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Three Most Common Mistakes to Avoid with Digital Transformation Projects

According to Forbes, organizations are expected to invest $1.3 trillion (USD) in digital transformation initiatives this year. However, research points to the fact that 70% of these digital transformation initiatives will fail. The problem is that companies aren’t actually transforming, instead they are only attempting to transform by wedging new mobile applications, engagement layers, or channels on old and brittle infrastructure. Frankly, this is not transformation, this is stagnation.

Here are some of the most common and expensive mistakes that send well-intentioned digital projects to their doom.

1 You’re not investing in experiences that customers really want

Successful digital transformation projects aren’t built around shiny objects. They deliver true value to customers. Approach transformation from the customer’s point of view. What will truly fill a need, delight and support a customer along the buyer journey? Use both quantitative and qualitative methods to formulate and validate your hypothesis:

  • Analytics

  • Customer surveys

  • Customer journeys

  • Proof of concept before a larger rollout

digital transformation fail investing analytics

2 You’re not planning for requirements

Failing to plan carries the opportunity cost of delayed or abandoned projects, which translates to lost customer sales while giving your competitors time to get ahead.

Define your project requirements, customer journeys and flows. Understand and anticipate necessary integrations. These details should be nailed down before you start to build to avoid mid-implementation changes and issues that can derail your effort.

digital transformation fail planning chess

3 You’re constricted with technology

Traditional, single-stack ecommerce solutions are coupled, meaning the front-end presentation layer and back-end infrastructure (the “stack”) are unified. This creates several technical issues and business limitations.

  • High risk. With single-stack architecture, you can’t modify business logic without updating and redeploying the entire application. Over time, convoluted integrations and customizations make the whole application “brittle.” Even small coding errors can interrupt or bring down the system. Single-stack architectures amplify the problem due to the challenges in isolation testing.

  • Difficult to scale. The pieces of a single-stack commerce engine share code, databases and memory. Separating out pieces that consume a lot of bandwidth or otherwise drag performance is a challenge. If traffic or consumption spikes, you must run more instances of your entire application, which can result in paying for additional licenses, hardware or hosting, or paying higher fees to your SaaS vendor. Some services and databases don’t scale at all, leading to suboptimal outcomes and failed projects.

  • Stifles innovation. Hardwiring new touchpoints to a legacy system keeps you shackled to the version you’re using at the beginning of your project, and can prevent you from integrating newer, best-of-breed tech in the future.

digital transformation fail constricted jail behind bars

That’s why top brands are abandoning siloed, single-stacks for more flexible headless commerce solutions.

With headless commerce the business layer and the presentation layer are decoupled from each other.

  • Flexibility. Headless commerce allows you to deliver customer experiences the way you want, without requiring back-end development.

  • Stability. Development teams can work independently, without affecting other teams’ code or release schedules. They can focus on key areas like system security, availability, and auditability. Leaving the underlying code untouched ensures a stable platform that can be easily upgraded in the future.

  • Agility. Front-end teams are able to adapt and make changes rapidly and fluidly. When a new front-end technology arrives, the impact of experimenting on it has minimal effect on the entire system. Agility is no longer a “nice-to-have” but now is very much a “must-have” for businesses to survive and flourish.

There comes a point when you need to stop adding to legacy or homegrown systems – it becomes too restrictive, arduous and expensive – and for most organizations, that time is now.

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