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  • Writer's picturePJ Stevens

Which of these challenges to Business Transformation catch out most people?

Perhaps the first challenge is to understand and agree the difference (and similarity) between

Transformation and Change, as it seems people use these interchangeably, and this is can be an early cause for confusion.

Whilst business transformation and business change are related concepts they tend to differ in their scope, scale and objectives.

What matters is that you and your team have the facilitated conversations to agree the meaning of the terms, but to help, here’s the view my colleagues and I have.

Business change typically is about incremental adjustments, modifications or alterations made within a business to improve processes, products, services or operational efficiency. On the web, a description reads: ‘The term 'business change' refers to a change that impacts a project, initiative, company or solution that the company is introducing. Most changes that businesses choose to implement are processes, which means that they consist of a series of actions that companies take to achieve a goal.’

We advise that any time spent up front agreeing the terms, scope, goals and so forth is very well spent.

Business change initiatives may include adopting new technologies, implementing new policies or procedures, restructuring teams or improving employee skills. On their own, some of these can be quite a challenge on resources, doing several can be too much for some organisations. Understanding the ‘gaps’ in these changes is a key part of delivering successful outcomes.

Business change tends to be more about short-term goals and improvements rather than long-term strategic shifts or transformations.

Therefore, business transformation, is a more long term. It involves fundamental and comprehensive changes to your organisation's strategy, processes, culture and sometimes even its core business model. For reference, we have gathered useful data from clients that ‘culture’ is one of the key blockers or enablers of success. Culture can feel like a nebulous concept, next to shiny new tech, and there it might feel easier to ignore, but do so at your peril.

Transformation typically requires an holistic approach and may involve rethinking and reshaping every aspect of the organisation to adapt to new market conditions, technological advancements or shifts in consumer behaviour. Business transformation initiatives often aim to achieve significant, sustainable and long lasting improvements in performance, competitiveness and market positioning.

Perhaps the move from High Street Banking to Digital business model might be considered a transformation. The current plans by Cumberland Building Society to shift to a brand new platform will be a significant move.

Unlike business change, which involves incremental adjustments, business transformation often involves disruptive changes and requires a strategic vision and long-term commitment from organisational leaders.

While both business change and business transformation involve making changes within an

organisation, the key differences lie in the scope, scale and objectives of the initiatives. Business change typically involves incremental improvements, whereas business transformation involves more fundamental and comprehensive changes aimed at driving significant, long term improvements in the organisation's performance, well-being and competitiveness.

Business transformation is a complex process that involves adapting to changes in technology, market dynamics, consumer behaviour and organisational structure. Some of the most important challenges that we see businesses face in transforming include:

  • One of the biggest challenges in transformation is resistance from employees who are comfortable with existing processes and systems, and are stuck in the ‘this is the way we have always done it’ mind set. Resistance can further stem from fear of job loss, uncertainty about new technologies, fear of having to learn new skills or simply a reluctance to change because they don’t understand or want it. Always worth remembering the value and impact of properly communicating the ‘WIIFM’ with employees to raise engagement.

  • Many businesses struggle with outdated legacy systems and processes that are not easily compatible with newer technologies or methodologies. Integrating new systems with existing ones can be costly and time consuming. Having a clear understanding of where you are now, where you want to be, and an agreed plan of attack will help significantly. Don’t laugh at this obvious advice, as we often see disagreement or misalignment at the senior level at this early stage.

  • With the rapid advancement of technology, businesses face the challenge of keeping up with digital disruption in their industry. Companies must constantly innovate and adapt to stay competitive in the digital landscape. Look at the Banking industry for example or more broadly, ticket booking such as flights and trains. What is the cost of not being digitally savvy?

  • Businesses are increasingly collecting vast amounts of data, but managing and protecting this data presents significant challenges. Ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA is crucial, and data breaches can have severe consequences for businesses. Uber (2016) disclosed a data breach that occurred in 2014, affecting 57 million users worldwide. The breach exposed personal information of both customers and drivers, including names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to delete the information. Thus, any change or transformation that involves potential data risk must be well managed.

  • Finding and retaining talent with the necessary skills for transformation is a major challenge for businesses. There is often a shortage of professionals with expertise in areas such as data analytics, cybersecurity and digital marketing. A study by the World Economic Forum highlighted that the shortage of digital skills is a significant barrier to digital transformation, with around 54% of employees requiring significant re-skilling or up-skilling.

  • Successful implementation of any organisational change requires a shift – big or small - in company culture. This can be challenging, as it requires commitment from employees at all levels of the organisation and may involve overcoming entrenched attitudes and behaviours. In a recent piece of work with a client, we identified the single biggest risk to delivering a £300M tech change was Culture. Four of the top ten ‘risks’ were culture based, and the business was least prepared to manage these risks.

  • Transformation initiatives often require significant financial and human resources. Limited budgets and competing priorities can make it difficult for businesses to allocate resources effectively to support transformation efforts. Few clients seem to understand or grasp this, often starting on a transformation without having properly assessed needs and allocated appropriate resources. Is it any wonder transformations rarely meet expectations.

  • Customer expectations are constantly evolving, driven by changes in technology and market trends. Businesses must transform to meet these changing expectations, delivering personalised experiences and seamless omnichannel interactions, or risk becoming less relevant.

  • We know businesses operate in an increasingly complex regulatory environment, with regulations governing areas such as data privacy, cybersecurity and environmental sustainability. Ensuring compliance with these regulations while undergoing transformation can be a significant distraction.

  • Business transformation initiatives carry inherent risks which range from project delays and cost overruns to poor leadership and failure to achieve desired outcomes. Businesses must effectively identify, understand and manage these risks precisely in order to minimise negative impacts on their operations and reputation, and increase the likelihood of success. Being to re-focus attention to where it is needed will directly help to mitigate these risks, save time and money, and drive up performance and value.

Which of these challenges do you think catch out most people? Or perhaps more importantly, which one(s) are more likely to challenge you and your change or transformation.

Addressing these challenges requires a comprehensive or holistic approach that involves proactive leadership, clear communication and a willingness to embrace change throughout the organisation. Successful transformation requires careful planning, execution and ongoing monitoring and adjustment to ensure that objectives are met and value is realised. Perhaps most importantly, it requires a good foundation – culture - that better enables change and transformation, after all its people who drive a business forwards, slow it down or even put it in reverse.

To help you tip the balance of success in your favour in any change or transformation, we have developed a 5-Step Process (tried and tested at Cranfield) called EXACT.

EXACT will help you save time and money, improve performance and enable you to move faster to value.

Book a meeting with me to discuss how my EXACT process can lead change and transformation in your business today:

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