Digital Transformation • 9 min read

The 5 biggest digital transformation mistakes

Victor Terpstra | 26-11-2019

Digital growth is the term that we’re hearing all around us. As increasingly more organizations in different industries and all around the world are trying to find their bearings in Digital, it’s quickly becoming a game changer. According to a Forrester Research (2015) executives predict that 47% of revenue will come from digital by 2020. That’s a huge number! But what does ‘Digital Growth’ actually mean and what are the five biggest pitfalls to look out for?

Digital growth can be defined in many ways. No matter who you ask or how it is worded, it will essentially come down to the same: using technology to make an existing process or workflow more efficient or effective, delivering more value to customers. Efficiency, effectiveness and added value. It’s easy to see why so many organizations are working towards such a transformation. Three simple words. But is digital growth really that easy though?

At Osudio we help our customers with digital growth every day. In our line of business,  digital growth means helping our customers transform towards digital commerce. Big or small, and for all industries. We advise, strategize, design and implement the best possible solution with a strong focus on user experience. This gives us a head start when it comes to tackling common challenges on the path to digital transformation. And while it certainly isn’t easy, the rewards for companies are substantial. According to the 2018 Salesforce Digital Transformation Survey, the main pros cited were: speed/efficiency of tasks, cost saving and improved customer experience.

So, what are a few of the most common pitfalls we see companies struggle with when starting a transformation? I’ve summed up five that I think can be fixed quite quickly, as they all start and end with the people involved.


One of the most common pitfalls is underestimating the level of commitment that goes into any transformation, including digital. In most cases, a transformation means a complete overhaul of processes that have been in place often since the start of the company, software that has been used for years, reporting tools, team structures, etc. This is not something that can be achieved in weeks or months. Quite often, a transformation can take months to years to prepare everything and everyone for the change to come. Actually, I would even go as far as to say it’s never truly finished. Technology evolves daily and so should we.


Transforming the way you approach your day-to-day business requires a lot of preparation. Seemingly small questions like whether you have online content readily available, can have quite an impact on an impending transformation. Also, consider having a digital team in place that can facilitate other teams in getting used to the new way of working and that has knowledge to share on best practices and use of tools. For example, according to Forbes (2018) we should seriously consider filling roles such as CAO (Chief Analytics Officers), data analysts and engineers to help gather the correct data to gain necessary information and insights. This team setup can prevent common pitfalls such as having a lot of useful data, but not knowing how to use it or failing to structure data for future benefits.


If a digital transformation is aimed at creating more value, then for who are you creating value for? This is often overlooked as companies start by creating business value or monetary value. It should be about creating value for your users. The rest will follow. If your users don’t understand it or can’t use it, it doesn’t matter what the business value is – it will not last. User Experience and Design should not be overlooked in any digital transformation. As designer and writer Frank Chimerro said: “People ignore design that ignores people”.


Although this really comes down to preparation as well, the importance of infrastructure makes it worth to mention it separately. Having the internal infrastructure in place and running smoothly before embarking on a digital transformation, can be one of the single most important steps. Is there CRM data available and where does it come from? How is it structured? Which data is necessary for future endeavors to be successful and is it being stored securely and effectively? This is just one example of a possible infrastructure that needs to be addressed but, if prepared properly, can be the difference between smooth sailing or a bumpy road. As you can imagine, this goes further than just data. It also requires you to think about the future and what might be needed further down the road to keep growing.


This might be the hardest part of any transformation. Old habits die hard. Employees and management get used to processes, tools, systems and just day to day business routines. Successfully transforming an organization will rise or fall with the people who keep it running on a daily basis. If they can’t adjust, your digital transformation won’t happen. In our experience, involvement is essential. Regular updates on status, decisions made, impact for teams and expectations for the coming weeks can be helpful. But also consider training to help employees get acquainted with new tools and software. And besides the practical side of things, you will need to have all departments and teams on board to make your digital transformation succeed. Including the C-level. In the end, there is one common goal and alignment across all levels will help to achieve it.


Of course, this blog can’t be an exhaustive guide to digital growth. It’s a short overview of the key challenges we see companies run into quite frequently. The great part? It all comes from a good place: excitement and enthusiasm to get started! We aren’t trying to discourage anyone from beginning a digital transformation. Quite the contrary, we want you to succeed.  

The key take-away here is that transformations, in all shapes and sizes, aren’t something to take lightly. Being prepared is vital to your success. Take the extra time to get all your ducks in a row because it can save you a few serious bumps further down the road.

Picture of Victor Terpstra

Victor Terpstra

CCO and Darwin initiative co-founder.

Copyright © 2020 Osudio. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use | Privacy policy | Terms of service