In today’s dynamic and ever-changing business landscape, staying ahead of the competition is essential for companies to thrive. The concept of digital transformation has gained immense popularity in recent years, as organisations rush to embrace new technologies and processes to keep pace with the rapidly evolving times. However, despite the widespread adoption of these initiatives, studies indicate that 70% of such projects fail to deliver the anticipated results, leaving companies perplexed about the reasons behind these failures. The solution lies in adopting a human-centred approach that revolves around understanding the genuine needs of stakeholders. By Paul Meersman (pictured) , Head of Marketing, CDS 

Who are the stakeholders?

Stakeholders encompass individuals or groups who hold a vested interest in the outcomes of a project or initiative. These stakeholders can include employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, regulators, and even the larger community. Each group of stakeholders has distinct needs and expectations that must be carefully considered when implementing a digital transformation program.

Why is it crucial to comprehend stakeholder needs?

One of the gravest mistakes made by companies is assuming that they know precisely what their stakeholders need or want. This assumption often leads to a one-size-fits-all approach that fails to address the specific requirements of individual groups, potentially alienating people with unique requirements.

When it comes to a transformation project, businesses must therefore recognise the diversity among individuals, including their varied backgrounds, abilities, and levels of digital literacy. It is essential to ensure inclusivity and accessibility in digital solutions. For example, a company might believe that introducing a new digital platform will enhance customer access to its services. However, for the platform to truly succeed, it must also be user-friendly and offer the necessary features that customers actually need and can utilise with ease. 

To avoid this potential pitfall, it is vital to engage with stakeholders early on in the process through comprehensive user research. This entails actively listening to their concerns, understanding their pain points, and gathering feedback on their expectations for the new digital solution. This valuable information can then guide the design and development of the program, ensuring that it effectively meets the needs of all stakeholders. Such thorough research also plays a pivotal role in providing reliable insights that inform decision-making and mitigate the risks associated with change. 

Companies should initiate this process by posing key questions to ascertain the current performance of their services, understand stakeholder and user perspectives, identify future requirements, and establish metrics for measuring change, among other crucial aspects.

In addition to gathering feedback, it is equally important to provide strong and transparent leadership that effectively communicates the reasons behind any change, as well as the expected outcomes. Far too often, directives are ‘handed down’ from above without sufficient explanation, which not only alienates employees directly involved or impacted by the change but can also generate resistance across the organisation.

Open communication is therefore the cornerstone of understanding the needs of all parties involved. Businesses should maintain regular and ongoing communication with stakeholders, from the outset, and throughout the implementation process. This includes providing regular updates on progress, acknowledging and addressing any concerns as they arise, and actively seeking further feedback when necessary. By keeping stakeholders well-informed and involved, companies can foster trust and ensure that the program stays on track.

Stakeholders needs are multifaceted 

It is also important to recognise that different stakeholder groups may have conflicting priorities. For example, employees may prioritise a new digital solution that simplifies their workload, while shareholders may be more focused on increasing profits. Achieving a balance between these competing priorities often requires careful consideration and a willingness to work collaboratively.

To succeed, it requires teamwork across different departments, and in some instances, compromise. Organisations should tap into varying expertise, insights and learned experiences to break down potential silos and foster a culture of innovation and collaboration across the board. This will also empower and engage all team members in the transformation process.

Lastly, a long-term perspective should be maintained. Digital transformation programs are not isolated events but ongoing processes that require continuous improvement and adaptation. This means that companies must remain committed to gathering ongoing feedback and evolving the program over time to ensure its future success.


Embracing human-centric digital transformation

A successful digital transformation program hinges on the ability to comprehend and address the genuine needs of stakeholders – not merely perceived challenges and opportunities. By actively engaging stakeholders from the outset, gathering user insights, maintaining transparent communication throughout, managing competing priorities, and adopting a forward-looking perspective, companies can ensure that their initiatives deliver the desired value, and ultimately ROI. 

Organisations that effectively navigate the digital transformation journey stand to reap substantial benefits, including improved customer experiences, enhanced operational efficiency, and newfound growth opportunities. 

Insight, serving as an invaluable asset, empowers businesses to create and deliver customised products and services that truly cater to user needs, propelling them towards achieving their objectives and ensuring sustainable success. And as the digital landscape continues to shape the business environment, organisations that prioritise stakeholder needs will emerge as the frontrunners positioned for future success.