Tech Upgrades for Business: Why So Many Fail, and Why Yours Doesn’t Have To

Fully integrated machine learning! Digital transformation! Predictive data analytics!

These impressive-sounding phrases may indeed describe the idyllic future of AI systems across the business world. But they paint a misleading picture of what is practically attainable for most companies today. In essence, they describe the view from the mountaintop – while implying that the mountain itself can be climbed in a single step.

Businesses taken in by this language have admirable goals in mind, but too often lack the high levels of talent, institutional support, and innovation-based culture that are pre-conditions for making such a giant leap.

Progress is far more attainable when the way forward is broken up into small, incremental steps. And if talent shortages and other obstacles continue to get in the way, then these organizations can at least focus on more modest, short-term improvements. By more clearly defining their improvement objectives, project scope, and management approach toward providing support, they can lessen the burden on other elements of the company during the upgrade process.

Ambitious projects will always sound more appealing, but their associated complexity leads to a high rate of failure. This recent Forbes article reviews the data, and it isn’t pretty: 75% of ERP projects, 70% of digital transformation efforts, and 90% of all technology projects end in failure. Many (if not most) of them share the same fatal flaw, with organizations trying to reach all the way to the mountaintop in a single leap.

Smaller successes are far easier to achieve, deliver immediate value, and bring excellent ROI. When multiple small projects are strung together, their benefits also have a way of adding up. Victories increase both morale and confidence – and besides, there will always be time to continue the climb later.

The mountain of digital migration and AI-driven data analytics is impressive indeed – both in terms of what it can deliver for business, and the amount of work needed to reach the top. By pacing yourself, and breaking the journey up into small but discreet sections, your business will have the best chance of making it all the way.