Overcoming Digital Business Roadblocks

By Katie Costello, Gartner

Becoming a digital business is not as simple as buying the latest technology. It requires a fundamental shift in an organization’s culture and worldview, right through to its core systems. To pave the way, CIOs and IT leaders must take on the challenging task of overcoming dysfunctional corporate behavior and practices.

Marcus Blosch, research vice president at Gartner, has identified several of these corporate barriers and explored how they play out in a given organization. He found that the root cause of many barriers to digital business is lack of partnership.

A successful digital organization requires a culture of collaboration, creativity and experimentation. But what happens when people aren’t willing to share or collaborate across functions?

“ Politics and misunderstandings often block or limit potential partnerships on the way to digital, ” says Blosch. “This is why CIOs and IT leaders must focus on the interests of their people and create a compelling vision for the new world that digital innovation will bring about.”

A good starting point is a three-way partnership between the executives leading the organization’s digital initiative, line of business and IT to scale and communicate new ideas.

Avoid getting caught in the digital hype

Businesses say they want to innovate with digital technology, but they don’t always have the necessary imagination, ability and resources. Many leaders get caught up in the digital business hype and try to move forward prior to being ready.

The business must first build its readiness to actually go digital.

“Executives must build the ability to innovate and develop the people, skills and competencies needed, in conjunction with the IT organization. Only then is it possible to innovate with digital,” Blosch says.

Digital business isn’t possible without the right people or processes. As a result, there is an increased need for individuals who are creative, can manage continuous change and have skills associated with the technology itself, for example, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) . “Putting these competencies together brings about new services and ways of working in the digital world,” Blosch says.

Traditionally structured processes simply will not enable a digital business to develop.

“Iterative, experimental and learning-oriented processes — such as design thinking and lean startup — are needed to put people at the centre and innovate around them,” Blosch explains.

Enhance your digital maturity to make change a little easier

A simple way of understanding digital is that it’s about transforming your business and operating models with technology. Naturally, this often involves a large-scale change.

“You need to develop platforms, become more modular and service oriented, and invest in skills — essentially enhancing your digital maturity,” Blosch says.

Effective change is almost impossible without organization wide collaboration, cooperation and consensus. CIOs and IT leaders must drive strong relationships with the business responsible for their organization’s digital strategy by promoting a partnership between the two to dissolve the barriers to becoming a true digital business.

Gartner clients can read more on the barriers to becoming a digital business in “ Six Barriers to Becoming a Digital Business, and What You Can Do About Them” by Marcus Blosch, et al. This research is part of the Gartner Special Report “The Resilience Premium of Digital Business: A Gartner Trend Insight Report.” This collection of research focuses on how committing to resilience will equip a digital business with the mindset, resources and planning to recover from inevitable disruptions.