Pitfalls on the Path to Digital Transformation: 3 Common Challenges

While the need for digital transformation may be obvious, the pitfalls you’ll encounter along the way may not be.

With software-native companies like Amazon, Uber, and Netflix setting the pace for digital experiences, there’s no escape for traditional businesses who want to stay alive and compete. It’s a Darwinian situation that requires digital transformation or “death.”

To succeed over time requires an ongoing, strategic investment in the people, processes, and technology needed to deliver better digital experiences to customers and employees alike. Research firm IDC predicts that by 2020, 30 percent of the global 2000 will have allocated at least 10 percent of revenue to fuel their digital strategies. An updated statistic reveals that 65% of global GDP is expected to be digitized by 2022.

If you’re among them, this article is for you. While the need for digital transformation may be obvious, the pitfalls and challenges you’ll encounter along the way may not be. So, let’s jump into the three most common digital transformation pitfalls and challenges.

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1. Talent gap

It’s ironic, but in the digital arms race, people make the biggest difference. When you have the right developer talent (paired with the right technology), you’re able to ship new ideas and updates faster, increase sales, improve security, build better customer experiences, and so much more.

With the talent pool growing at a slower rate than the demand for software developers, that means the talent gap is among one of the biggest issues facing business today. In fact, Stripe’s Developer Coefficient survey reported, “Access to developers is a bigger threat to the success of a business than access to capital.”

This is especially true when it comes to native mobile talent. Very few developers are skilled in the native languages and SDKs required to develop iOS and Android apps. On the other hand, there are millions of web and JavaScript developers.

That’s one of the reasons that Ionic, React Native, Xamarin, and other cross-platform frameworks have been so popular. Giving web developers a platform that turns them into native iOS and Android developers is a great way to close the talent gap.

2. Not releasing fast enough

Digital transformation pitfall #2: If you're not shipping, you're not learning. Businesses that want to compete in a software-based economy must deliver frequent updates to their users and iterate based on what they learn with each release. And yet, Forrester notes that, in most enterprises,  “...IT organizations lack the software delivery capability to drive true digital innovation, given that many teams still release applications four times a year or less.”

While company culture plays some role in creating a space for employees to test and learn, it’s also critical to pair processes with technology that supports frequent continuous integration and delivery of new features and updates. One of the top digital transformation challenges listed for enterprises today is an inflexible tech stack.

When the current tech stack was put in place for your organization, was it built to support Agile dev processes and faster release cycles? If not, it may need refactoring to support the expectations of innovation and delivery today. For example, while the enterprises Forrester surveyed are releasing four times a year or less, the average Ionic Appflow user is releasing 3-4 times per month, with some pushing updates to users almost daily.

Whether its automating parts of your workflow, providing a better DevOps solution to your team, or updating your current system to be more agile, it’s critical that you develop the capability to maintain frequent releases, gather and analyze data, and iterate to achieve your goals.

Evaluate your tech stack and processes frequently to ensure they have the ability to adapt to new market expectations and other technologies as they emerge.

3. Choosing a partner, not a vendor

Odds are, you can’t do it all on your own. According to Accenture, 88 percent of firms are using third-party providers for at least one component of digital transformation.

Thus, on the path to digital transformation, it’s critical that you’re not just leveraging the right technology, but also that there are services and partnerships in place to help you solve the hard problems and transform your business over time.

The digital transformation pitfall? Most IT buyers evaluate vendors based strictly on the merits of the product (looking solely at feature checklists, analyst rankings, etc.) without considering the need for a long-term relationship. In fact, less than 30 percent of tech vendors are considered by their customers to be active partners in their digital transformation efforts.

For this reason, Ionic provides a robust set of Advisory services to help our enterprise customers meet their goals. We aren’t just here to sell products, we’re here to help you accomplish your goals - whatever they might be.

When selecting a tech partner, ask if they provide training and expertise as an active participant in your digital transformation efforts. For more reading on this topic, check out our article: 5 Questions to Ask Before Beginning Mobile App Development.

How can you put this into practice?

While the need for transformation is clear to most IT leaders, there are many pitfalls and challenges along the path to digital transformation.

As part of your digital transformation strategy, make sure your approach addresses the growing developer talent gap, provides the flexibility you need to enable rapid development and frequent iteration, and perhaps most importantly, choose technology vendors who are able to partner with you in your ongoing efforts to compete and win in today’s highly competitive market.

Need more information about how Ionic can help with your digital transformation and development goals? Sign up for a strategy session to speak with a Solutions Architect.

About Ionic

Ionic is the leading cross-platform developer solution with 5 million developers worldwide. It powers 15% of apps in the app store, not including thousands of apps built internally at enterprises for every line-of-business need. Ionic is unique in that it takes a web-first approach, leveraging HTML, CSS, and Javascript to build high-quality iOS, Android, desktop, and Progressive Web Apps.

Ionic is a leader in enterprise app development. Thousands of enterprise customers use Ionic to build mission-critical apps for their customers, both external and internal.

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