Reasons why digital projects fail

According to Forbes Business Council estimates, investments in digital transformation last year amounted to more than $1.3 trillion.

By Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori

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Published: Sun 24 Jan 2021, 11:05 PM

Some digital transformation projects fail despite being based on the best, finest and most expensive of technology. It is simply because technology, which is a key factor for success and development, itself may become an obstacle to that development. This rule is more evident in digital transformation projects, as digital transformation is not primarily a technical project. Those who kick-start their digital projects by thinking about technological options are putting the cart before the horse.

Figures are a testament to this fact. According to Forbes Business Council estimates, investments in digital transformation last year amounted to more than $1.3 trillion. Council experts estimated that more than $900 billion of such investments may have been wasted, with little to no return.

Sometimes, managers and officials at companies and government organisations alike are concerned about technology more than they are about the organisation’s goals and vision. Such people focus more on the “how” than the “what”. In other words, they are thinking of choosing the best ways or means to reach a destination they have left undecided until further notice.

An expert at the aforementioned Council wrote that there were two inherent reasons why many organisations failed in their digital projects. The first is that officials usually bet too high on technology as the savior and medium on achieving the impossible., “We have to find the best software, the best content management system and the best hardware, and then everything is for granted!”

The second reason is the hasty use of outsourcing; using consulting firms to solve internal problems or to achieve the corporate objectives. In fact, consultants and companies may be of help in solving problems and developing businesses, but the right start is to look at capabilities, competencies and resources of the organisation.

A team, that spends some time on development, management and problem-solving processes under the umbrella of the organisation and in light of its vision and strategic objectives, is often more capable of diagnosing the status quo, identifying its gaps and proposing appropriate solutions than external consultants can. The organization’s team has got potential and creativity that only need to be activated. This is the secret of successful leadership.

I am certain that every manager or official has what it takes to confirm this philosophy. As for external consultants and technology solutions owners, their importance is secured, provided that they come at the right time.

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori is the Head of Digital Government and Director General, TRA

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