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10 Tips to Overcome Obstacles of AI-Enabled Digital Transformation

Source | | Seth Earley

Is AI driving digital transformation? Or is digital transformation driving the adoption of AI? Are they synergistic, or just getting in the way of each other?

Numerous studies show that large organizations are realizing only limited success in digital transformation projects. For example, BCG and McKinsey research have put success rates in the 30% range. [1][2] The pandemic has accelerated some aspects of digital transformations, since the ability to work remotely required new tools, technology, and infrastructure. However, it is still unclear whether or not that acceleration is leading to the success of transformation efforts beyond the ability to work remotely.

In many cases, acceleration has simply meant getting a program initiated and deployed quickly, but at the cost of increased technical debt and less attention to foundational processes and data quality. As one large global professional services firm tech leader explained to me, “We’ve done two years of transformation in a matter of weeks.” That might sound good, but in reality, it is not possible to do so without cutting some corners.

The stats for the success of AI programs are not great either. According to 2021 research by IBM cited in a recent Sloan Management Review article on AI[3], just over 20% of surveyed organizations have deployed AI throughout the enterprise. Other research cited in the article indicates that 40% of organizations that have made significant investments in AI have not realized business benefits. In other words, 60% of organizations that have significant investments in AI have realized business benefits. Some pundits claim that AI accelerates and improves the success of digital transformations.[4] However, a 2018 McKinsey study reported that only 23% of organizations with successful digital transformations are leveraging AI technology.[5] The majority of successful transformations appear to have been so without explicitly leveraging AI technology.

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