What I’m Learning As a CDO

I always assumed that lack of communication between IT, Marketing and Sales departments contributed to unsuccessful tech implementations. I always felt that the right solution was a CDO, who actively communicated with multiple stakeholders and spearheaded the digital transition. I was wrong.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with several patient, and seasoned business savvy executives who truly believe in collaboration and benefits of digital transition. Yet, there’s been not-so-successful (failed) app launches, and new sales tech launches. Why?

Successful digital transition requires more than executive collaboration

We often believe it’s “lack of executive buy in”, “lack of collaboration”, “lack of budget”, “lack of oversight”, “unrealistic expectations” etc. etc. Of course it’s true that some digital transitions fail due to some of these reasons. However, from my experience failure is often due to lack of real world user knowledge.

The missing piece: how we function in the real world usage is often different from your optimal business process

Most of us know that we should never assume that our own understanding or interpretations of words and objects to match those of intended users. Any good UX designer, or a developer will agree with that statement. Yet, we digitize processes, design applications to optimize business processes based on assumptions that optimize business practices. Then we wonder why we’re deriving lackluster results.

Why are we inclined to assume? Why did our pilot group not fail?

We assume, because we have the best of intentions. We assume because we expect that a certain job, function or an action is performed the same way by all users. We often assume that what’s intuitive to us is just as intuitive for others. Here’s one place where we go wrong.

In most cases, pilot groups consists of group of volunteers. Most members of pilot groups are those that want to improve process and usually are change agents. Pilot groups expect change. So when they are presented with a new application or process, provide feedback, and test it out, these individuals adapt.

How do you achieve success? Transformation must be easy to adopt by all – including the laggards. No, training isn’t your answer here.

Digital transformation is not about technology. It’s about people. Don’t implement the latest shiny new thing if it doesn’t fit everyone. Often new ways of using existing technologies – optimizing the use of these technologies give you great results.

Walk a mile or more in a laggard’s shoes. Follow someone for a day who’s resistant to change. Listen and observe with an open mind–you’re not there to change his/her mind, but to learn. Learn how you can help, and learn how the new process/technology will change his/her functions, truly pay attention to the fact how cumbersome it will be at a personal level for this person(s) to adapt.

Training doesn’t solve the issue of adoption. It has to be intuitive, not for you and I, but for the lowest technically adapt person performing the function. Start here, and your digital transformation will be successful.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your companies digital transformation will take time. Stay the course, build your transformation step by step, keeping your end users in mind.

More From My Blog