“If indifference is the kiss of death for a relationship, then complacency is the kiss of death for a business, so I call lack of urgency the biggest barrier toward adoption of a digital maturity model.”
So said a customer service executive at a Tier 1 operator who we interviewed for our recent research report, Digital transformation: Navigating the way to success.
We asked 64 service providers for their progress on digital transformation, including the major barriers and critical success factors.
It’s clear that many of the barriers are related to leadership and organizational strategy, with the top three all closely linked to management.
Follow the leader
Analyst Rob Rich, who wrote the report, said, “Vision and goals are certainly the responsibility of top management. They are particularly important in the planning phase, but may change over time as the transformation program rolls out. Overall support for transformation projects is also the responsibility of the company’s top brass.”
A customer experience executive at a Tier 2 operator in Asia, told us, “Top management will get out of this program exactly what they put into it. If they are not deﬁning it, directing it and making sure it stays on track, they will not get what they are looking for.”
Complexity is another top management concern. Tolerance for unnecessary complexity can be viewed as a weakness, while pushing for simplicity is considered a strength. Telefónica and KPN have achieved dramatic results in a relatively short period of time by focusing on simpliﬁcation.
The next three challenges – cultural issues, availability of skills and urgency – are organizational issues that also can be linked back to leadership. Cultural issues landed the No. 4 spot, reinforcing the selection of culture as an important dimension of transformation.
As management guru Peter Drucker so famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
The right stuff
We also asked survey respondents to rate ten critical success factors from very important to unimportant. None of them was seen as unimportant and most were rated very similarly, with one factor standing out as critical: top management support.
Organizational alignment, quality of digital strategy, culture and simpliﬁcation were all rated very similarly, and all these map to the biggest challenges operators are facing. Having an industry roadmap came in at No. 6, but its rating was within 10 percent of the second highest-rated factor.
Find out more here about the work TM Forum is doing with members to create an industry roadmap for digital transformation.
Lower in the rankings but still important are data management and governance/change management, which tied for seventh place.
Rich says, “These are important given the level and complexity of change required. Accurate, timely data is important in guiding not only the transformation, but also the strategy and operation of the transformed organization. Adequate budget and ﬁnancial resources are also clearly key.”
He concludes, “Perhaps surprisingly low on the list of priorities is access to new technology. This is yet another indication that while technology is important, it is superseded by business and cultural issues.”