Innovation SOP: Overcoming the Hurdles of Innovation in Digital Transformation

Welcome back to Qmarkets’ Innovation Standard Operating Procedures (SOP): In this series, we will present different guidelines on how to bring innovation theory to practice. Digital Transformation is something that everyone needs to do, but is not always carried out properly, for a number of very different reason. This week, we take a look at the obstacles standing in the way of innovation in digital transformation and provide a strategy for your own successful digital transformation.

One of the major reasons some businesses have failed (so far) in their attempt in digital transformation, is the fact that their core operations remain “analogue,” so to speak, while they are simply digitally optimizing sections of their business (such as transferring files to digital media, adding company websites, etc.)

The successes that can be achieved with innovation in digital transformation have already been documented and analyzed. The question is, how do companies overcome the hurdles that stand before them? And what are the hurdles?

Innovation in Digital Transformation - Bain Brief
Source: Orchestrating a Successful Digital Transformation, Bain Brief

“Let’s get digital”

Unfortunately, saying that and clapping your hands together doesn’t get the job done. There are a lot of factors to consider, especially when your company is large, employees a great number of people, and its philosophy was etched a long time ago. A digital transformation for such a company would be a slow, deliberate, and costly process, though there are several standout examples concerning large companies that have made the digital transformation. GE, for example, is one of them.

Don’t stay on the wrong side of digital disruption

What do beef sellers, software retailers and taxi services have in common? Their traditional “brick and mortar” businesses have been disrupted by digital or online businesses. These businesses were quick to adapt themselves to digital transformation, or grown directly into it, such as the case with Uber or Airbnb. They’ve disrupted the traditional way of their businesses and can offer services anywhere and on most platforms.

On the retail side, you have Domino’s Pizza: You wouldn’t think a pizza chain would need something so fanciful as “digital transformation,” but it did, in its own creative way: Domino’s created a service allowing customers to order from anywhere, using almost any device: laptop, messaging apps, via smart TV app, even by voice or while in the car. Not only is this a literal, digital transformation of its services, but Domino’s knows that if they don’t offer it- its competitors will.

Innovation in Digital Transformation - Domino's Anyware
Domino’s Pizza embraced digital transformation, letting you order from nearly every form of digital or mobile device

Key Hurdles to Innovation in Digital Transformation:

While there are reasons for digital transformation, there is no shortage of reasons why the process can fail, chiefly among them:

leadershipAbsence of leadership and support: because digital transformation has to occur at the core of the company’s beliefs, it needs the support and ‘push’ of its top executives. If it doesn’t – there’s no one to push the agenda, nobody to see it through, and so it is doomed to fail. It also requires changing the mindset of current employees. This maybe easier done with the younger generation, who maybe more digitally inclined, but might prove difficult with veteran employees, even management-level, who, until now, have been accustomed to ‘certain ways.’

budgetLack of budget and/or resources: so the company has the initial willingness to transform digitally – fine and good. What if there’s no budget? What if there’s a budget only to begin the process but not -sustain it?

ideasthoughtLittle or no expertise: unlike start up companies, or companies that grew up in the past decade or so, chances that older companies have enough experienced staff to handle a digital transformation are probably slim to none, so experts should be brought in from outside, not only to lead the process but also to train the current group of employees. Fear of change is also part of the challenge.

securitySecurity issues: when implementing new technological or digital systems, there’s always a chance for a glitch that might expose sensitive data, which could seriously compromise customers, as well as the reputation of the company.

customersNot understanding the customer: The customer, or user experience, is usually the bottom line. With the Internet revolution, the customer now expects personalized suggestions and/or solutions to his queries. Companies that fail to understand that are left far behind. Because everything is so immediate and within reach – even from a mobile device – if the company can’t reach the consumer that way, another company will.

Steps for a successful digital transformation:

Digital Transformation Blog Icon 1

Pinpoint your current situation and objective:What are the company’s values? What is the business model? Customer expectations? How will the ideal customer look like? What will be the objective(s) of the transformation?

Digital Transformation Blog Icon 2Build digital capabilities: That includes hiring the right personnel to oversee the digital transformation process, training and help change the company culture, as well as enhancing the digital infrastructure to that will have the capabilities to meet the demands of the overall objectives – and quickly adapt to newer innovations “on the fly.”

Digital Transformation Blog Icon 3Create a broad roadmap: From where you are to where you want to reach. Once you have a new business model that fits the digital transformation program, don’t be afraid of deprioritizing, or even canceling, projects that don’t fit.

Digital Transformation Blog Icon 4Evaluate: What are the company’s strongest assets you should continue to develop or focus on? Who in the company was already clamoring for digital transformation and has the enthusiasm and zeal to lead projects? What hardware or service needs to be upgraded or decommissioned?

Digital Transformation Blog Icon 5Build and grow digital assets: products and services that will be valued by employees and customers and can be translated into “promoters” of the company, such as 24/7 live support via social media (as an example).

Digital Transformation Blog Icon 6Track your progress and performance: Like in many other aspects, inquire what similar companies/competitors are doing and how they are performing the digital transformation. If they are ahead of the game, it’s both a disadvantage and an advantage: you can implement ideas while avoiding possible mistakes.

It’s instructive to read what Starbucks COO Kevin Johnson had to say on the subject, how the company took advantage of what digital transformation had to offer, and where their investments paid off. You can see additional standout examples of digital transformation here. 

Using an idea and innovation management system such as Qmarkets’ Q-max allows you to take the above steps for successful digital transformation and implement them in your own company. Using an intuitive, flexible platform such as Q-max also ensures that your ideation processes are designed  to match your company’s needs, making the process of creating a culture of innovation much easier. Complimenting Q-max with open innovation tools such as Q-open, Q-live and Q-hack will ensure that for each and every step you need to take on your path to digital transformation, you can be sure that you are doing it in the best way possible, taking advantage of the wisdom of the crowds, and engaging both internal and external stakeholders, who all want to see your digital transformation succeed.

To learn more about how Qmarkets can assist your enterprise with innovation in digital transformation, don’t hesitate to organize a free demo with us today:

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