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5 Reasons Digital Strategies Fail – and 5 Ways Content Management Can Help

Employees building a strategy using paper and digital

Every CEO I speak with is worried about “how digital” their company is, and how they can accelerate the drive to “digitalization.” And yet many strategies come up short.

I came across a recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly that hits the nail on the head – Why Digital Strategies Fail. The authors offer this assessment of the relative success of so many well-intended Digital Transformation initiatives:

“We find that a surprisingly large number underestimate the increasing momentum of digitization, the behavioral changes and technology driving it, and, perhaps most of all, the scale of the disruption bearing down on them. Many companies are still locked into strategy-development processes that churn along on annual cycles. Only 8 percent of companies we surveyed recently said their current business model would remain economically viable if their industry keeps digitizing at its current course and speed.”

The authors describe 5 pitfalls that erode the effectiveness of many Digital Transformation initiatives (responsibility for any misinterpretation of these is mine; make sure to see the original article): 

1. Fuzzy definitions – Many leaders simply don’t say exactly what they mean by “digital,” which lays the foundation for a confused response by their companies.

2. Misunderstanding the economics of digital – Digital changes the fundamental economies of business by shifting power to consumers, creating winner-take-all markets, and disproportionately rewarding first and fast movers.

3. Overlooking ecosystems – The primary source of market domination has shifted from products to platforms (think Amazon), creating an imperative to quickly and agilely combine information capabilities – something legacy systems aren’t particularly good at.

4. Over-indexing on the “usual suspects” – Think of this as the “Uber” phenomenon, a tendency to focus disproportionately on wildcard competitors at the expense of industry incumbents who are willing to cannibalize their existing business, but simultaneously use their scale to drive for new dominance.

5. Missing the duality of digital – This is a bit of a variation on #4, and the risks of thinking that digital requires you do create something brand new – rather than come up with brand new ways of doing existing things.

So what do all of these mean in the context of content and information management?

I believe that the core Digital Transformation imperative facing every organization is this simple one – the need to establish a new pace for innovation by transforming into a digital-first business. There are 5 key ways in which content management fits into this imperative:

Allowing the organization to go paperless. Yes, we’ve had this ambition for years, but many organizations are far away from reaching this goal. And it’s a prerequisite for everything else.

Automating common processes. When knowledge workers no longer need to perform data entry or routing and archiving of documents manually, they can focus on work that drives innovation and profit.

Embracing the mobile workforce. An agile, digital business thrives with the inherent flexibility of mobile workers, and embraces the anytime, anywhere, any-device model of productivity.

Turning compliance requirements into competitive advantage. Compliance mandates around information security and transparency can drive significant business benefits beyond avoiding fines and litigation.

Moving to the cloud. For every organization, the scale, power and mobility of the cloud make it a critical part of the equation.

Your digital strategy and your business strategy are now one in the same. So what are you waiting for?

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