The business landscape has become so unforgiving these days that leaders now have to put competitive advantage at the forefront of their agenda. As such, all businesses are keen on ramping up their digital adoption efforts, seeking to leverage technologies like cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence to give them that 'edge'.

It's no surprise that Global IT spending is expected to reach $3.8 trillion this year, but unfortunately, 70 percent of transformative attempts fail. For smaller ventures, access to resources can play a major role as aggressive company-wide digital adoption isn't exactly cheap to implement. For larger organizations, their size and complexity make the introduction of new systems and tools challenging. The reality is, inertia and status quo bias can also stymie efforts -- but there are ways to overcome the barriers.

1. Focus on value, first

Becoming early adopters of disruptive technologies can be advantageous. Take Amazon and Netflix, for example. By successfully integrating big data and machine learning, they were able to develop and train their recommendation engines. These engines have helped both companies better engage customers and are largely responsible for their growth and dominance in their respective markets.

Retailers, for example, could benefit from using big data and machine learning to optimize their supply chains. Manufacturers can leverage the Internet-of-Things (IoT) to better automate their processes. Regardless of industry, focus on the value, first. Then you can start the relevant planning.  

2. Get stakeholder and investor buy-in 

Digital adoption involves disrupting the status quo -- and being comfortable with that at all levels of leadership. Technologies can sometimes be forced upon by leadership and management, creating resistance across the ranks, leaving organizations to struggle should friction arise.

Shareholders and investors must be made to understand and appreciate these changes and the process that goes into shifting to digital. GE attempted to build an ambitious IoT platform called Predix several years ago--the platform was intended to generate software sales for the company. While there were gains internally, the effort eventually fell short of expectations. GE's stock fell flat and the company started selling off its digital assets in 2018. Point being, the implications are very real, and even shareholders and investors need to be 'in the digital loop'. 

3. Employees: stop going rogue 

Did you know that as much as 80 percent of employees use non-approved applications at work? Unauthorized applications may be security risks that could threaten the integrity of the entire network.

Efforts must be made by leaders to be on top of all digital activities within their organizations. Measures must be put in place to allow for the audit and review of all applications in use. This way, the company's IT can be streamlined. This way, companies could carefully experiment before adopting them wholesale. Many employees embrace this 'hyper agility' to try a new product and service without understanding how just one vulnerability could impact a company's digital trajectory and adoption.

Don't go rogue--if you do, you're part of the problem.

There's light at the end of the adoption tunnel

Digital adoption sure has its challenges. But rather than getting caught up in these potential barriers, enterprises must focus on overcoming them to reap the positives that digital adoption brings. They have to be driven by strategy and be focused on building streamlined infrastructures to support their endeavors. Combined with a well-trained and motivated workforce, these actions greatly increase their chances of successfully leveraging these new technologies to their advantage.