With talent shortage constraining growth and increasing the cost of operation, productivity will continue to be a challenge facing organisations in 2023. As a result, the impetus for digital transformation has never been higher. However, the core challenge for most organisations is the efforts in change management and roll-out.
How do businesses break down mental barriers to digital transformation? Here we outline key considerations to kick-start your projects in the New Year.

Human-first approach

Digital transformation has always been challenging, and with 68% of enterprises not achieving their ROI (1) it can seem daunting even at the best of times. One of the biggest barriers to digital transformation is staff uptake and adoption of new technology; therefore, prioritising engagement and education will help with success.
Every organisation has different attitudes towards change, and the management of this is highly nuanced. However, the reasons for resistance can be broadly categorised(2) into the following;

Inertia

What is this?
Resistance to change when there is no obvious motivator for doing things differently.

Example reactions
“Don’t fix what’s not broken.”

Turn this around
Take the staff on a journey and show the vision. Then, if appropriate, explain the market forces creating the need to transform, such as customer trends and competitor activities.

Doubt

What is this?
If the need for change is obvious, staff can doubt the organisation’s capability. This will be pronounced if there have been transformation failures at the organisation with a similar scope.

Example reactions
“We’ve tried something like this before but….”

Turn this around
Demonstrate the learnings from previous projects and the changes and considerations made for the new digital transformation. Introduce the project team and provide opportunities for dialogue and collaboration.

Cynicism

What is this?
Suppose a transformation project is new for the company. In that case, some staff members can still resist due to factors such as not favouring the leadership/ project team and the feeling of their autonomy being challenged.

Example reactions
“I just feel like this project is…

Turn this around
Be clear about reasons for transformation and be firm about roles and expectations, including opportunities for feedback. Demonstrate success frequently, showing impact and ensuring the digital roadmap includes quick wins and minimum viable products.

Insecurity

What is this?
Digital transformation can automate steps and processes, creating uncertainties for the staff impacted, especially regarding the longevity of their roles.

Example reactions
“Isn’t this my job?”

Turn this around
Consult with staff that the transformation will impact heavily, including how their roles may evolve. Be as transparent as possible and highlight new opportunities that will be created due to the transformation, or the support available during the transition phase.

Big picture roadmap, low-hanging fruit milestones

The best transformation is about resolving pain points in the business that can change the paradigm. With project sponsors often in the C-Suite, companies need to be mindful that an overly top-down approach to implementation can cause friction and resistance. A well-designed digital roadmap involves input from all stakeholders across the organisation that plays a part in achieving goals and objectives – from executives that set the strategic direction to end-users of the digital product. At BBT, we always recommend designing roadmaps that minimise risks and have built-in opportunities to learn, adapt and resolve low-hanging pain points early on to gain buy-ins.

Our final two cents:

Technology is rarely the barrier to digital transformation, and taking your staff on a journey is equally important to ensure project success. With a volatile 2023, digital managers will need to invest more time in developing empathy for staff that are implementing or affected by the change. By taking a well-considered and proactive approach, the new year is ripe for the bold to turn obstacles into opportunities.

Did you enjoy this article? You might also like our e-book Turn obstacles into opportunities: Five digital priorities of 2023

 

 

(1) “68% Of Enterprises Fail To Achieve Desired ROI On Digital Transformation, And Most
Cite Change Resistance As Key Obstacle | Press Release – Everest Group.” Everest Group,
May 5, 2021. https://www.everestgrp.com/2021-05-https-www-everestgrp-com-2021-05-
68-of-enterprises-fail-to-achieve-desired-roi-on-digital-transformation-and-most-cite-changeresistance-
as-key-obstacle-press-release-html-.html.

(2) Viki, Tendayi. “The Three Human Barriers To Digital Transformation.” Forbes, September 23,
2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/tendayiviki/2018/09/23/the-three-human-barriers-todigital-
transformation/.

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