Align Your Ducks!

In my last article, I explained what Digital should mean to any organization that wants to go “digital”. 5/10 times, the intentions are wrong, and misconceptions lead to either a failed endeavor or a complete mess. Now assuming you got the 5 key questions answered properly (amongst others), here are some of the pitfalls to avoid.

All in all, your aim is to make your current business go from Good to Great. Good to slightly better is not an option.

This is my second blog in the series of “Going Digital” If you haven’t read the first one on the Frustrations of Digital (Click HERE). In this article, I talk about the potential pitfalls to avoid in the process. So, let’s get started!

Note: What I describe below is based on my own experience and also that of clients that I consulted in the past. 2010 or 2020 is irrelevant. It’s the substance the counts

  1. Claim It & Own It: It’s simple! If the CEO or owner of the business doesn’t believe in it, it won’t work! It should start from the top and trickle its way down to the bottom.
  2. Manage Expectations: All too often, the idea comes as a command. We need to do this now and we need it yesterday! Well ok. But managing expectations is key. Digital transformation doesn’t grow on trees. Financial results will come, in time. Therefore, managing time is essential.
  3. Sense of Urgency: What? you think you’re the only one thinking about digital transformation?
  4. It’s not an App: Digital is not an app. It’s a process. It leverages different technologies to achieve a desired result. Therefore, I would strongly urge any organization that wants to digitize its business to avoid rushing towards app developers without rhyme or reason. If you don’t know yourself what you want and how to get there, an isolated developer with a $300 offer to develop an app is not going to be of much help!
  5. Define your Objective: What do you want to achieve? What portions of your business do you want to digitize? What is your financial objective? You’ve got to get your roadmap defined. This can be done internally or part/in full consulting with experts. Either way, decide what your Point A is and what Point Z should look like 2,5,10 years down the road.
  6. Don’t Blame COVID: It’s a pandemic with economic consequences. It will pass and others will come. The question is – will you be caught off guard again?
  7. Walk before you can Run: One of the biggest mistakes I see is companies running like headless chickens pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars and getting the biggest, the best, blah blah blah of technology. 6 months down the road, they are nowhere near to being any less confused or frustrated. Hire a professional CIO/CTO and or a consultant to do the heavy lifting. Don’t become an Amazon from day one. It won’t work!
  8. Hire the right people: Full time, part time or consultants – get them on your books! Your CIO/CTO should take care of this and if at all possible, localize the work. If urgency is your concern, working 5 time zones away with people you barely understand, is not viable. There is enough talent locally or close to you to achieve this. It’s funny how at the “pitch stage”, we all understand each other – but during delivery, we all become linguistically challenged.
  9. Keep your business informed: Keep ’em in the loop! Explain what, why, when and how. Team members or employees in the dark, is the worst possible scenario which will lead to failure.
  10. Be real about costs: Going digital means driving more out of less (costs) in the long term. This could mean a reduction in staff or closures of offices, etc. If you are small and local – this would be less of a concern. However, you should always look at digital to bring certain costs element down, improve pricing, margins, enhance delivery and ultimately profits! So be clear.
  11. Start from the bottom: I’ve never seen anyone build a house starting with a roof. The same applies here. Is your business ready? What changes do you need to make internally and within departments to accommodate your digital solutions? Logistics, procurement, fulfillment, etc.?
  12. Be ready to fail, learn and fix: There is no one solution fits all. You can’t buy “digital” in a box. Accept that you may fail, but acknowledge that you will quickly learn, fix and rebound. Get your customers involved in the process. This help!
  13. Focus on your end customer: Beit internal or external. Business or consumer. They should come first. If all the time, money and effort spent yields a poor, worse off customer experience – the price can cost you time, money and reputation. Design the process so it will be engaging, more rewarding. It will improve delivery times or enhance rewards. All in all, your aim is to make your current business go from good to great and not good to slightly better!
  14. Focus: Guns blazing, app, mobile, web and sending a rocket to the moon – that won’t work. When designing to deploying, address the key areas of opportunity or problems you want to solve first or at least, go in blocks. What is the competition doing that you can offer? What is something new and exciting? Phased rollouts are cool. They keep customers expecting more and it gives you time to fix in easier chunks what didn’t work. It also keeps the PR department happy with stories to tell internally and externally.

Nothing can substitute vision and empowerment. And these two key points need to flow along with the above 11 to make a digital transformation successful. Notice that all the points are interlinked with each other. Again, it’s not a blueprint because every situation or business will have its own set of challenges, economic factors, competitive forces, etc. But it’s the core and should be considered.

Digital can be small and can be the “elephant in the room”. But however which way you look at it, digital is a transformation. Done right, it will transform your business positively. Done wrong, it can morph into a financial and reputational catastrophe.

My name is Marc Khaled Aubry. I am a professional marketer, strategist and consultant with over 20 years in experience gained across several business sectors in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. To contact me, please email me at or by filling out the form on my blog.

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