Overcoming 4 Last Mile Challenges in Digital Transformation

Today, the race to Digital is not only about survival but also to supremacy. The journey is full of surprises on the way and even more so afterward. The experts agree that the last mile challenges are the most difficult to deliver. In this article, we explore the biases companies have vis-a-vis technology, and the last mile challenge that companies face after they complete their Digital Transformation (DX). If companies are aware of the challenges that they will face once they are digital, it would help them moderate their expectations and be better prepared.

A Gartner survey reveals that when asked about the technology that will have the highest impact on industries in the next 3 years, here is what CEOs said:

  • AI
  • Blockchain
  • New material
  • Automation 
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Robotics
  • Digital

All of these technologies, including the digital, are difficult to incorporate, but the real challenge is in driving value out of these technology investments. 

Mitigate these biases to ensure the more value is delivered from digital initiatives:

  • Technology Selection Bias

One expects the process of technology selection to be quantified and rational. But the truth can not be further away. Kimberly D. Elsbach and Ileana Stigliani did research that reveals severe underlying biases involved with technology selection. Leaders tend to harbor biases towards new technology, which may even be unproven and might not have a proper ecosystem around it. The recommendations of experts and researchers seem to influence these decisions, and risk is very high for early adopters. Your company may not have proper data collections and processing capabilities, but the leaders may be captivated by AI. Thus it is essential not to be swayed by the hype and pursue a very rational approach. An effective way is to have non-technical people in the decision making process as they are more objective and risk-averse than tech guys.

  • Bias: Technology Over Data

Another bias involving technology is about the preference towards technology and less focus on data or treating them as one. Even though investment levels in data are rising, less than half of organizations are managing data as a business asset. Companies spend a lot on getting technologies but do not spend as adequately in harnessing the power of data. Most companies are reassured that by investing in technology, digitization, and digitalization they would deliver value. In reality, without investment in data and analytics capabilities, it is not possible to leverage it to generate tangible business outcomes. At this stage, companies may revisit their data analytics capabilities to prevent the failure of DX.

Last-mile challenge

Quintessentially, the last mile challenges consist of optimizations that ensure that the organization’s digital avatar is capable of delivering value.

Digital Transformation: Biases and Last Mile Challenges

  • Driving Data Driven Decisions  

Data is not a magic bullet! That would be a big surprise to many leaders. CXOs, after finishing the arduous process of DX expect to see results in black and white. But Data is probabilistic, with correlations that may or may not be casual; there are no single solution decision outcomes. 

Analysis and inference from every chart are subjective and can be manipulated. Different people can draw contrary results from the same data set. For good decisions, the right intention and critical thinking are vital. Your data scientists can use storytelling to be more effective, as simplicity is the core and challenging to accomplish. Also, do not underinvest in data capabilities as it would jeopardize DX outcomes. 

  • Leadership Data Literacy and Commitment 

The expectation from data analysis is at least to get a simple and unambiguous outcome. 

Leaders may not find its probabilistic nature appealing. Ultimately the leaders have to take the call on the decision they have to make. There is a need to understand the basics of how data works. Data literacy is critical for sound decisions as well as to avoid bitterness towards data.   

  • Catalyzing Culture 

The latest 2020 NewVantage Partners survey of C-suite executives reveals that 90% of executives consider culture as a formidable obstacle to DX success. It seems ironic, as DX is supposed to be about technology but, the truth is that technology is merely a tool and is as good as the people who use it and as innovative as the ingenuity of the people who apply it. Though at this stage, it is a little late to think about cultural transformation, and companies at various levels address it while transforming. But you can surely give culture one final boost by reworking on the incentive system. 

Redefine, refine and introduce it in light of its status quo. Incentives motivate people to change. Use it!

  • Syncing Expectations and Goals

Tune your expectations with your progress and accomplishments. The goals and targets you set, in the beginning, may not hold after you have become digital but fine-tune your expectations to your new reality. The most significant part remains, i.e., deriving value out of digital.

It is a great achievement to undergo digital transformation, but ensuring the last mile deliverables is vital. With a mindset of journey and change, leaders can instill the attitude of improving and improvising till digital starts delivering promised results.


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