7 Digital Transformation Traps: #2 Insufficient Expertise

7 Digital Transformation Traps: #2 Insufficient Expertise

Digital transformations are notoriously difficult — according to McKinsey, 70% of them fail. But this statistic might not be particularly meaningful to you if you’re a product leader. After all, aren’t product teams at the forefront of developing new technology?

It’s a mistake to believe that product organizations don’t need to concern themselves with digital transformation, though. Just consider some of the insights we uncovered in our most recent Product Excellence Report:

  • 57% of respondents are focused on driving innovation and delivering the right products
  • 49% are focused on driving efficiencies across the product organization
  • 48% of product leaders said identifying bottlenecks, clearing blockers, and helping teams ship faster were their top challenges

These answers reveal that many of the challenges faced by product leaders and teams could benefit from digital transformation. 

Here’s our take: avoiding digital transformation is simply not an option. Put it off for too long and you risk losing your competitive edge, falling behind industry disruptors, and missing out on opportunities for growth and innovation. You’ll also struggle to attract top talent. This is a make-or-break scenario where you must adapt or face the consequences of stagnation and irrelevance.

Productboard has teamed up with Umbrage to combine our expertise in product management and digital transformation strategy to help you navigate the seven most common pitfalls organizations face on their digital transformation journey. 

In this post, we’re looking at Trap #2: Insufficient Expertise.

Trap #2: Insufficient Expertise

A growing hurdle on the path to digital transformation is the scarcity of knowledgeable individuals and expertise — including the lack of a customer-centric mindset, the knowledge required to architect the latest technologies, and insufficient experience in large-scale change management. As a result, you might end up with suboptimal solutions that fall short of strategic objectives and leave your organization with a limited understanding of your customers.

To address this challenge, you can explore external resources, such as advisory networks (we may be a bit biased, but we believe Product Makers is a great one!), professional services, and/or digital product studios like Umbrage, to access industry experts and thought leadership. These experts can play a pivotal role in supporting use case ideation sessions, assessing business value, and identifying best-of-breed tools and technologies for building or acquiring digital products. 

How to Get Started

Start by collaborating with the rest of the business to identify dedicated, high-performing individuals with domain knowledge who can contribute to your program’s success. One caveat to keep in mind (and it’s a big one), is that many professionals have a solid understanding of their specific function within the business, but they may lack expertise in pivoting to a new business area. While they are well-versed in their respective roles, they might not have a holistic view of how all the digital initiatives come together to drive the transformation.

Having individuals with a deep understanding of the business is crucial for successfully implementing digital transformation. However, it presents a challenge because these individuals are also integral to the day-to-day operations of the existing business. This necessitates careful consideration and trade-offs to ensure you achieve the right balance between dedicating resources to the digital transformation efforts and maintaining the smooth functioning of the core business.

Some forward-thinking organizations have pioneered the concept of communities, proactively offering opportunities for top performers to expand their skill set and acquire new domain knowledge. These communities are structured with groups of innovators, adopters, and implementers, providing a framework for individuals to disrupt traditional approaches. 

You can empower these talented individuals to conduct stakeholder research, perform customer segmentation, and gain deep insights into customer needs. By harnessing the expertise of these individuals, you can drive innovation at your organization and ensure alignment with customer expectations.

Leveraging external networks and nurturing dedicated high-performing individuals with domain expertise helps you ensure that your transformation efforts are driven by deep industry understanding and customer-centric strategies. You might also consider bringing in outside experts to help teach by example and build product management, design, and engineering capabilities in house.

We’ve just scratched the surface here. If you want to avoid the other traps and set your organization up for success with your digital transformation, download our eBook for even more tips and tricks.

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