Identifying Corporate Barriers to Digital Success

The promises of digital are many: increase customer loyalty, reach new customers, grow revenue, create new revenue streams, and more. Yet, there are just as many challenges — new competitors, complex technologies, endless ad networks, etc., that present challenges, confusion, and hurdles on the road to digital nirvana.

Keep in mind: every company faces these challenges. So why do companies succeed while others fail to realize the promise of digital?

Let’s first examine how one tackles challenges and solves problems. Whenever I have a problem accomplishing something, one of the first places I look to help improve the situation is from within. I ask myself: “What can I do to improve the situation?” Of course, I look at outside factors, but I don’t put 100 percent blame on the external factors because it always takes two to tango.

Let’s say I’m putting on too much weight (which I am). I blame myself for not sticking to an exercise schedule. I don’t blame the TV set or McDonald’s. If I invest in a stock and it goes south, I might be upset at the company’s board for its decisions. But I’ll also look closely at what I could have done better to evaluate the stock and the board before buying the stock.

Similarly, companies must honestly look at themselves, at their own organization, and take a hard look in the mirror and see why their own organization may actually be a major barrier to digital success — and perhaps it may be its own worst enemy, almost as much of an impediment as a big competitor. That’s why the next “C” of the 12 Cs for Digital Success is “Corporate.”

An organization is a living, breathing, dynamic ecosystem comprised of people with different roles, compensation plans, career goals, motivations, work ethics, and tolerance levels for change. It has many levels of business processes, decision-making, and bureaucracy. Although companies won’t admit it, there are always competing and conflicting business goals within the same company between different business units, divisions, and personnel.

When a company injects “digital” into an established corporate structure, major organizational changes must take place within the company. The companies that do digital well understand and implement changes to their corporate structure so they can fully embrace digital. Planning and implementing these changes are incredibly difficult because they affect every part of an organization’s ecosystem. To succeed and to stay in business, you’ve got to do it.

Here are the key mistakes that companies make.

  • Don’t have the right people, skills, positions, and compensation plans.
  • Don’t have the right organizational structure in place to effectively leverage digital and to integrate it with existing business units.
  • Have the wrong people making digital/interactive decisions.
  • Haven’t updated existing business processes or created necessary new ones.
  • Don’t have any change management initiatives.
  • Don’t have executive support.

This results in:

  • Poorly designed, watered-down digital products that have no compelling, differentiating value proposition due to not having the right skills and having the wrong people make decisions.
  • Being late to market due to bureaucracy and inability to move at digital speed.
  • Lost customers.
  • Missed revenue opportunities and revenue loss.
  • Loss of market leadership and/or market share.
  • Confusion and low morale across organization.
  • Frustration and conflicts between colleagues.
  • Staff defections.

In my next column, I’ll drill down on these problems and recommend solutions on how to transform and reengineer your business. If you can get these measures in place, though difficult and challenging, then you’ll be on your way to achieving digital success, as well as creating a better working environment and corporate culture.

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