Beware of the negligence path of Digital Transformation Journey by Soumyasanto Sen

Digital transformation may sound easy, but it’s not. Especially when, there are so many different understandings of this buzzword around the world.

Of course, it’s a journey which will change with the technologies you adopt and bring into the people, processes, and culture associated with your company. Before understanding this buzzword, it is important to know what a Digital Transformation is not.

Many organisations misunderstand digital transformation.

  • Digitisation — Integrating Digital Technologies into Workplaces [like the use of mobile, easy accesses, gadgets]. It is the process of changing from analogue to digital form.
  • Agile and DevOps — A technology makeover with development engineers participating together in the entire service lifecycle, from design through to the development process, to production support or using AGILE methods to move quickly and easily.
  • Business Process OptimiSation — To enhance the process for more efficient results and outcomes.
  • Digitalisation — The use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.

But for many organisations, digital transformation is really digital optimization in disguise, as new digital initiatives merely augment existing services.


“Digitalisation” opens the way towards the transformation journey. Digital Transformation leverages enormous opportunities for innovation and competitive advantages, which will require a complete rethinking of the organisation: cultural, strategic, technological, and operational changes, which lead to a transformation.

We need to focus on the following drivers and capabilities to keep the journey going.

The focus should be on the re-alignment of business models based on your vision. The focus should also be on your customer experiences, your users, your existing processes, the enablement of technologies to support these, driven by agile leadership (which must be flexible enough to change decisions) whilst still respecting the company culture.

Please note more than 70% of digital transformation projects/programs don’t succeed

Mckinsey suggests that 70% of transformation programs fail, while Forbes puts the figure at 84%. Genpact states the rate of failure is at 75%, which implies that 2 out of every 3 digital transformation projects/programs fail.


The first and foremost question; do you have a clear view? Or it’s an ICEBERG?

So what do we need to know to have a clear view?



We need to have the right mindsets for the transformation, an adopting mindset, in fact. WE NEED TO ADOPT! Starting with you personally, with your organisation, your customers and the rest of the context (like the industry, technologies, demographics etc.) which are all, in fact, related to your transformation.

The first step to start with is to ask questions with open-minded attitude so that we can open a new world of opportunities.

  • Why do we need to transform?
  • What does a successful transformation look like?
  • Do we have the right skills and resources?
  • Are we aware of challenges?
  • Is the organisation ready for the changes?

These are some of the basic questions we must start with to understand the journey. A mindset refers to a person’s established set of attitudes about a topic, including digital.

Take a look at the research from SAP in collaboration with Oxford Economics on The Digital Transformation Mindset That Matters Across Geographies.

What is the number one hurdle for digital transformation?

It’s the CULTURE, the operating system of the organisation. Companies from the pre-digital era, therefore, need to adjust or shift their organisational culture to keep up in today’s digital world. Companies must also be ready to adapt or change their culture. Neither is easy nor is it going to happen quickly.

Company culture reflects an organisation’s deepest and most closely held beliefs and values. Those beliefs and values have had years, often decades, to become deeply entrenched and frequently play a significant role in why the organisation reached its level of success in the first place.

Moreover, there are individual cultures, a different culture for different teams. All must be in sync or fit each other for them to succeed.

Building a culture of constant change — a state of constant revolution is key.

BEWARE: Mindset is the first hurdle in a digital transformation journey



It is the strategy which drives the digital transformation, not technologies. Digital transformation is no longer just an add-on feature to existing channels, products or services. Instead, many aspects of the customer experience are digital by default, as should be the processes that underpin it.

The most important thing is to capture the value and find the 'sweet spots' (among company’s capabilities, customer’s need, competitor’s offering). You need to consider the entire value chain when developing the strategy. Only then can you get ready for the digital transformation.

A strategy has no value without execution. The main importance is you have to execute it, and this execution is, in fact, an agile process: Analyse, Formulate and Build. This is also a constant improvement process. It’s not like you set something and forget about it. Nobody cares about strategy! Or sometimes people care so much that they are not ready to change whatever they decided on in the beginning. This is not working at all for strategy.

BEWARE: Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast.


Any business can excel at digital leadership and management, regardless of its size or budget. But doing so requires more than just savvy IT leaders.

“So who owns digital transformation?”

Source: Forbes

“What should we expect from the leader who is leading a digital transformation?”

Some of the very important qualities we should expect, at least, are; clarity about the vision, keeping transparency throughout, belief in collaboration, possess agility, strong communication, a perfect role model are

BEWARE: Culture, leadership, and strategy are the triumvirate that together steer the organisation toward excellence.


We know about the customer-first approach, the customer is the king, the god. Of course, we do know and we do agree. We must pay special attention to the customer experience when we are considering a digital transformation. But that’s not enough.

Digital transformation means different things to different people. For many, it’s about the speed and power of back office technology. For some, it’s about getting more visibility into process and data. For others, it’s about driving efficiency and cost savings to the bottom line.

Digital transformation people align with people transformation at the same time. It can be the customer/partners/vendors/suppliers or even your employees. Everybody is equally important for the whole transformational experience and equally responsible for its success.

What is important here is EMPATHY: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another and “…To address people needs, there is a need to empathize with people and their emotional states when scoping and designing new solutions and services…”. Digital empathy should be a core element/fuel of your digital transformation strategy.

The people must be associated with other two ingredients, process and technology (also known as the golden triangle) for the success of specifically digital success.

BEWARE: Empathy is a key tool for creating a digital success.

Another important aspect to remember is to not start fearing current and future failures. Failure is, in fact, the first step to success, and we all have learned that from our childhoods. Organisations that experience continued success recognise that it isn’t just the change; it is the journey that matters.

Digital Transformation is more than a buzzword; it becomes an essential part of corporate strategies. There is no alternative to digital transformation. Visionary companies will carve out new strategic options for themselves — those that don’t adapt will fail.


I had an interesting opportunity to speak on this in INNOWAVE 2017 BUSINESS & STARTUP in Varna (European Youth Capital), Bulgaria last Oct, 2017.

I am always open to discussion on this topic anytime and sharing thoughts and experience.

Have a great Journey!


This article was originally posted here.


Soumyasanto Sen is a Blogger, Speaker and Evangelist in HRTech who tries to think Out of the Box! Engaging with Companies, Startups & Entrepreneurs in driving Transformation.

Professionally Consultant/Manager/Advisor/Investor in HR Tech. focusing on Strategies, Analytics, Cloud, UX, Security, Integration and Entrepreneurship in Digital HR Transformation.