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…and 1 power to help you conquer them

Aug 7, 2020 – Álvaro Pin, Head of Growth at HATCH

Any digital transformation journey can be overwhelming. For fashion brands, stakes are high these days. Digital experts or not, digitizing any business has plenty of challenges. Unplanned challenges. While planning is important, a solid digital mindset is much more important to succeed. If change were easy, everybody would do it, right? At HATCH, we’ve gone through a lot of surprises digitizing wholesale. Here are some of the challenges in digital transformation that nobody told us about when we started:

#1 You won’t know where to start. Just start

Like a blank page for writers, starting can be hard. Particularly when dealing with change management, there are probably multiple ways to start a digital transformation initiative. Add the pressure of stakeholders and you got yourself a challenge before you even start.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Identifying the right problem to solve can be harder than solving it. The best way to start is with small steps. Set micro-transformations to generate business value faster. Most importantly, let your teams drive these steps. Successful digital transformations are in fact, human transformations.

Remember: Outline your why (your North Star). It will guide you in the right direction in moments of conflict

#2 Avoid any 2/3/5 year plans

When things are uncertain, we turn to plan. Planning is a way to deal with uncertainty. Companies often start digital transformation initiatives with long-term business plans, often to find out that change is uncertain. And you can't plan for change.

Don’t get us wrong: planning is important. The key is to know how much to plan to keep moving. Overplanning makes businesses more rigid and harder to adapt to new challenges. Instead, build feedback loops that give you enough information to iterate and take your digital transformation forward. 

#3 Be ready to disappoint people

While most individuals think their company should undertake a digital transformation, very few understand the real impact on their daily job. Everyone wants their company to be modern, digital, and efficient, but few are really ready for the change effort needed to do so. The Kubler-Ross model defines shock, denial and anger as common first reactions in anybody’s change journey as we deny and fear what lies ahead of us.

What this means is that you’ll meet friction and pushback from your employees and that’s okay. In fact, embrace it. Hear them out, make them feel involved and they will be more committed to change. Never, ever stop involving them. No digital transformation can happen without continuous communication. Did you think we had it easy when we started our Digital Showroom journey 6 years ago?

#4 you'll need to fail a lot in order to succeed

This one is one of the big ones. We often see brands setting up unrealistic standards for the budget, timings, and milestones for their digital transformation initiatives. Fearing failure (and not accounting for it) is one of the biggest challenges in digital transformation.

Successful transformation initiatives account for failure. Good leaders learn from it and refine their strategies accordingly. Failure and success aren't opposite terms, the first leads to the latter. If feedback helps you adapt to change, failing helps adapt quicker. the best way to imbue your business with this power is to set a digital mindset that encourages people to try new things, fail, and learn from them.

# 5 Technology comes last, not first.

Finally, let’s talk about technology. When running a digital transformation it’s common to think about technology first and then the rest. focusing on technology may lead your businesses to miss the start of the show: your people. Don’t forget about them. In fact, start with them.

People are a key piece of your transformation engine. They are critical to driving any business strategy forward and the key to success in digital transformation. They are a source of feedback, a driver in uncertainty, and the enabler of technology. If you involve them right from the start they can generate more value than you can ever imagine and it can be your best way into building a digital mindset culture in your business.

So what do you need to succeed? more experience? new skills? it’s a mindset.

We haven't forgotten about the power. If you'd have to bet everything you've got to one card, choose to nurture a digital mindset in your organization. Look for the people that are willing to be the pioneers and build the foundation of your digital transformation. For fashion brands to succeed in digital transformation, they need to bring their employees to the start of the journey. Leave Project Management Offices behind and ask your teams about their challenges. Avoid big bangs. Instead, take small steps, learn from them, and adapt as you go.

Get as much feedback as you can.

Adapt your plan one step at a time. 

Don’t talk the talk. Walk it.