Digital Transformation Projects Have an 84% Chance of Failure; Are You Ready to Failure or Succeed?

Would You Invest If You Knew the Investment Had a High Likelihood of Failure?

If I were to tell you that I had an investment opportunity for you and the probability of you making money was 16% or less, how likely would you be to invest in it? But if I told you that the investment opportunity had a 90% chance of returning your investment, might you be more likely to want to invest?

What’s interesting is that digital transformation is all around us. We can’t help but be impacted in our person lives, from smart phones, smart TVs, apps (think taxi’s vs. Lyft), Siri, Alexa and Google Home. In business, it’s clear that customers want to engage with business in digital and mobile channels. Businesses need to make the transition to be competitive and survive. Yet according to Consultancy.uk* and Bruce Rogers** who wrote Profitable Brilliance: How Professional Service Firms Become Thought Leaders, 84% of businesses undergoing digital transformation are likely to fail. 

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Having been at this game for a while, the statistics reminded me of stats from nearly 20 years ago when the topic was CRM and ERP. Though they are not exactly the same, they have many of the same elements. Digital transformation, innovation and CRM and ERP implementations are IT implementation of people, process and technology. What they have in common is the use of technology to make scalable processes that were once manual. The advantages among many, were higher productivity (cost savings) but also providing better customer-facing experiences (revenue generating.) Going back through my old papers about CRM and ERP failure rates,*** I saw many of the same type of stats predicting similar failure rates for digital transformation projects are being predicted today**** (and by many prominent groups, including IDC, Gartner Group and Forrester Research.)

Things that make you go hmmmm. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

When Will Organizational Change Management and Culture Change Be Taken Seriously?

The stats show since the late 1990’s – early 2000’s until now, when Culture Change (CC), Organizational Change Management (OCM) and Behavioral Change (BC) is missing from a project, there are issues, yet it’s still not “fashionable.” Perhaps the lack of fashionability is from an old paradigm stemming from the command and control type leadership that doesn’t deem people as an important aspect of the business transformation, whether its CRM, ERP or Digital Transformation. Perhaps it stems from leadership that doesn’t know there’s a whole science and set of CC and OCM methodologies that go along with IT implementations. Perhaps they have never been shown the value of that OCM and CC can bring, so they still don’t think it’s important enough to invest in. Perhaps it’s a matter of showing people that it works and makes a difference!

The Time for Change is Now

The 4th industrial revolution challenges most of our existing mental models. What this means is that cultural change is essential to enable and execute successfully, any business / organizational / digital transformation. The key is having a plan, as well as, having developed tools and process for culture change and organizational change management which includes, but is not limited to having a:

  1. Communication plan and regular communication cadence
  2. Leadership and stakeholder involvement and engagement
  3. Training and skill development for the future state of the business and
  4. Organizational readiness and adoption on a continuing basis of the ongoing changes.

And of course, underneath each of these very simplistic groupings is a deep set of assumptions, tools, methodology and business-driven outcomes. So digital transformation isn’t uniquely about technology. It is about having the right digital strategy to ultimately transform a business to achieve higher objectives. This type of digital transformation must be built along with the human capital component, including skill sets, as well as, a cultural adoption of changing the way we do business. So what it boils down to is evolving behaviors within the organization, both from a leadership point of view as well as middle level managers to all employees.

Being Stuck in the OCM Adoption Chasm Will Cause Digital Transformation Failure

What is seems like, referencing one of my favorite people and author’s is Geoffrey Moore. It’s seems that perhaps we are, after twenty or more years of having OCM and CC at our finger tips, we are stuck in the adoption chasm. What we are headed for is the digital transformation iceberg of failure. We know what the iceberg did to the Titanic. We don’t want to be on a sinking ship. So what does an organization need to do? More on all of this in a future post.

@drnatalie

Natalie Petouhoff

VP, Program Executive, ITC | Salesforce.com

References

* Consultancy.uk. “Two Thirds of Digital Transformation Projects Fail” Consultancy.UK. N.p., 28 Sept. 2015. Web. 28 July 2016

**Rogers, Bruce. “Why 84% Of Companies Fail At Digital Transformation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 7 Jan. 2016. Web

*** http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-end-of-corporate-culture-as-we-know-it/

*** http://www.cio.com/article/2440386/supply-chain-management/supply-chain—hershey-s-bittersweet-lesson.html

*** http://customerthink.com/failed_crm_implementation_finally_costs_hp_465_million_in_damages/

*** http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Columns-Departments/The-Tipping-Point/The-Scientific-Reason-for-CRM-Failure-Part-1-42510.aspx

*** http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Columns-Departments/The-Tipping-Point/The-Scientific-Reason-for-CRM-Failure-Part-2-42655.asp

*** http://media.techtarget.com/searchCRM/downloads/CRMUnpluggedch2.pdf

*** http://www.zdnet.com/article/crm-failure-rates-2001-2009/

*** https://hbr.org/2002/02/avoid-the-four-perils-of-crm

*** http://www.infoworld.com/article/2648303/applications/waste-management-sues-sap-over-erp-implementation.html

*** http://www.computerworld.com/article/2517917/enterprise-applications/sap–waste-management-settle-lawsuit.html

*** https://www.google.com/#q=hershey+crm+failure&*

*** http://www.crmsearch.com/crm-failures.php

*** http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Columns-Departments/Insight/A-Succession-of-Failures-70822.aspx

**** https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=US40550115 ; http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3337617 ; https://www.cmo.com.au/article/545992/will_your_business_digital_predator_prey_/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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