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Imagine your company is a vehicle on a cross-country road trip. Your employees are all on board, taking responsibility for driving, navigation, supplies, maintenance and serving customers. Your customers are the passengers, or perhaps the people along your path who are waiting for you to deliver products and services.
Your company might have been operating smoothly for a long time, with each team member comfortable in their routines. But then things started to change. Competitors started adding flashy rims to their tires, or using turbo-chargers to get ahead. Customers started asking for deliveries to their door, rather than meeting you at a standard stop. And every day, your vehicle is expected to travel farther, react faster, be more accessible and add new capabilities, without ever slowing down.
This is digital transformation in a nutshell.
It’s no wonder that 86% of enterprise decision-makers believe they have two years or less to make progress with digital transformation, before they start falling behind their competitors. And yet, many companies are struggling with making that progress – or even getting started!
What’s the hold-up?
Part of the problem is certainly complexity. The term “digital transformation” covers a lot of ground, in terms of both technology and company culture. Its exact meaning for you will depend on your company’s unique circumstances, but there are some commonalities.
Consider the following IT spending priorities:
- Mobile Applications
- Cloud Migration
- Cybersecurity/Incident Response
- Customer-Facing Digital Apps
- Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning
- Core Infrastructure Design
- Upgrade/Decommission Legacy Systems
- Ecosystem Integration/Interoperability
Salesforce.com’s 2016 State of IT report shows that more than 50% of IT leaders plan to increase spending in each of these areas. Many of those budget dollars will be allocated in the pursuit of digital transformation, but budget alone does not guarantee success.
There is another big problem which can hold your company back from successful digital transformation: internal resistance to change. Internal sources of resistance are easy to overlook, but can quietly derail even the most promising initiatives.
Organizational Silos Can Stunt Growth
Organizational silos represent a near-universal source of internal resistance to change, especially the kind of wide-reaching change that digital transformation represents. These divisions evolve naturally. As an enterprise increases in size and complexity, it is necessary to divide decision-making, budgeting and operations responsibilities according to lines of business and functional departments. Once these silos become entrenched in the company culture, however, their established processes and interactions can become rigid, inflexible and ultimately inefficient.
Entrenched silos block visibility into their own internal workings - from stored data, to software instances, to vendor relationships and beyond. They also block inter-departmental communication and cooperation. Internal processes rarely include provisions for change, and so they are strongly resistant to any change imposed from the outside. Moreover, rigid hierarchies prevent the people closest to a problem - or an opportunity - from acting quickly to resolve it for the benefit of the company.
Digital transformation is an ongoing challenge. It’s not enough to push through one change or one initiative. Your organization must also establish a culture of change, which enables your people in every line of business to be as agile as your networks.