Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation Failure: Avoiding Fatigue

Digital transformation failure can happen because of project fatigue, a common occurrence. Learn about how you can avoid your plan running out of steam.

Blog Post

6 minutes

Oct 04, 2019

Mitigating Digital Transformation Failure Is Essential to Your Success


Global digital transformation (DX) spending is forecasted to increase between 15 and 20 percent from 2017 to 2022. This strong growth is capturing the attention of all sectors of industry, with businesses from manufacturing and retail to finance, among others, using DX to optimize processes.


And that’s where the trouble begins. A large number—around 70%—of companies experience digital transformation failure.


While some failures are due to common missteps such as focusing on size rather than quality, separating digital services from the rest of the company, and not considering company culture, many are caused by one simple factor—digital transformation fatigue.


Digital Transformation Fatigue


Digital transformation fatigue occurs when teams fail to understand the “why” of their company’s digital transformation strategy.


This lack of understanding, which can occur for a number of reasons, often results in inertia, passive resistance, and other roadblocks that slow down the DX momentum.


That lag in momentum is the impetus for digital transformation fatigue, and nowhere is this more prevalent than among SMBs, where companies feel competitive pressure to keep up with larger, more financially robust entities.


However, it is consumer actions within the larger marketplace that are driving the shift to digital transformation.


That means to successfully navigate DX, SMBs need solid customer data and targeted research into market trends ahead of pursuing changes.


Changing for the sake of change causes fatigue and contributes to employee burnout.


Teams engaged in transformation want to know that their efforts are creating real and lasting improvements in business processes—and they need to see positive change in their everyday working routines.


Two things that can help stop DX failures are slowing down the transformation process and paying attention to business analytics to track results and make use of actionable data.


Too Much, Too Fast


While moving quickly to realize results faster might seem tempting, introducing many new and complex systems at once can overwhelm and frustrate employees, leading to a counterproductive result.


It takes time to adjust to, and build confidence in, the need for an overarching change.


To avoid digital transformation failure, leaders and employees at every level must be prepared to accept personal ownership for the success of the transformation.


Building that kind of commitment takes time, but it’s worth it to slow down and engage stakeholders so they understand why the change is necessary, the ramifications of the change, and that the change is possible.


For this reason, it’s often a good idea to start small. For example, migrating your ERP or adopting an entirely new enterprise application service is a big task.


Migrating your email server, however, is a simple job and provides instant ROI. Starting small and building up is a great way of getting your strategy off to a positive start.


Next, companies should focus on changes that can lead to better experiences for employees and customers, implementing them incrementally early on for added, measurable value.


Finally, multi-year projects should be broken down into smaller, easily reachable, goals.


This keeps companies agile enough to respond to individual projects without the fast-paced change that often destabilizes entire strategies.


Prioritize Business Objectives


Instead of moving full speed ahead, it’s a good idea for companies to prioritize the areas of their business they’d like to concentrate on.


From there, they can build a high-level plan to target those areas that’s detailed and actionable.


Upper level leadership should take the time to develop a clear vision, or roadmap, of how the business intends to tackle the complex process of transformation.


Typically, there are four areas of focus during a digital transformation. Automation, like that which improves workplace efficiency, is a strong first pillar and can provide opportunities for employees to shift attention to higher-level tasks.


Next, evaluating business operations to determine how digital transformation solutions can help coordinate schedules, open communications channels, and increase productivity is appropriate.


At this point, evaluators can look to the customer experience and ways to increase customer contact and involvement.


Finally, the fourth, and perhaps most critical, area of focus is to protect valuable data from attackers through appropriate implementation in cybersecurity.


Partnering with an MSSP is an excellent way of shoring up your company security.


Collaborate and Communicate


Digital transformation is not just about technology—it’s about corporate change that grows from deep within an organization, beginning with the corporate culture.


Corporate culture changes begin at the top, and that’s where the communication must also begin.


strong internal communication system is vital to building a culture primed to handle the many changes associated with a digital transformation strategy.


Not only must communication flow throughout the organization, but it must engage all departments and all stakeholders to be truly effective—and counteract digital transformation failure caused by siloing.


Each department will bring a fresh perspective to the transformation.


Giving employees a voice allows them the ability to actively engage in the project rather than simply being told what to do.


This, in turn, cuts down on passive resistance and assists in driving changes more effectively.


Cross-department communication encourages better workflow and highlights various parts of the transformation.


It can also allow for deeper understanding and a more targeted delivery of the value customers want and need.


This type of connectivity duplicates the world of today’s consumers, allowing your company a better understanding of your customer’s digital needs.


Build Workforce Capabilities


Once you have established coordinated communication and set your sights upon a roadmap of change, it’s time to build your team’s capabilities to better handle the upcoming transformation and prevent fatigue.


Besides reinforcing a corporate culture that embraces change, it’s important to create a team of employees with the right skills, knowledge, and processes to lead the way.


This leadership team will personify the culture of change and assist in creating a network of intra-corporate teams that can steer progress.


Using recognition to motivate, offering career advancement, and strengthening up those lines of communications are all important ways to help increase employee buy-in to your digital transformation project.


You can also begin with low-risk projects to help employees realize progress toward larger goals and build momentum.


Finally, to avoid slowdowns and setbacks, it’s important to know how much the project will cost and allocate a portion of the budget to help keep the transformation in motion.


This is one of the reasons partnering with an MSP is a great option: you will have a fixed-fee program with no surprises and clear objectives.




  • Digital transformation is on the rise. Along with it, companies are experiencing failed digital transformation at an alarmingly high rate—nearly 70%.
  • Moving too quickly is often the cause of digital transformation fatigue or failure. Try to see DX as a marathon rather than a sprint.
  • To begin, prioritize areas of business in which to elicit change and then build a high-level, actionable plan that focuses on these key areas.
  • Internal communication is critical for DX. Involvement from the top-down helps change corporate culture across the organization for smoother handling of DX projects and inter-departmental collaboration is key for success.
  • Develop and nurture the talents and skills needed to facilitate DX, giving employees the tools they need to make changes to established working processes smoother.


Thinking it’s time to talk to someone about your company’s IT? Get in touch with Impact’s Managed IT team to speak to one of our experts today!


Digital TransformationStreamline Processes


Impact Insights

Sign up for The Edge newsletter to receive our latest insights, articles, and videos delivered straight to your inbox.

More From Impact

View all Insights