Digital transformation: 5 statements that point to potential problems

9 octobre 2023

Digital transformation touches every aspect of a business: people, processes, infrastructure, and customer relationships. Most problems that arise during a transformation process often have their origins in one or more of these aspects. How can you be alert to this?

Digital transformation

Boston Consulting Group investigated digital transformation at 800 global companies. This research revealed that 26 percent of companies fail to achieve half of the set goals and make some long-term impact. 44 percent get some value from digital transformation but don't achieve all goals.

Don't want to be part of this struggling 70 percent? Then be alert to the following five statements on digital transformation:

1. "We need an app"

Or more recently: 'we need an AI-driven chatbot'. The pitfall here is only having an eye for new technology and innovation without making a solid business case. This happens a lot in traditional companies with a top-down hierarchy. The necessary processes and data sources are not properly researched, which means that the technology lands poorly and ultimately brings about little change.

Audi e-experience app

As a gimmick, a shiny new thing can have interesting communication value, such as Audi with the e-experience app that allowed Audi drivers to explore whether an electric car would be right for them. Based on their driving behaviour, they received feedback and advice on whether an electric car would suit their needs, potential CO2 reduction, and the achievable cost savings. This app was the forerunner of the current myAudi app that connects drivers to their Audi.

A practical tool you can use to help you to analyse where a technology stands, and what you can expect from it is Gartner's Hype Cycle, where, for example, generative AI is in the Peak of Inflated Expectations phase.

2. "We'll solve that with technology"

There is a problem and now there is a solution: a CRM, PIM, DAM, CDP or a DXP. It's just a matter of implementing and done, right?

Unfortunately, a fool with a tool is still a fool.

First look at what your customer needs and what the customer experience should be, and then determine the requirements and capabilities . Use the results of your research to build a business case and only then look at technology. The crux of this pitfall is: starting from the technology and then looking in the wrong direction.


Take a webshop for installation materials. As a technical wholesaler, you need product information for this, so the IT department proposes a PIM system. The business side relies entirely on IT, but the implementation is completely technical. All available product data is then put into it and centralised, without looking at the final application: such as a plumber who wants to order one two metre length of copper pipe of and not two tubes of one metre.

Whitepaper: Successful digital transformation

Digital transformation requires deep insight into customer needs, strategic choices and the flexibility to make mistakes and learn from them. Would you like to learn more about successful digital transformation? Then read the whitepaper 'Digital transformation: 5 pitfalls to avoid'.

Digitale trasnformatie paper

3. "We have to become the Uber of our market"

Or other rigid thinking patterns such as "Our competitors have a PWA, so we should too", or "Our webshop must have the same product range as Amazon".

When you are stuck in certain thought patterns, you take your eye off the actual problem. Therefore, it’s important to ask yourself first: what blockers exist? Why do customers not place orders? Only after you have identified the problems can you take the right actions. And that action doesn't always have to be 'something disruptive' or 'building something'.

B2B e-commerce

A B2B party had built an e-commerce platform with very low order numbers. Customers kept emailing, they even took screenshots of their shopping carts and then sent it by email.

How could they intervene and stop this from happening?

With manual orders an intermediary checks the order, which is very useful for complex products with many configurations. The solution was therefore simple: add a check mark to the shopping cart: "please check my order".

4. "When the transformation is complete, then..."

Digital transformation is a mindset, not a project. You don't do it once, but continuously. That is why it is not enough to hand it over to your digital partner. Digital transformation must be embedded in the organisation as a spearhead; It's much more than 'just building something'.

And not everyone is an expert. Driving a car every day does not make you a mechanic or even an expert in car maintenance. You have to be able to design the processes and explain the strategy behind your choices. Therefore, start by doing your research, identify your objectives, design, and build, learn what works for your business and optimise accordingly.

Video - Digitising a business: the most common mistakes and how to avoid them

How is it that only 30% of the companies are successful in adopting digital transformation? In large part because it affects every aspect of a business: people, processes, infrastructure, and customers. We walk you through the most common mistakes we see in digital transformation projects so you don’t have to make them yourself.

Watch the video

Expert: Tom van Mierlo, Digital Strategist

Technology & startegy

5. "We won't go live until it's 'finished'”

Of course, you want to maintain a certain level of quality. But sometimes it can also be the case that something that has actually been realised is better than striving for perfection and never getting anything done. Moving quickly is challenging and is often difficult for large organisations. The trick is to create a framework where you are allowed to make mistakes and can take corrective steps quickly.

When you turn possibilities into reality, sometimes things go wrong. Deal with it. The conditions are never perfect, so you will have to take a chance. The very first iPhone wasn't perfect, nor was the first version of Spotify.

Digital transformation is about continuous progress, not standing still. The same standard applies to your failures, and to your successes. The world is constantly changing, and organisations have to keep moving too.

Tom van Mierlo - iO
About the expert
Tom Van Mierlo
Strategy Director

Senior digital strategist and partner at iO, Tom Van Mierlo's professional journey started more than 15 years ago at Intracto. Expanding his enthusiasm and experience since Intracto reshaped into iO at the end of 2021. Skilled in business development and growth, he specialises in turning strategic challenges into detailed digital plans to grow your business. An avid trendwatcher, but more importantly a trend implementor.

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