Overcoming Analysis Paralysis And Jumpstarting Digital Transformation: 3 Tips

Pamela Dunn

“I used to be indecisive. Now, I’m not sure.”

Yes, it is an old joke. But analysis paralysis is a big problem for executives as they try to navigate the digital disruptions affecting every industry, company, and line of business. Analysis paralysis likely explains a recent survey from Accenture finding that only 5% of organizations are currently digitally proficient and able to use intelligent technologies to differentiate themselves from competitors.

If you are part of that not-yet-proficient group (and wish you weren’t), try these three practical tips for jumpstarting your effort, moving beyond the hype, and turning digital transformation into a practical strategy for driving long-term growth.

Tip 1: Leave errors in the past

Companies want to make progress on digital transformation, but they often have trouble leaving past events where they belong—in the past.

“Customers are spending too much time looking back at what they’ve done,” said Timothy Yates, principal with DataXstream, a technology consultancy that helps companies optimize system architectures and product development and delivery. “They are forgetting about looking forward.”

While it is important to learn from past errors, there is more value in focusing on how to digitally transform your business into an intelligent enterprise. This vision, which includes priorities, processes, and staffing, becomes part of your organization’s roadmap for using intelligent technologies to optimize day-to-day operations.

Tip 2: Perfect is the enemy of good

With few exceptions, companies have a less-than-perfect infrastructure with multiple systems, data silos, and business applications. IT experts sometimes evaluate these environments and recommend building new platforms for enabling digital transformation.

“I liken this to replacing every part on an airplane while it is flying,” remarked Craig Stasila, an SAP platform innovation executive. “Business has to continue and be responsive to customers. At no point can you say, ‘let us just stop and re-platform and make everything perfect.’”

In general, be skeptical of rip-and-replace strategies, since these efforts often are complex, expensive, and time-consuming. It’s usually easier, faster, and more affordable to scale your digital transformation across functions and workflows using on-premise or cloud-based technologies and connectors.

Remember that digital technologies are evolving. Investing in a fully integrated platform is not a guarantee against near-term obsolescence.

Tip 3: Accept that risk is part of agility

Digital transformation is about creating flexibility, speed, and efficiency. It requires implementing intelligent technologies that allow companies to be more agile and deliver better outcomes.

Digital transformation also requires a fair amount of risk tolerance, which can be hard for established companies since their cultures, controls, and processes are already designed to mitigate risk.

To digitally transform, Yates says companies must prioritize problem-solving over risk-avoidance. “Companies that are not used to this agile way of working really need to be looking at modifying processes,” he said. “If you build the teams but do not put in the agile processes, you are just going to make them frustrated.”

Stasila agreed, while also noting that digital transformation is fundamentally about improving outcomes. “That is what all this intelligent enterprise stuff is about,” he added. “It is about better outcomes, better focus, and better visibility. It is having the ability to be agile and deliver those outcomes in a timely fashion.”

Want to learn more? Listen to “Jumping into Intelligent Technologies: How High is the Hurdle?” on SAP Radio, and check out @SAPradio on Twitter.