Digital Transformation Mistakes: Not thinking carefully about the platform for transformation

Written by Jory Weissman

February 10, 2020

The phrase, “like a kid in a candy store” often is used to explain the sheer excitement that exists when someone is presented with countless great options. However, if you think of this statement pragmatically or take it literally, it makes a bit less sense. First, not every option is going to match your taste. Second, the costs could stack up.

If you’re just grabbing candy randomly, you’re doing to end up spending a lot of money on something that ends up going to waste. The same thing goes for your digital transformation initiatives: You can buy all the technology you want, but if you go at it with no rhyme or reason, you’re going to end up spending thousands or more on software that goes unused.

Much like the previous mistakes we’ve discussed—failing to develop a strategy, failing to appreciate change management, and taking too big of a bite at the beginning—not thinking carefully about a platform for transformation could derail any initiative you attempt.

However, unlike the last of these, which affect direction, morale, and path, this one affects your budget directly.

Many Parts, One Goal. What Technologies Move You Toward Transformation?

In the path to creating a digitally transformed business, much of your focus should be on the technology that can get you there. As we discuss in our whitepaper on your possible mistakes, digital transformation is built on the following backbone:

  • Data management and analytics: Making maximal use of data is one of the key success factors for digital transformation.
  • E-Business: The once challenging job of porting a brick and mortar business to the web is now relatively simple, with template-based e-business platforms in the cloud.
  • Back office, operations and logistics: New cloud ERP platforms give businesses the ability to transform operations and management to adapt to new ways of doing business.
  • Business process change: Transformation implies news ways of handling business workflows like invoicing and payables. This goal is usually realized with modern Business Process Management (BPM) and automation software.
  • Application integration: New partners, and new ways of connecting with partner firms, are often part of a digital transformation. Standards-based APIs (E.g. RESTful APIs with JSON) simplify and speed up the process of integrating with partner firms.
  • Mobility: Mobile customers and workers tend to be part of the digital transformation mix. New mobility platforms give businesses the ability to adopt mobile computing with relative ease.

As you can see, the “kid in a candy store” mentality won’t cut it. You can start implementing a bunch of random solutions, but if you don’t pair this with a coherent strategy that ensures these all work together, you’re just going to end up with a bloated business that has spent a lot more money than you need to. This is why it’s so important to think about a platform.

The Power of a Platform: Coherent Technology without the Hype

So far, there is no such thing as a digital transformation platform. (Some may claim this honor, but it’s hype.)

Platforms are critical for success, though. Your people have to be comfortable working with the technology, so it makes sense to work with a platform they already know. Or, choose a platform, get everyone trained and work with it consistently on each phase of the transformation as it unfolds.

The best way to approach this is simple—if possible, look for what’s familiar. Though this may be less plausible for companies who haven’t looked at much software recently, sticking with something familiar can reduce the disdain from your employees and increase the likelihood for success.

For example, if you consider yourself a “Microsoft shop,” this might mean using Microsoft Azure cloud tools for mobile device management, data analytics and so forth.

Digital Transformation Success Relies on vision and Action

If you want to avoid transformation failure, it pays to take a lot of time to think about how you’re getting there. Bringing in a new, unfamiliar platform to effect the transformation will, at the very least, cause disruption in the IT department.

Big leaps can be great, but they come with their share of risks. We recently released a whitepaper that takes a look at digital transformation and offers insights into what can go right and wrong with the process.

In the coming months, we will continue to explore the mistakes you may make in this initiative, but if you want to see them all today, you can download our free digital transformation mistakes guide here.

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