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The $900 billion reason GE, Ford and P&G failed at digital transformation

Two-thirds of businesses recognize their company must digitize by 2020 in order to stay competitive. GE, Ford and other major players poured $1.3 trillion into transformation initiatives, 70% of which — or $900 billion —was wasted on failed programs. The biggest reason: failure to effectively communicate their goals, strategy, purpose and outlook with their employees.

Source | | Keith Kitani

Digital transformation is more than a buzzword for modern businesses—it’s a necessity for remaining viable as the future of work becomes increasingly mobile, agile and global. In fact, two-thirds of businesses recognize their company must digitize by 2020, in order to stay competitive.

Despite its critical importance, a surprising number of transformation efforts are failing, even at some of the world’s most profitable, innovative organizations. Last year alone, companies poured $1.3 trillion into transformation initiatives — 70% of which was wasted on failed programs at companies like GE, Ford and Procter & Gamble. Among those that didn’t fail outright, only 16% saw improvements in their performance and ability to sustain change over the long haul. Even for digital-first industries like high-tech, media and telecom, only 26% saw success.

Much has been written dissecting the reasons for digital transformation failure — most experts have settled on people/employees, organizational culture and leadership as weak links. But few acknowledge the real common thread: communication breakdown.

The truth is, people aren’t the problem; it’s the organization’s failure to communicate effectively with its people that sets them up for digital transformation trouble from the start.

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