren’t we better at it? 

Many people’s first instinct might be to blame the “digital” part of digital transformation for the universally low success rate. Broken technology, buggy software, and poorly integrated systems are what a lot of people think of when they imagine digital transformations gone awry. However, according to industry experts, this is rarely the case.

“Your tech is fine; it’s the people who are getting in the way,” says Dr Corrie Brock, an Organisational Behaviour Expert and Executive Coach based in Dubai. “You will fail 84% of the time, not because of inadequate technology, lack of organisational capacity or lack of funds… Humans are the problem. And the solution.” 

Through this lens, which favours change management and culture over shiny toys, here’s why your digital transformation is probably in danger of failing. 

Poor communication creates adversity 

A digital transformation is a significant change for an organisation. It can mean relearning processes, changing responsibilities, and pockets of obsolescence. If communication is poor, employees will expect to be laid off as soon as they finish installing the new AI-powered automation platform, and no one is going to willingly take part in their own perceived extinction. Poor communication means they go from being the executors of a digital transformation to its enemies. 

It’s human nature to fear the unknown. Consequently, most employees will resist adopting new software, tools, apps, and processes. This is true even if these innovations promise to enhance their lives. Only educating workers about the use and purpose of new tools will build the necessary trust. Leaders who build trust across their teams, clearly communicate their vision, and support their employees will have a better chance of success than those who don’t. 

Losing sight of the fact that every digital transformation exists to drive business outcomes is a huge red flag. Implementing cool technology because it’s cool is a sure fire way to waste money, time, and the goodwill of the C-Suite. 

If your digital transformation srategy is festooned with cutting edge technology, but that that techology doesn’t actually support your business’ key objectives, it’s time to rethink your strategy. 

  • Digital Strategy

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