5 digital transformations traps companies should avoid

Although companies might be eager to become more digital, it is easy to find those efforts thwarted. Here are five situations that could emerge during the digital transformation process that businesses should seek to avoid.


Businesses are continually being asked to ‘become more digital’, which of course, goes beyond having the latest gadgets, to imbuing the organisation’s culture to think and act (more) digitally. However, even with the very best of intentions, it is easy for the digital transformation process to be derailed. Below, we highlight five traps to avoid.

1.  Being overly cautious

Although it goes without saying that a business should not be reckless in the decisions it makes or how it operates, within the context of digital transformation, it is easy to find oneself at the other extreme. To some degree, it is possible to plot out the system and process changes that would need to be made, but there ought to be an appreciation that with change, there is an element of risk. Further, implementing incremental changes are unlikely to result in the transformation desired. A certain comfort with risk – in order to implement bold and innovative strategies – is essential when trying to revolutionise the status quo.

2. Underestimating time to generate results

More often than not, businesses underestimate the amount of time needed for changes to produce real and meaningful results. Frequently, an overly optimistic picture is communicated to secure support for the proposed changes, and when coupled with an overly cautious posture, it is easy to find oneself concerned that the changes made are not generating the desired results fast enough.

In such a panicked state, additional and major changes tend to be implemented, in the hope of improving the perceived situation, but could ultimately hinder or undermine the results that could have been realised – if one had only stayed the course.

3.  Underestimating time to build capacity

In many organisations, consultants are engaged to lead a digital transformation initiative, but little attention is paid to the staff, who eventually will need to take over once the consultancy ends. In that regard, many businesses do not put adequate capacity building programmes in place for their staff – to better manage after the digital transformation has been implemented. More importantly, they also underestimate the time required to build competency.

Effecting a digital transformation may mean that new (digital) talent must be brought into the organisation to satisfy the changing roles and expertise. Frequently, this need is not clearly established, nor is it given the requisite attention, in order to ensure that the business is properly resourced to satisfy its changed environment and imperatives.

4.  Undisciplined business culture

Although we might be able to point out many successful businesses in our local market, upon closer scrutiny, and in the Caribbean, for example, many of them are very relaxed about the systems and processes they have implemented. The rigour – such as intensive data collection, reporting and analysis – is not done.  Hence, many business leaders have not inculcated a culture of being systematic in their approach managing their businesses, in order to be able to not only track the impact of digital initiatives, but also to hold themselves and their teams more accountable.

5.  No stamina to pivot and adjust

Finally, the initial changes made as part of the digital transformation process are likely to be seen as new and exciting, but the disruption to the status quo could also cause a lot of resistance and resentment, which would need to be managed. Further, after the first waves of excitement of the new implementation has worn off, the team might be eager for things to settle down and become predictable.

It is important to guard against the inertia that could also emerge, which may cause the business to no longer keep its ‘eye on the ball’, and so not be prepared to refine systems and processes that could improve its operations, along with staff and customer experience. Essentially, and in the digital transformation space, agility and responsiveness are crucial, and should be actively nurtured in the organisation’s culture.


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