Ternary’s thoughts on digital transformation, and why people matter in the process

Digital transformation is insanely hard. Especially for older companies. Yet, it can be done. And the path probably isn’t what you expect.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about how older companies can digitally transform in one piece, without destroying themselves in the process.

It’s still early days for digital transformation in big companies. Another interesting tidbit – “Big, established companies in particular have been slow to embrace digital organizational practices, a recent McKinsey & Co. study found. Only 26% of world-wide sales are made through digital channels and only 30% of internal operations have been digitally automated, according to the study.” 

This echoes what we see in the wild. Most bigger companies are in the middle of changing direction with their digital practices, and it will take many years for this transition to yield change. Again, the biggest barrier to change are the embedded habits and culture. This means CIO/CTOs in big companies need to focus as much or more on getting visible wins that will get the support of laggards within various parts of the company.

Most critically, take time to focus on the culture and the organization. Just as important – don’t mistake new tools and technology for digital transformation. We’ve seen this happen quite often – a hot technology is seen as the cure-all for a business. Several months after introduction, this once hot technology is highly unpopular, and the person who introduced it is either equally unpopular, or already working at another company. Political and organizational capital must be grown carefully and wisely invested.

The punchline – Move Slowly. Solve the biggest pain points first. Don’t try to do everything at once.


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