The continued shift to as-a-service business models in an increasingly globalised economy has generated a highly competitive world in which digital transformation (DX) efforts can and will fail without the right strategy.

While technology may be at the heart of every DX project, IT modernisation is not a magic wand for digital transformation. The success of any project ultimately relies on a multitude of factors. One of the most important is buy-in from stakeholders, who must understand how the transformation will directly benefit them. The human element cannot be neglected by organisations aspiring to future-proof their operations.

Speaking to more than 100 CIOs and DX project heads in leadership forums across Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), the team at Boomi has heard numerous stories of projects going over budget, taking too long and, in some cases, being shelved altogether. These projects fall far short of the speed and agility needed for successful digital transformation, especially important given the hyperspeed of today’s business world.

However, speed and agility in projects hinge on the human factor, which is often overlooked at the onset of a DX project, as noted in a new Dell Boomi executive brief, “Why Digital Transformation Projects Fail: Three Winning Steps for Every CIO.” Projects are delivered by people for people. Therefore, managing expectations for a mindset shift across the organisation and providing people with tools to help them become more productive is a critical factor in a project’s success.

The Cultural Transformation Paradox

As detailed in our executive brief, a survey of 130 ANZ digital leaders conducted by ADAPT found that business silos and lack of collaboration are the primary barriers to business agility, cited by 54 per cent of respondents. In fact, this scored higher than the barrier of legacy systems and processes, which was nominated by 49 per cent.

The prominence of cultural issues as a critical barrier to transformation does not bode well for those professionals who are already grappling with an increasingly complex DX agenda. The challenge is complicated if a cultural transformation roadmap with proper change management measures isn’t embedded in DX projects from the start. Attempting to manage change once a transformation project has commenced is a recipe for failure.

Stakeholder buy-in also depends on minimising or even eliminating “shadow IT,” by which business units deploy their own applications typically without IT’s knowledge or control. Instead, business units should be empowered to pursue and purchase their own as-a-service solutions, in collaboration with IT. Success increases with integration technology that allows various applications to talk to each other quickly and easily, breaking silos to create a connected business that drives productivity and innovation.

The Afterthought of Agile Integration

In the ADAPT survey, digital leaders nominated their top investment priorities as being customer journey solutions, and website content and experience. This is the reason application integration is being viewed in a new light. Historically an afterthought, application integration was nominated as a top priority by 88 per cent of respondents. But application integration across an organisation has little chance of succeeding if the culture of the organisation is working against it.

The ADAPT findings align with earlier research conducted by Vanson Bourne for Boomi. The Boomi study found that 91 per cent of IT decision makers in ANZ recognised the need to improve connectivity within their organisations, but also found that 50 per cent of organisations were having trouble doing so.

Furthermore, 89 per cent had experienced drawbacks as a result of poor integration, in the form of unreliable applications, financial loss and efficiency downturns, and poor workflow efficiency, Boomi’s study found. The impact of these failures was demonstrated by the 59 percent of respondents who admitted they knew their organisation had missed opportunities due to poor integration.

So how can organisations avoid digital transformation failures? Stay tuned for the second of this two-part series on DX success and read the new executive brief, “Why Digital Transformation Projects Fail: Three Winning Steps for Every CIO.”

About the author

Tania Mushtaq is the head of marketing Asia Pacific and Japan for Dell Boomi which is a member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members contribute their insights and expertise for the benefit of our readers. Membership fees apply.

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