Let’s admit it: Digital transformation doesn’t work

Post • 4 min read

According to Gartner research, 94% of CEOs want to maintain or accelerate pandemic-driven digital transformation. And yet, depending on which analyst or research house you consult, the digital transformation failure rate ranges between 70% and 95%. 

This begs the question – is digital transformation actually the right approach now? Or are we in an ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ situation?

Spoiler alert: the emperor is naked

Remember The Emperor’s New Clothes, the famous folktale by Hans Christian Andersen? 

In a nutshell, the plot revolves around an emperor who is convinced to spend loads of money on magnificent clothes, which are supposedly invisible to people who aren’t clever or capable. No one wants to admit they can’t see the clothes, so everyone goes along with the fantasy that the emperor is lavishly robed. Until he parades through the streets – and a child shouts out that the emperor is naked. Everyone realises they’ve been fooled, but the emperor continues his procession pretending all is well.

See what I mean?

Are we in a position where people are too nervous to question the digital transformation drive? 

And is the C-suite marching on pretending all is well, despite the evidence?

Let’s look at the reality

Most CxOs you have (or will ever) meet are disappointed with digital transformation 

There are many reasons for this, but common denominators tend to be that they:

  • See their implementation partner as having failed, whether that partner is internal or external
  • Feel they’ve been lied to about timelines, costs and/or the capex/opex split
  • Have been blinded by jargon to the point where they struggle to keep track of what’s real and going to deliver tangible results

That nirvana state of being ‘an agile company’ doesn’t exist

Digital transformation always seems to be about ‘becoming agile’ and ‘harnessing innovation’.

Now think about it. How many companies do you know that regularly operate with these characteristics?

The fact is, these phrases don’t really mean anything. If they’re realised to any degree, it’s usually due to blind luck rather than strategic excellence.

People don’t care how your cool stuff works

This is a hard truth to stomach, but it’s a truth nonetheless. No matter how excited you are about your digital innovations, others don’t really care about them. Instead, they care about how those innovations:

  • Make their life easier
  • Help them get their job done better/faster
  • Can be used to impress their boss/colleagues/customers 
  • Help them hit their targets/secure their bonus

Because companies invest so much in digital transformation, they get wrapped up in promoting it internally and externally to justify the effort and expense. But in the battle for competitive advantage, market share and talent, this is akin to taking a knife to a gunfight. 

Why is this the reality?

Digital transformation can’t keep up with the pace of innovation

CxOs end up perennially frustrated with digital transformation projects because they aren’t the right way to win that battle for competitive advantage, market share and talent. The frustrations are rooted in the fact that – however much you want the emperor to be parading in finery – the gold and ermine don’t exist.

And by the time you’ve committed to that lovely image of gold and ermine, customers and talent are looking for diamonds and platinum anyway. So if you carry on pushing digital transformation, you’ll always be a day late and a dollar short.

But if not digital transformation, what??

Quantum computing and analog transformation

Quantum computing is one of the biggest ever shifts in innovation, and it’s almost purely analog. Through quantum computing, services – be they microservices, applications or analytics – will develop at a rate that makes the last 10 years look like the 1900s. To put the pace in perspective – there’s probably been as much tech change in the last 5 years as there has been since the dawn of time.

Instead of getting bogged down in digital transformation that doesn’t work, the effort and investment are better spent starting an analog transformation – so the business is ready for quantum computing.

How do you get ready for quantum computing?

The general approach involves creating back-end systems that are good listeners – that, through effective DevSecOps, evolve themselves to enable people to innovate. That way, you’re not asking people to keep changing, you’re giving them a tech foundation that continually serves up the processes and systems they need in the moment.

The next article will go into this in more detail, so click the button and read on:

Cormac WalshLinkedInGlobal Industry Leader - Aerospace
Kris Soderlund
Kris SoderlundLinkedInGlobal FSI Lead

Get in Touch.

Let’s discuss how we can help with your cloud journey. Our experts are standing by to talk about your migration, modernisation, development and skills challenges.

Cormac Walsh
Cormac Walsh LinkedIn
Global Industry Leader - Aerospace
Kris Soderlund
Kris Soderlund LinkedIn
Global FSI Lead