Digital evolution vs Digital transformation: How businesses can prevent digital transformation failure

By Nej Gakenyi, CEO and Founder of GRM Digital.

  • 4 months ago Posted in

The influx of new digital technologies revolutionising workflows and processes across a range of industries has led many businesses to embark on their digital transformation journeys. Yet over 84% of these digital transformation journeys fail.


Digital transformation has often been treated as a project, with a clear beginning, middle and end, but this should not be the case. The digital transformation of any business must be approached as an ongoing investment, continually evolving and adapting to the latest tools and strategies. The inherent nature of digital transformation means it cannot be finished, so by approaching this as a digital evolution with an infinite mindset, businesses can recognise the process not as an event, but as a flexible innovation that will grow alongside the business.


A study by McKinsey & Company found that only 16% of large digital transformation initiatives succeed in achieving their desired outcomes. This is, in part, due to the approach and mindset of the business. The high failure rate of digital transformation initiatives stems from the lack of understanding of the vital stages of any digital evolution journey. This begins with the digitisation of all documents and data within a business, before incorporating the digitalisation of all processes and workflows through digital procedures. And finally, there is infinite digital evolution, the process of enabling employees within a business to continually evolve, optimise and innovate by using the latest digital processes.


Dispelling this finite project mindset is key to ensuring a successful digital evolution for any business.


Defining a business’s digital evolution mindset

Outlining your business's approach to digital evolution is vital to beginning a digital transformation journey. C-suite executives and IT teams must be aligned on their views of digitising their business, will this be a long-term commitment, or simply a one-off project? And this is where many businesses fall at the first hurdle.


For any business to reap the benefits of a digital transformation journey, it first needs to view this as an evolution, a continuous process that is constantly evolving and adapting along with the company as both grow together.


By establishing a digital evolution journey, IT teams can begin to ensure that c-suite executives and decision-makers are committed to a long-term investment in not only digitising their business processes but also continually adapting and implementing new technologies to stay abreast of the competition.


Digital evolution begins with changing this finite mindset, encouraging people to optimise and innovate their internal processes and fostering an ethos of continuous perpetual innovation at all levels of business. Shifting from a finite to an infinite mindset is what will set businesses apart and once this mindset shift has been embedded within stakeholders, the C-suite and decision-maker level, this can then permeate through all levels of a company. It a digital evolution journey is not adopted at the decision-marker/board level, it is never likely to succeed.



Creating a continuous culture of innovation

As with any new technologies, creators are constantly evolving and innovating, and this is the same with a business’s digital evolution.


Once a business’s mindset has been challenged and changed, IT teams can begin their digital evolution process. Firstly, by creating a digital foundation, digitising and digitalising files, processes, and data throughout the company. Once this foundation has been secured, IT managers can look to implement stage two of their digital evolution, a siloed innovative effort across parts of a business. This process will look at the technologies in use across the company and create new ways to utilise these technologies to transform the organisation.


Following this, the third stage is to begin partial synchronisation across the various departments, allowing departments to collaborate and show what has worked well for them and what hasn’t during their digital evolution journey. Now, the fourth stage is where many businesses fail, there is no end point with digital evolution, so the job is not done once stage three is complete.


Digital transformation is an evolving journey, a digital evolution, that needs to be continuously assessed and challenged. So, developing a continuous culture of constant innovation provides employees with the opportunity to take risks, be creative and not base success solely on KPIs but to analyse their progress by looking at their ROI and their competitor evaluation.


How to adapt to a 2024 business landscape

2024 is set to be very different to previous years and the business landscape will continue to change, alongside the creation of new technologies and advancements in tools, such as data analytics, AI and digital evolution.


If businesses focus on alignment, balance, and consistent perpetual innovation in 2024, more organisations will look to adopt a composable approach. Adopting breathable technologies that can adapt and evolve with businesses will be vital this year. Flexibility is the key to digital evolution and those businesses who adopt a composable architecture approach will not only see a significant return on investment but will reap the benefits of a successful beginning to their digital evolution journey.

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