Digital Transformation Is Like A Body Transformation: There Are No Quick Fixes!

Digital Transformation Is Like A Body Transformation: There Are No Quick Fixes!
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In this guest post, CEO and MD of Aquient, Jimmy Storrier (pictured below), says CV-19 will hasten brands to move to digital transformation. But, he adds, much like working on your new body, there’s no “quick fix” pill you can take…

Companies in traditional industries are being faced with a choice: adapt or die. The global COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted us all has made this clearer than ever before. Companies who struggled to meet the demands of their Millennial and now Gen-Z customer base before COVID-19 are going to find it even harder afterwards.

So much of digital transformation up until now has been almost forced upon companies who have begrudgingly dragged themselves into the 21st Century by buying some new software and calling it “mission complete”. Very few businesses have truly transformed how they do business to keep pace with their customers’ expectations.

There’s hardly been an excuse. The past 10 years since the global financial crisis has seen unprecedented economic growth which should have left most businesses with healthy balance sheets. Those with accumulated capital or access to debt will move quickly on the true digital disruption coming, as opposed to the false start efforts of the last 10 years and look to M&A opportunities. The focus as the world returns to business as usual, and it will return, will no longer be on cost-cutting but true investment in innovation via digital transformation.

This is no longer about disrupting your Business-As-Usual internally by being forced to use some new analytics software by a zealous CTO. This is about disrupting your existing business model, even your entire industry, massively improving your customer experience.

If your business isn’t thinking digital first, with everything else it does in support (but still important), your business will be unlikely to survive the next decade.

This is where digital transformation becomes like body transformation.

Maintaining our health is difficult. In a world of constant abundance, we all know that eating and whatever we want, when we want, leads to adverse health outcomes.

It’s no secret that a lot of people with the best of intentions fail in maintaining health standards they set for themselves. This isn’t for lack of options and flexibility. There are an almost infinite number of ways to create a healthy body today.

And so it is with digital transformation. I’ve been unfortunate enough to bear witness to a number of failed digital transformation initiatives. Unfortunately, the numbers still aren’t declining, even with best intentions. Company leadership in many cases talks a big game but isn’t prepared for the investment of effort, time and money that’s required to drive true, fundamental change.

Software vendors in the market today promising to transform your business “out of the box” aren’t helping, just like the personal trainer walking the floor at the gym who can solve all your health problems with a gym membership.

Even if you go ahead and buy that gym membership, that in itself doesn’t lead to a body transformation. It’s the months or even years of hard work YOU put in at the gym that make the difference. The personal trainer won’t tell you that the journey will be painful and arduous. There will be false starts and periods of regression. No-one wants to hear it – that doesn’t sell gym memberships after all.

It requires effort, focus, persistence, motivation and no small part of personal attitude change to stop being the person you are and start acting like the person you want to become. That mountain isn’t a simple one to climb, but it is achievable. Anyone who has gone through this process also know there are no quick results. It’s often months of hard work before any noticeable change occurs, which can be de-motivating.

By way of contrast, many CMOs, CTOs and even CEOs today are buying gym memberships (software) and expecting immediate results, holding a Spanish Inquisition held when business transformation isn’t immediately apparent – finding anyone and everyone to blame for the lack of results: vendors, partners, consultants or even internal teams.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but change comes from the top. Failure in these transformational endeavours can only be attributed to the most senior levels of leadership. The reimagined company needs the full support of senior leaders to be successful and an understanding that this journey will take time and almost all of the energy and attention of the business, at all levels. It isn’t an initiative that gets crossed off the To-Do list.

Yes, you’ll still need to buy the gym membership: that’s your pathway to success. The technology and the services around implementing the technology get you on to the starting block, but then approach this like you would a body transformation.

It’s the years of laser focus, constant innovation, improvement, optimisation and transformation that come next that matter and will ultimately mean the difference between success and failure.

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Jimmy Storrier

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