Digital Transformation Challenges and Opportunities in the Pandemic Era

Written By: Mikaela Gluck
December 1, 2020
4 min read

Quickbase recently sponsored a research report by Harvard Business Review Analytics Services titled Reevaluating Digital Transformation During Covid-19. The findings are based off the results of a survey of 527 global business leaders and executives about their company’s digital transformation in the Covid-19 era.

The 27% of companies who rated their transformation strategies as “very effective” both before and after the Covid-19 outbreak were identified as leader organizations, whereas the 50% who reported these strategies as “somewhat effective” and the 23% who said “not very effective” in both periods were identified as follower and laggard organizations, respectively.

Budget, Culture, and Strategy Identified as Significant Barriers to Success

So what challenges to achieving transformation success did this report uncover? Across the spectrum of organization representatives surveyed, three major problem areas proved to be significant roadblocks. The first is budget constraints. 38% of all executives said that a tight budget is the primary reason why transformation efforts have fallen short of the organization’s goals. This is expected – providing the necessary resources, tools, and trainings helps ensure that transformation projects can be seen through. Although organizational finances can be especially tight in times of uncertainty, putting funding behind the effort emphasizes its priority.

The second major barrier lies within company culture. 38% of executives overall said that the primary reason transformation efforts haven’t met company goals is due to an organizational culture that doesn’t easily adapt to changing business conditions. Another fifth of respondents said that their company’s culture doesn’t foster innovation.

Many business companies have experienced these cultural roadblocks first-hand — enterprise-wide transformation efforts are often met with resistance from people in the business who are hesitant to change the way they work. For these transformation efforts to grow roots throughout the company, employee concerns about these changes need to be addressed so the shift to an innovation-mindset can occur.

The final barriers can be summed up as shortcomings in strategy associated with implementing transformation. 34% of survey respondents attributed the discrepancy between transformation results and their organization’s goals for the project to a lack of cohesive enterprise-wide strategy from executives.

Meanwhile, this lack of clear direction with these enterprise-wide efforts causes additional friction in implementing transformation across the business – more than 20% of respondents said their organization’s transformation efforts are too large and complex to enable iterative modernization of processes and quick wins on a smaller scale. So not only does lack of cohesion of high-level strategy hold the business back from transforming, but it hinders change from occurring in individual teams and workgroups. This sentiment is supported by the fact that over 25% of executives said that essential business workflows can’t fully support transformation goals.

Transforming Challenges to Opportunity

The challenges recognized by this report may seem overwhelming and impossible to overcome at first. However, a change in approach to digital transformation efforts can adequately address all these concerns and set your company on the path to success.

Your company’s current transformation strategy likely focuses solely on enterprise-wide efforts, and is subject to the budget, cultural, and strategic barriers described previously. By implementing a dual-track approach to digital transformation – one that combines enterprise-wide efforts with rapid-cycle innovation (the modernization of processes and workflows at a departmental level) – enables the right changes to occur in the right places at the right time, setting up your business for continued transformation success well into the future.

By implementing the second track of dual-track, rapid-cycle innovation, with tools like low-code, people across your organization can quickly build and iterate upon custom business applications that modernize and automate the processes they perform every day. This unlocks the potential for quick wins, as innovation on a low-code platform can occur in a matter of weeks, if not days, whereas traditional software development processes can take months or years. What’s more, low-code tools allow for people who don’t have a technical background to build out sophisticated software solutions without having to write a single line of code.

The result of rapid-cycle innovation, put simply, is time and money saved. With previously manual processes getting automated through business applications, employees can win back hours of their workdays and re-invest the time saved into more strategic tasks. And your company can achieve this without having to hire developers that are not only costly, but hard to come by.

With people in the business empowered to make the changes to the processes and workflows that they know best, their attitudes towards innovation and your digital transformation efforts in general will shift. It shows your company’s leadership cares to invest in employee’s professional development. Furthermore, this demonstrates to employees that they can have a greater impact on the company by pursuing innovation in their roles.

Finally, implementing rapid-cycle innovation means that projects that previously required help from IT can be completed with minimal IT oversight. Low-code platforms like Quickbase offer enterprise-grade security and governance capabilities, so IT can feel confident that any low-code development is happening within company and industry compliance standards. Now, IT can focus their highly skilled resources on improving and implementing enterprise-wide efforts as rapid-cycle innovation runs in tandem.

Written By: Mikaela Gluck

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