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Digital Business Transformation: A Disaster Story From the Streets

By Dominic Mazzone | Mar 8, 2016

A Disaster Story from the streets

Years ago, we planted our flag on Digital Business Transformation and what happens? The business world goes on a digital transformation bender that’s more reckless than a Vegas bachelor party with Charlie Sheen during the "winning" craziness. The good news is that many companies are starting to realize that they need to consider digital business transformation as a critical component of their survival. The bad news is that some of it is just plain misguided.



Recently we were asked to work with a company that needed help because they 

This was a retail company that decided it needed a transformation and their answer was to allocate a ton of budget to it. What they got was a ton of budget lost and more pain then they ever could have imagined.  Here is where it all went wrong:went on a very dark transformation road. We’re talking Mel Gibson, Nick Nolte, and old Bieber kind of dark.  


  1. They were so motivated to start moving on digital transformation, that they didn’t spend enough time asking what it is their customers wanted out of their transformation. This should always, always, always be the first consideration. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake.

  2. Since they didn’t conceptualize very well, they couldn’t communicate a clear transformation message to their employees. Thus creating apathy and a lot of eye rolling once they started down the path and simply the employees of the company were not on their side.

  3. Someone told them that digital marketing is digital business transformation. Wrong!

  4. It turns out that the resource they brought in was a digital marketer, and not a digital strategist. Hence, the issue with #3.

  5. They wanted to digitize their inventory management to cut costs, so their IT department convinced the executive team that their business was so special, they needed a custom system. Totally wrong as there are plenty of off the shelf systems that could have handled it.

  6. They wanted to build an app that would allow for an individual to get their custom measurements from their phone. Since they were burning money on everything else, they wanted to save money and went with an overseas programmer that didn’t have a North American presence. Well, pretty much everything got lost in translation including their hefty deposit.

  7. After figuring out that their digital marketer wasn’t very good on strategy they fired him. That part was good, however, when it came time to light up digital marketing, that is when they actually needed him but instead, tried to implement it on their own without any expertise. Budget burned like the Burning Man Festival without all the fun.

  8. They decided that they needed a new website which was actually true. However, their web company was good at coming up with pretty pictures and not functional design. They now have a very pretty website that is totally confusing to the customer and doesn’t generate sales.


The list could really keep on going, but it’s clear to see that their road to digital business transformation was based on poor conceptualization, poor planning and poor execution. So what does that really mean? Simply, digital transformation requires the right people because you need the mental capital to pull it off, and you also need a motivated and dedicated culture to care.  


This is not easy and what we see is that about 75% don’t plan or execute well, 20% do plan and execute with good results, and only 5% really knock it out of the park. How you end up in the effective 25% is not magic, and besides needing the necessary skill set, it’s mostly common sense:

  1. A proper strategy
  2. A great execution plan
  3. A great team to execute  

A very simple process for a very difficult path. So instead of going on a Digital Business Transformation bender, get the right strategy, people and plan. You’ll get all the benefits without the hangover.


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Tags: Digital Strategy, Digital Transformation