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Businesses lack a streamlined approach to digital transformation

Sarah K. White | May 25, 2016
Most business executives understand the importance of digital transformation, but they aren't prepared for how quickly they need to adapt, according to research from Gartner.

Beyond that, results were highly varied, citing roles such as CFO, CTO, business unit leaders, COO and president or owner. Such a range of titles implies that businesses haven't figured out a streamlined way to lead when it comes to business transformation, often putting the responsibility on people who may not be the most qualified. Gartner suggests that this is due to the fact that CEOs are stuck in a 20th century management theory, which was developed during a time when businesses were more invested in manufacturing and physical assets than digital technology.

A custom approach

Appian found that 69 percent of business executives think that custom software is the future of digital transformation, but leaders also report roadblocks holding back the process. Of those surveyed, 38 percent cited "constantly evolving business requirements" as a major impediment to digital transformation. In addition to changing business requirements, 37 percent also reported "integration across data sources" as an issue and 35 percent cited "long development cycles." Additionally, business executives had concerns around the overall investment, with nearly half of respondents concerned about performance, customer experience and the flexibility of technological infrastructure.

"There are a number of elements that stand as obstacles to businesses' digital transformation goals, including constantly evolving business requirements, and complex custom software that can make a big impact but can often take a long time to develop and implement. The key is finding solutions that eliminate as many obstacles as possible," says Beckley.

And those solutions might not be found in vendors, at least that's what the study from Appian suggests. The results showed that 58 percent of business executives reported "pre-packaged vendor application software has limited benefits." More than half also said they believed third party applications were "too rigid for their company's business needs." Ultimately, it seems businesses might need to consider a custom approach if they want to successfully transition to a fully digital business within the next five years -- however building a custom approach can take extra time and money.

A digital overhaul

The idea of digital transformation is more than incorporating more software and hardware into day to day operations; CEOs envision something far more complex, according to Gartner. The study found that half of CEOs said they expected the digital transformation to render their industries unrecognizable in the next five years. And Gartner agrees, pointing to industries that have recently experienced a digital upheaval from technology like self-driving cars, the Internet of Things, blockchain banking and even e-cigarettes.

Executives also have questions around what constitutes digital transformation, according to Gartner. For instance, 51 percent of respondents said that cybersecurity was an issue for business management, while 49 percent cited it was a responsibility for technology management. But Gartner takes a firm stance, stating that cybersecurity is not something that should be relegated to technology departments, instead it should be a concern for the entire company -- especially as digital transformation takes hold. Defining what should be included in digital transformation is vital to digital adaptation to ensure nothing gets left behind in the transition.

 

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