Digital transformation is the topic on the lips of business leaders across Australia. But it seems their words don’t always translate into action.

At Tecala we’ve seen many examples of organisations who know they need to change to meet the challenges of the digital era. But we have also witnessed the challenge that many face simply in getting started on their transformation journey.

These barriers are many, and for those who face them, they often seem insurmountable. But as an organisation that has also helped many businesses along their digital transformation journey, we’ve learned a trick or two when it comes to making those barriers a little easier to overcome.

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Lack of vision

A lot of business leaders know they need to change their organisation. But when it comes to planning, seeing into next month can be hard enough, let alone trying to envision business conditions 3 years out and make sensible decisions about where and how they should invest.

We’ve found two strategies that can help here. Firstly, business leaders need to get out of their own business and look to other industries that might have already faced similar challenges. A strategy that helps a business in one industry can also benefit companies in adjacent industries. We see this most often in the form of manufacturers who are seeking to go direct to consumers and adopting lessons from the retail sector along the way.

Secondly, they should look to bring in external thinking. The number of permutations and possibilities surfaced in the digital era make it impossible for any business owner to know all the options. And while external consultants may not know the business as well as those working in it, they can raise questions that force closer examination of systems and processes that may have been unchallenged for years.

Related article: The Biggest Change in Business Isn't a Technological One

Lack of skills 

It is very hard to change a business without changing people, and harder still when the future state requires skills the business doesn’t have. Skills mapping is an essential step in transformation, as it enables management to determine the skills the organisation will need in its future state and map these against those it already has. Leaders can determine which roles can be filled through training and which can be achieved via hiring, and where they might also seek to partner with external organisations.

The wrong technology

This is almost inevitable, especially in mid-tier enterprises who tend to sweat their technology long past its used-by date. The digital era demands greater responsiveness from IT, and many aging systems simply can’t provide it. At Tecala we’ve seen countless examples of organisations that are paying through the nose to maintain technology that should have been junked years ago. The good news today though is that shifting workloads to the cloud enables a business to get a modern, flexible environment without the need for large capital investments.

Lack of funds

Perhaps the most common barrier to transformation is ‘we can’t afford it’. But transformation is a process, not a project, and it isn’t necessary to transform the whole business in one go. Picking small projects that deliver quick wins – such as moving IT workloads onto cheaper cloud infrastructure – can free up working capital that can then be reinvested in further transformation initiatives.

Lack of urgency 

For mid-tier businesses, there is always something that needs to be done urgently, from hiring staff to managing customers to fixing problems. It’s easy then for long term strategies to keep getting pushed onto the backburner. At Tecala we know from experience that every day a company delays charting a path to the future is another day’s head start it gives to its competitors.

The barriers to change may seem great, but every day there are Australian businesses that are taking the plunge and moving forward into their digital future. They accept that change won’t come overnight, and may even involve taking the odd risk or two.

But if the risk in change outweighs the perceived benefit, will there come a time when the equation flips? And if so, when do you want to change – when you can do it on your own terms, or when you’ve run out of other options? 

 

Posted on April 29, 2019

in Leadership, Digital transformation

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