Six Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Digital Transformation Project

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Six Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Digital Transformation Project

It sounds straightforward enough: To stay competitive, businesses know they must use innovation in cloud, big data, mobile and social media. So they get busy reinventing their IT infrastructure and processes through the collection of strategies known as digital transformation. But executing digital transformation is no small feat. The process is full of pitfalls, from trying to do too much at once to being scattershot to breaking applications. With so much riding on digital transformation efforts—such as the ability to strengthen customer relationships, create new revenue opportunities and streamline costs—companies don't have room for major errors. In this eWEEK slide show, Automic Software CTO John Purrier, a chief industry source, points out key mistakes that can doom digital transformation.

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Lacking a Plan

Some organizations dive into digital transformation with an assortment of piecemeal, unconnected steps. That is the wrong approach. Digital transformation doesn't mean a flashy new mobile app here or an automated process there, but rather a unified, enterprise-wide strategy. It's imperative that companies go into the endeavor with a carefully crafted blueprint of all the projects involved, with their links to concrete business success measures. Set overarching goals, make a plan for achieving them and set deadlines.

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Going Too Fast

It's great to have ambitious objectives, but overhauling an enterprise is inherently a complex and delicate process. Critical systems must continue to function with no downtime. New applications must come on board without issues. It's a bit like living in a house while it's being remodeled. So understand that digital transformations happen in increments, not in massive swoops that could cause turmoil. Pace yourself. Understand that digital transformations are marathons, not sprints, and with no real finish line. No company ever says, "OK, we are digitally transformed!" IT modernization is an unending journey.

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Thinking It's All About Products

Digital transformation isn't a set of technologies; it's a mindset for change. Obviously, products are indispensable for implementation, but concentrating too much on the technology itself while losing focus on the broader mission can lead to bad decisions. Remember that digital transformation isn't about technology for technology’s sake; it's about modernizing systems for tangible benefits in serving customers, reaching new markets and so on. Don't lose sight of the big picture.

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Going It Alone

Think your company can execute a digital transformation strictly with in-house resources? Big mistake. The initiative is simply too specialized and complicated for most organizations to be successful without outside consultants who have done it before and can serve as expert guides. You need people who know best practices and are capable of deeply understanding your operational realities and concerns. Don't think you can do this on your own.

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Skimping on the 'Ops' in DevOps

As part of digital transformation, more and more companies are adopting the agile methodologies of DevOps to shorten development cycles and deploy applications into production at higher velocity.But to too many people, DevOps really means just eliminating the Ops. That's ill-advised thinking. IT operations teams do more than just "keep the lights on"; they remain vital in managing data centers. Production environments are more complex than ever, and a strong Ops team is all that stands in the way of a few seconds of costly downtime. So invest in technologies and embrace processes that enable Ops as well as Dev. 

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Sometimes companies get stars in their eyes as they embark on a digital transformation. They dream it will make them as revolutionary as Netflix, Uber or Airbnb. Forge your own path. What modernization should look like in your organization is likely different from that in one of these digital native superstars. Companies should harness digital technology in a manner suited to their unique needs.

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Digital transformation isn't easy—no type of transformation is—but by avoiding these six mistakes, organizations can stay on a path to success.

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