Biggest Digital Transformation Hurdle: People, Not Tech

Old habits, weak skills make integration of social, mobile, and other disruptive technologies a continuing challenge. Here's some advice to ensure progress.

Debra Donston-Miller, Contributor

December 1, 2011

2 Min Read

10 Cool Social Media Monitoring Tools

10 Cool Social Media Monitoring Tools

Slideshow: 10 Cool Social Media Monitoring Tools (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Indeed, digital transformation, more than other business changes, will require strong integration between technology and business executives, according to the MIT/CapGemini report. "Companies with a history of strained IT and business relationships are handicapped when trying to conduct digital transformation," the report stated. "These companies often have issues common to those that do not govern IT well, namely complex IT architectures, unintegrated data, and processes that are not well-enabled through technology."

So, what's a business to do?

Jake Wengroff, global director of social media strategy and research for Frost & Sullivan, believes that, in some respects, it will take a new generation of executives--one that was essentially raised on this stuff--to effect real and lasting change.

"What will ease the transition is, of course, time," said Wengroff. "As Generations Y and Z move into management, they will consider internal social networking a must-have and will look to social media as a key HR and employee communication tool."

Lightman offered some guidelines for easing the transition more immediately:

-- Develop an effective social middleware that ties in information from different applications/processes and brings it into the document repository of record.

-- Understand the bridge between structured and unstructured information.

-- Understand how to work with open data stores, where they are available, and what value they can confer to the organization

-- Embrace open innovation and think more entrepreneurial when it comes to launching new internal social applications.

-- Loosen control--sometimes the greatest ideas comes from unique mixes of different groups.

-- Start small and have a focused project so that you can quantify and be able to justify the results.

While most experts agree that social is a great leveler, allowing stakeholders from all parts of the company to contribute ideas, the MIT/CapGemini report concludes that digital transformation must be led from the top: Digital transformation requires skills and influence that only senior leaders possess. Create a transformative vision that is clear and compelling to galvanize the organization. Mindfully consider what parts of your company should move--and why, and when--to make it implementable. Build digital maturity in two dimensions to increase your chances of success. Then take actions and monitor progress to turn your vision into reality."

Our InformationWeek 2012 Business Intelligence, Analytics, and Information Management Survey shows the old practice of following the money, using lagging financial indicators to guide a company's decisions, giving way to the forward-looking approach of following the data. Download the report now. (Free registration required.)

About the Author(s)

Debra Donston-Miller


Freelance writer Debra Donston-Miller was previously editor of eWEEK and executive editorial manager of eWEEK Labs. She can be reached at [email protected].

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