The problem with digital transformation? It lies in people, not technology.

Research from McKinsey and Oxford has shown that 6% of companies, including global leaders, are happy with their innovation and 16% are successful with their digital transformation. Other companies are dissatisfied with their innovation performance and face a challenge when it comes to their digital transformation. Do you know why organizations find digital transformation so challenging? The reason lies mostly with people.

In many companies, the main focus during digital transformation has been predominantly on the technology, while the amount of work needed to engage people in the company to embrace digital transformation has been underestimated. Why have 16% of companies been so successful with their digital transformation? Because they have mastered the key factor of technology integration: changing the leadership. In this article, you will find some advice you should follow in order to succeed with digital transformation.
Change the leadership needed for successful digital transformation

Every introduction of a new technological system into the organization presents a change. And people respond to change in one of three ways: fear, push back, and position for power. CIO’s and CEO’s need to ensure that their leaders have the leadership skills necessary to lead change and inspire teams to go along with technological innovation.

Involving stakeholders in digital transformation early on is key

A key component is engaging stakeholders early on in order to build change cheerleaders and champions within the company. With digital transformation, the best way to ensure easy integration of new technology is to include leaders and identified team members. Focusing only on the technology may lead to failure.
Putting people first is the key to digital transformation

The very first question when focusing on digital transformation needs to be: “How is this new technology, system or upgrade going to impact people, especially customers and employees?” If digital transformation is focused on people, success is almost guaranteed. But on the other hand, by not focusing on people first, the company can lose talented people and success of digital transformation is under question.
The future of digital transformation requires ‘everyone’ not just IT

In the past, many companies saw digital transformation as an IT initiative, while people were seen as part of HR. These two departments were completely separated. But what is needed for a successful digital transformation is a combination of focusing on people (keeping everyone in the company in mind) and integrating new technology. Cross-department synergies are needed so that people within a company eagerly anticipate change, want to drive change and are not threatened by ongoing technological innovation.
Future can only happen by focusing on people first and technology second.

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Is your organization ready for the digital transformation? Check the self-guided DIGITRANS method (link: that can help you to get things started. The EU funded project DIGITRANS (link: is a cooperation project of 15 project partners from seven countries from the Danube area.
Author: Nataša Rus, 24.4.2019


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