Digital Transformation Is More Than Swapping Selling Systems

5 challenges to overcome to ensure a successful digital transformation

Digital transformation touches every aspect of your business.

Companies such as Intrepid Travel (the largest small group adventure travel company in the world), which according to a recent Skift article, “is upping its technology budget for 2023 by 189% from 2019”.

As a point of reference, the global tour operator software market size and share was valued at approximately USD 500 Million in 2020 and is projected to hit the revenue of around USD 1,200 Million by 2026. - GlobeNewswire

But “Many tour operators still have a lot of manual process in place as soon as products get more personalized it gets even more difficult in the post-booking area”. Manuel Hilty, CEO Nezasa, said. Hilty states automation as a significant area tour operators need to improve in, citing the difficulty of automating booking changes both pre-departure and during a trip.

“Tour operators need more strategy than simply swapping one system for another, instead looking across the entire business resulting in a complete digital transformation” - Vidar Svansson, the CEO of Kaptio


Removing friction and staying ahead of the competition


We agree, removing as much friction as possible with the supply chain - making it easier for suppliers to add new products to the stack, and giving customers access to the products is key. Some travel companies that tried tackling development themselves have struggled to find a “nirvana” solution or one with fewer barriers. 

Unfortunately, there are great travel companies that are hindered by legacy technology as time moves forward. Every day they wait, another competitor is springing up in the travel space, many that are technology-led and free from legacy systems. Essentially, they arrive digitally transformed, offering a stronger customer experience. The list of amazing start-ups this year at the Travolution Start-up Summit will give you a taste of what’s out there.

Many times, the change in your selling system often starts the search for a more robust technology but looking at what your entire business needs from sales, operations, marketing, customer service, and virtually everywhere you have a customer touchpoint is critical. And for a successful digital transformation data consolidation should a priority when implementing new tech.

But where do you start?


5 challenges to overcome to ensure a successful digital transformation


The leadership team often sees digital transformation as potential with high cost and risk. A study from Boston Consulting Group suggested that nearly 70% of digital transformation efforts fail; no wonder it can be daunting. This does not need to be the case. You can spread both the risk and cost by creating phases while keeping an eye on the strategic big picture. 

Digital transformation puts technology at the core of the business strategy. This approach can generate a 20-30% increase in customer satisfaction and economic gains of 20-50%, reducing operating expenses and inefficiency. In a recession such as we are seeing right now, inefficiency and staff shortages and the impact on revenue must be at the forefront for all business leaders.


Below we discuss 5 challenges you are likely to encounter and what action you can take to overcome them.

1. Executive buy-in—Simply put, with no executive buy-in, your transformation will not succeed.  

Solution: Identify your key stakeholders and ensure they have the right level of influence in the business. Note that not all of your key stakeholders will be execs, but you will need exec buy-in to succeed.


2. Resistance to change—Users often feel that change is a threat. Companies will have key staff who can cause a massive disruption to the business. Very often, they have created an industry whereby they are seen as the “oracle” for a particular function and won’t let anyone in.  

Solution: In these situations, you need to identify this behaviour early in the process and welcome some of the detractors into the project, tapping their knowledge and making them feel valued and part of the transformation. Show them how the transformation will support them. Shut them out at your peril!


3. Trust—Many projects fail because of a mistrust of the IT team. It goes without saying that IT has a hard enough job. When anything goes wrong, IT will usually be the first port of call and often receive the blame. Many teams I have worked with are very suspicious of IT, not least because they question, “what does IT know about marketing” or “what does IT know about sales?” It is important to include stakeholders from each department in your project is important to get them to buy into it.  

Solution: Use the stakeholder sessions to show that you are receptive and even when you think you know more than your stakeholders, be very open, curious, and consultative rather than taking a “you don’t know what you are talking about!” stance. Be assertive and make it very clear that if they want to be involved with the project, they will need to make the time to attend regular update sessions and provide regular feedback. Your stakeholders need to be open to change and commit to change.


4. User adoption—User adoption is the most important part of rolling out new systems.  

Solution: One solution is to remove legacy system access, so users run on the new system and not in parallel with the legacy system. Encourage and be open to feedback and be agile enough to make tweaks and changes to support them.


5. Deliver, deliver, deliver—Make sure you meet user expectations and deliver, preferably deliver earlier than anticipated.

Solution: It’s easy to underpromise and overdeliver, but a well-planned project will allow you to deliver that bit extra with each release. Executives and senior stakeholders will want to know that their investment is delivering results. Trickle feed updates and new features through your regular online comms channels (Slack, Messenger, Teams).


There is no silver bullet for digital transformation - and there is no one-size-fits-all approach for every company. Each organisation must create a unique strategy based on its industry, market position, competitive pressures and customer demands. With the right road map, digital transformation can help technology be a primary driver of business innovation and growth. When combined with a greater focus on communication, cross-functional collaboration and exponential talent, any business can truly transform itself. Unify agency can build a "roadmap for success" to ensure your digital transformation optimises your business with actionable outcomes and streamlined operations.


Sounds good? This is where Unify agency can help. Our team of Unify agency transformation and data experts are highly experienced in working with large organisations where you have different teams with very different needs. Unify agency's mission is to provide the missing link between disconnected systems and data to connect your systems, users and customers and deliver actionable outcomes.

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