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Skills & Capabilities for a Successful Digital Transformation

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how organizations that were digitally mature proved to be more successful in times of crisis compared to others. As a result, many organizations are shuffling to digitally transform their businesses to be more future-proof.

However, transformations, especially digital transformations are challenging and the success rate is alarmingly low. Organizations must prepare to overcome various barriers to change and identify new skills and capabilities required to succeed in the digital era. Reinventing processes goes beyond simply investing in innovative technology. Long-term change and success require a fundamental shift in people and culture across the entire organization.

The Challenges of a Digital Transformation

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace at which organizations reinvent their processes and made digital initiatives a top priority for leaders across industries. A study by Deloitte found that 85% of leaders surveyed had hastened their digital transformations as a result of the pandemic. However, according to a study by BCG, 70% of digital transformation efforts fail to meet their goals.

Leaders are reluctant to invest in digital transformations due to their complex nature and the rarity of success. A study by McKinsey found that only 16% of participants surveyed believed their digital transformation efforts led to improved performance and lasting change. Other organizations in the study saw enhanced performance but were unable to sustain it in the long-term. Additionally, a survey by Bain discovered that only 5% of organizations that attempted digital transformations met their objectives.

One major barrier to success is people within an organization and their unwillingness to conform to new behaviors and ways of working. A study by Forbes found that 36% of respondents cited the lack of  talent as a challenge to their digital transformations. Often, leaders tend to overlook the overarching systematic changes required for a successful transformation and focus solely on integrating new technology.

According to a study by Deloitte, 87% of participants recognized that they lacked the right leaders to fully leverage industry 4.0 solutions.

Deloitte

It can be challenging for businesses to determine skills needed in the digital era. A study by Gartner found that 53% of participants lacked the ability to identify the new skills needed, hindering workforce transformation.

Additionally, a successful digital transformation requires the right kind of leadership, a clear strategy, and buy-in from individuals from every level in an organization. According to a study by Deloitte, 87% of participants recognized that they lacked the right leaders to fully leverage industry 4.0 solutions.

Successful Digital Transformations & The Human Element

Instead of focusing on technology, leaders need to realize the role of individuals within an organization and their impact on digital transformation efforts. The human element is tied to the success of an organization’s digital transformation. A study by Gartner found that hiring the right talent to carry out a digital transformation was a key priority for leaders in 2020.

The pandemic forced businesses to rethink their existing structures and re-evaluate skills needed to succeed. While technology is important, organizations that invest in technology but neglect to invest in their people will fail to see the full potential of going digital. A study by McKinsey highlighted developing talent and skills as one of the most important factors for success of digital transformation initiatives. Businesses need to hire employees with the right combination of hard skills and soft skills to utilize technology and achieve desired results. Additionally, it is essential to leverage data to drive decision-making within an organization.

Technology is constantly evolving and individuals within an organization need to be able to adapt. In a survey by Deloitte, 72% of participants cited people’s adaptability and ability to adjust and conform to different roles as an essential skill to overcome uncertain environments. It is imperative for businesses to invest in individuals that are willing to evolve according to their firm’s transformation objectives instead of resisting to change. Additionally, organizations that invest in digital talent early-on are more likely to see positive results. A study by BCG showed that investors encouraged 50% of businesses to further invest in digital capabilities and technology.

Leaders also play a critical role in the success of a digital transformation. HBR cites leadership as the determining factor to success. Commitment to change must occur from top and trickle down to the bottom. A study by McKinsey discovered that organizations with a Chief Digital Officer were 1.6x more successful than ones without this role. Additionally, it is essential to have a clear and integrated strategy in place where goals are shared by everyone in the organization. A study by McKinsey found that companies with a clear roadmap in place were 1.7x more likely to have digital transformations that surpassed their expectations compared to those without a clear set of goals.

Companies with successful digital transformations will experience various benefits including increased efficiency, improved performance, increased revenues and enhanced customer experience compared to those that fail to adapt.  

Future Outlook

Companies with successful digital transformations will reap various benefits including increased efficiency, productivity, and enhanced performance. Additionally, these organizations will experience continued growth as they leverage new technology and will be more resilient to future shocks compared to laggards.

Digital transformations are challenging as they require an inherent shift in people in culture across the entire organization. However, with the right leadership and strategy coupled with executive-driven teams, businesses can achieve success.

Skills & Capabilities for a Successful Digital Transformation
Adeel Mankee (COO, Triple Tree Solutions)
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Published 29. September 2021