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Balancing Pragmatism and Ambition in Digital Transformation

Pragmatism and ambition are two crucial aspects of a clear digital transformation strategy.

The digital industry has responded to the advent of technologies that drive digital change.

These are technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud services, predictive maintenance, and other innovations.

A period of rapid growth has seen the digital transformation industry establish an 18.2% increase year over year, growing to a 2018 market size of $261 billion

Urbanization and modernization have people relying more on technological advancements both in personal and professional environments, which is assisting the growth of this industry.

However, the workforce is the area of greatest expansion, with more companies leveraging the power of automation and digital analytics to optimize workflow and maximize profits.

And that’s where small businesses—about 82% of them—are making progress on their digital transformation journeys.

Why SMBs are Seeking Digital Transformation

Small businesses are increasingly incorporating digital transformation (DX) strategies to complement other competitive strategies.

Three-quarters of SMBs agree that digital technology was changing the business landscape and 48% are looking for additional ways to add transformative measures to their scope of business

But what are the main benefits, the results-producing qualities that are attracting SMBs to this new way of doing business? Here are a few:

  • Better workflow and workplace efficiencies through artificial intelligence
  • Better digital experiences that can improve customer service
  • Increased productivity and workflow through network connectivity with Internet of Things and Bring Your Own Device
  • Increased productivity and improved bottom line spending through the implementation of flexible and scalable services
  • Increased cybersecurity and data protection
  • On-point data analytics that drive solid business decisions
  • Managed services for enhanced productivity, security, scalability
  • Enhanced sales channels for increased customer engagement

In addition to these, there are overarching reasons for including DX methodologies as part of an SMB business plan, including increased customer retention, simplified workflows, and better overall communication.

Is It Possible to Have Too Much Ambition in Digital Transformation?

With all the benefits of pushing your business toward a digital transformation, it’s no wonder so many business leaders are anxious to get the process started.

However, there is a cautionary note: ambition in digital transformation can be useful—but too much can hinder your business’ progress, contribute to burn out and, ultimately, cause your DX initiative to fail.

Businesses who deploy change for the sake of change are destined to experience the kind of DX fatigue that contributes to employee disengagement and burnout

Moving too fast with change can frustrate and overwhelm employees, contributing to transformation slow-down and even failure over time.

Not only can this derail your DX plan, but you may lose critical talent in the meantime.

Another problem ambition causes in DX implementation is a lack of communication and education regarding strategies.

When leaders seek quick and wholesale implementation, they often overlook the critical aspect of cultivating employee buy-in at the outset by providing information and education about upcoming changes.

DX often causes a shift in workflow and structure at the outset of implementation.

Communication and education are critical ways to ensure employees understand how conquering the initial frustration of learning a new system will eventually impact their workflow in a positive way.

What Does It Mean to Be Pragmatic in Digital Transformation?

Applying a pragmatic approach to your organization’s digital transformation means looking at the necessary changes in a practical manner.

This begins with compiling a robust and well-thought-out strategy before any element of transformation is undertaken—and communicating your plans to employees throughout all levels of business to ensure buy-in.

At the strategy development stage, a pragmatist will remember that digital transformation doesn’t have to mean wholesale change within an organization, nor does it mean implementing technologies that you are uncomfortable with.

The primary and exclusive purpose is to serve you and your business positively with no exceptions.

That means that it’s okay to start small and build on those changes to ensure an appropriate shift in culture is occurring alongside the implementation of digital strategies.

Common examples of starter DX initiatives would be migrating an email server to the cloud or moving company data to the cloud.

Once these are in place and employees are comfortable with the new method of operation, it’s safe to continue to build and develop your digital infrastructure further.

Having a long-term strategy in place is crucial—DX is a marathon and not a sprint.

Business leaders often fail in their plans because they expect too much too soon and fail to see it as a long-term project, instead prioritizing for short-term gains.

Instead, focus on building a digital transformation team to implement DX initiatives in a progressive, orderly manner for optimal results.


  • SMBs find many benefits to DX, including improved customer engagement and retention, optimized workflows, increased productivity, and boosted revenue
  • This can cause some SMBs to move too fast on their DX strategies, causing DX fatigue and even failure
  • Ultimately, ambition must be tempered with a pragmatic, or practical, approach to DX
  • Slow, incremental approaches to DX combined with increased communication among employees, produce optimal results

Impact is one of the leading independent managed service providers in the country. We’ve been in the business of helping SMBs realize their goals for 20 years, and we will continue to do so for many years.

The wealth of expertise we have at Impact is one of the many reasons our thought-leadership blog is recognized as one of the Top 25 Digital Transformation blogs by Feedspot.

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