A man holding a knife and fork next to an empty plate

I was quite shocked to read the latest edition of the Harvard Business Review (HBR). It had a series of articles about how Digital is shaping the current corporate landscape. The  main conclusion seemed to be that it is not. The fact is that billions are wasted daily on digital technologies that will never deliver any benefit.

The articles noted indicated that most CEOs have a limited understanding of Digital and that AI Projects, Data Analytics Projects, and a plethora of Cloud, Machine Learning, Robotics, and other projects are done in total isolation.

The surveys conducted show that while CEOs know that they need digital, they don’t really know why.

There was a paper by McKinsey in this edition of the HBR on how to deliver a successful digital project. It covered critical success factors that needed to be in place for successful Digital Strategy planning and implementation. These factors, in my mind, are incomplete and would have been as pertinent to the implementation of Email in the late 1980s or Enterprise Systems, such as SAP or SalesForce, in the 1990s and 2000s.

If the McKinsey article is to be believed,  this would imply that companies have learnt nothing from past IT implementations and that they need to be reminded of the basic principles of Change Management.

Digital Technologies are defined as “Electronic tools, systems, devices and resources that generate, store or process data”. While there are many tools that have relevance, companies must be able to define a real problem that digital technologies can deliver against. For example, what is the point of big data competitive behaviour analysis, if you don’t know what this will be used for; or robotics that cost more than the cost of the people displaced?

Digital will deliver against a well-defined problem set that there is a need to solve and can be measured against the original problem.

As with my criticism of Enterprise Systems, don’t be the organisation that goes down a digital path that will provide absolutely no benefit.

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