Close-up view of young business people putting their hands together.

One of the biggest impediments to digital transformation is entirely human

3 Oct 2018

In a recent survey commissioned by low-code platform Appian, IT culture and a lack of collaboration were found to be the biggest roadblocks to digital transformation.

The latest developments in the world of technology are hugely promising both for enterprises and society at large. They offer the opportunity for businesses to optimise their business and deliver a better service to their customers. It’s exciting, yet the digital transformation race can feel like a frantic one.

For many enterprises, weathering the rise of emerging technologies and adjusting accordingly will be the great filter. The organisations that don’t ‘get with the times’ and digitally transform will be the ones that get left behind. It’s all very sink-or-swim.

So, what are the barriers to digital transformation? What key issues could differentiate whether a particular business successfully evolves along with society and continues to thrive?

One’s initial instinct might be to cite the tech talent shortage or other lack of essential hard skills. Money, of course, could always be an issue. Yet, according to the latest white paper published by low-code developer Appian, the primary roadblock is something entirely human.

Appian surveyed 500 senior-level executives (director or above) at companies around the world with more than 1,000 employees. More than half of the respondents were C-suite executives.

60pc of the respondents indicated that they feel optimistic about the promise of digital transformation, and more than nine out of 10 said their IT departments lead digital transformation efforts.

As opposed to budget/cost or skills availability, a conservative IT culture and lack of collaboration make up more than half of the barriers to successfully carrying out a digital transformation. For almost a quarter (24pc), IT culture is the number-one barrier. Meanwhile, more than a quarter (27pc) blame a lack of collaboration between IT line of business as being the primary obstacle.

The cost of culture

An urge to maintain the status quo or an unwillingness/inability to upskill and learn new technologies is damaging digital transformation efforts. As IT culture evolves to meet these new demands, so says the report, finding ways to adapt and trying to learn new technologies can be a source of strife.

Essentially, this boils down to the issue of adaptability. Of course, learning new technologies is contingent on the resources to learn being made available, but a desire to maintain a status quo or a struggle to evolve one’s role is yet more evidence that soft skills, like the nerds, will inherit the earth.

Additionally, a lack of collaboration between IT departments and other parts of business could be down to an organisation needing to better foster communication. A possible source of the issue could be a general lack of communication skills.

As we learned yesterday from IBM’s latest HR study, C-suite leaders recognise that people skills are going to be vital to the success of their businesses. Instances such as these demonstrate why, in the digital transformation race, it’s going to be the most human skills that guarantee success.

You can read the report in full here.

Eva Short
By Eva Short

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic, specialising in the areas of tech, data privacy, business, cybersecurity, AI, automation and future of work, among others.

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