Digital Transformation Stalls Without Strong Leadership

A recent survey spells out challenges that leaders need to overcome to bring about change within their organizations.

While technology has the power to reshape processes and drive down costs, many digital transformation strategies lack the C-level support needed to succeed.

According to findings from a Wipro Digital survey of 400 senior-level U.S. executives, almost one in five respondents harbors secret doubts about their organization’s digital efforts, believing the projects are a waste of time.

Their lack of faith may stem from the slow return on investment they’ve seen so far: Wipro data indicate that only 4 percent of organizations realized at least half of their investment within one year. Most respondents (84 percent) said it took longer, reporting a time frame of up to three years to see their ROI hit that level.

Rajan Kohli, senior vice president and global head of Wipro Digital, attributes the delay to a crisis among leadership.

“Digital transformation efforts are coming up short on intended ROI, in part because digital transformation is as much a leadership issue as it is a strategy, technology, culture, and talent issue,” Kohli said in a statement. “Real digital transformation occurs when courageous leaders align goals in practice as well as theory, manage opportunity more than risk, and prioritize the future versus retrofit the present.”

Aligning strategy with action may be easier said than done, though. According to the survey, one in four executives reported that one of their biggest challenges is overcoming a lack of alignment around the meaning of digital transformation.

Focusing on the Positives

Despite the obstacles, executives surveyed by Wipro recognize the potential of digital disruption. Among chief technology officers, improving operational efficiencies represents the number-one driver for implementing digital strategies. CEOs cite modernizing legacy IT as the top driver, while chief marketing officers note the increased agility that comes from going digital.

Associations that have executed digital strategies have seen some of those benefits firsthand. The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, for instance, dramatically streamlined its newsletter production process by implementing a content-personalization solution. According to a post on The DelCor Connection blog, the change enabled AAO-HNS staff to cut back from creating 15 newsletters to producing just one optimized newsletter that engaged readers at a personal level.

Capitalizing on similar opportunities will require top leaders to let go of their reservations and buy into the digital transformation mindset. It’s only with strong executive-level governance that associations will get on the same page and see their digital investments come to fruition.


Meg Conlan-Donnelly

By Meg Conlan-Donnelly

Meg Conlan-Donnelly is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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