The Secret to Digital Transformation: Fail Fast to Find Success

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By TJ Lundeen
Sales & Marketing Specialist

No business can undergo a digital transformation without making some mistakes.

A successful digital transformation is the product of countless hours of planning, execution, and tweaks to find the perfect balance of functionality and design to achieve a goal using technology.

But, for every successful digital transformation, there are hundreds of ideas that were tried and scrapped for one reason or another. Successful organizations embrace the process of failing and learning, while other organizations may hide the evidence and altogether quit a project after a few missteps.

Why should I embrace failure?

In the business world, failure is a term used in hushed tones. To put it simply, failure costs money and time, each of which is at a premium for businesses. Companies like Blockbuster, Kodak, and Blackberry are excellent examples of large-scale businesses that we're afraid to fail and didn’t capitalize on digitizing their businesses. Now, we look to Netflix, Canon, and Apple for products and services in a digital platform.

In the digital world, failure is a tool used to move ideas forward and can be seen as an asset in digital transformations.

The “fail fast” model allows businesses to deploy quick pilots to check the outcome before investing more resources into an idea. If the pilot works, the company can go all-in on an idea. If the pilot flops, it’s on to the next one with little lost and knowledge gained.

Trust the process and be willing to adjust

Research on digital transformation shows that less than 30 percent succeed in their original form with goals to improve performance and create long-term change. Breaking down this statistic further, digital transformations by tech-savvy companies succeed at about a 25 percent rate, while industries like automotive, infrastructure and pharmaceuticals sit between 4 and 11 percent success rates.

For many of these organizations, the investment into a digital transformation came with goals of digitizing a process, upgrading digital tools, or creating automation within a workflow. While these goals may help kickstart a digital transformation, successful organizations know changing course mid-transformation might be the easiest option forward.

Take Starbucks as an example. In 2010, the coffee giant tested adding beer and wine to its menu to diversify its product offerings. Once the company realized mixing alcohol sales with its business-driven customer base didn’t mix well, they entirely scrapped the idea. Rather than sticking by a concept because it invested time and money into it, the company saw it erred in its decision and scrapped the idea.

Taking those same principles into a digital decision can have a big impact on the business. The thoughts and ideas at the beginning of a digital transformation may be entirely different once the process kicks off, yet the end result might be a better use of time and money that achieves the goals put in place by leadership.

As your business looks at taking on a digital transformation, be that migration to Office 365, a move to automating processes, or a fresh new website to reach your audience more effectively, consider the risks and rewards of your change. Progress can be defined in many ways, even a partial failure can help your organization move forward. Embrace the challenge and find success in your innovation.

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