When you consider the benefits, it’s obvious why so many businesses want to implement, or already are implementing, digital transformation strategies. Who doesn’t want reduced operating costs, a more productive workforce and optimized processes? Who could pass up the ability to slice and dice all of the data at their disposal to help improve the way things are done, or to spot and capitalize on trends? Most businesses want this, and many have already embarked on their digital transformation journey, with the hopes to propel their business into the future.

But as beneficial — or necessary, really — as it is to roll out a digital transformation plan, navigating the choppy waters won’t come without its heels and pitches, accompanied by stress and anxiety. And when you look at the success rates amongst digital transformation adopters, the fear seems understandable. According to Michael Gale, founder of Strategic Oxygen, only one in eight of the Forbes 2000 companies “got it right,” and that “there were ranges of failure, to whereby more than 50 percent didn’t get it right at all.” 

I decided to speak with executives at Laserfiche to get their perspective on why so many companies struggle with getting digital transformation right. “Regardless of industry, organizations experience the same pain points and have the same concerns when it comes to managing information and business processes,” said Karl Chan, president and CTO at Laserfiche. Perhaps one of the biggest problems is money. As in every other facet of a business, budget is a major factor in what gets done and how. “Not every organization has the resources to set up a brand-new IT infrastructure or create a data science team,” said Tim Nichols, VP of marketing at Laserfiche. IT leaders know that convincing the folks who write the checks can be a tough sell. Often, the C-suite aren’t the most tech-savvy folks in the organization, and trying to convince them that the latest and greatest tech can transform business processes that, in their minds, work just fine now, can be challenging. And even when there is acknowledgment, they might not be willing to invest and get stuck with a system that might be out of date in a few years.  

Another big issue spanning the business world is that some businesses don’t understand what they‘re getting into. “Digital transformation is actually a source of anxiety for many — it can be difficult to pinpoint what needs to change, when changes need to happen and what goals organizations are looking to achieve on their digital transformation journey.” Without an understanding of the technology or the concepts driving digital transformation, it is difficult to create an effective strategy. For instance, you know how your business processes flow in their current form, but what would it look like and how would it work in digital form?

And even with a solid plan in place, there is a litany of technical problems that must be addressed — namely, how to merge and translate your current model with a new digital model. Maybe some of your employees are still using paper, while others are using cloud services, network drives and some line-of-business software to get their work done. In many businesses, it’s not uncommon for different departments to use different filing schemes or nomenclature for the same projects, clients, partners and so on. Bringing your varying processes together requires a lot of development time, and that’s after you’ve figured out how to standardize.         

You also need to acknowledge the end user. In what will surely be a constant throughout human history, people loathe change, especially when, to them, nothing needed changing to begin with. Even if you could work around all of the other issues, what if you deploy this system, but your workers continue to work outside of it? You can’t get an ROI on a tool that no one uses.

Overcoming these obstacles won’t be easy. And as digital transformation pushes through its adolescent years, we are starting to get a better understanding of how businesses can transition more smoothly toward a digital office. 

Laserfiche took a unique approach in helping companies tackle the complexity by developing a framework outlining phases of digital transformation and actionable steps to take within each phase.

And as products such as these continue to evolve, businesses will have an easier time adopting digital transformation models and adapting to the rapidly changing technology environment.      

So you may be too scared to invest, or might not know enough to understand how digital transformation can help your company survive and thrive. Maybe you’re nervous about how your employees will adapt to doing things a new way, or how you can even build something that can merge their respective ways into a single system. But that’s OK. Change is scary, but change can be good. It can even be very good.

Patricia Ames
Patricia Ames

is senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 10 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community. Follow her on Twitter at @OTGPublisher or contact her by email at patricia@bpomedia.com