How to overcome common digital myths

Think of digital technologies as powerful tools that deserve prominent placement

Most executives understand that digital technologies permeate nearly every function of business.

And yet many fall prey to these two harmful myths. Here is some advice on overcoming them.

1 You will die without a digital strategy. Scary stories, such as how Amazon devoured Sears, often accompany this myth. Think instead of digital technologies as powerful tools that deserve prominent placement in the toolbox. But they shouldn't replace all other tools – or the skilled strategists who know how to use them.

The key to success is always an effective business strategy bolstered by clever applications of empowering tools.


2 We must all become digital experts. Executives who believe that all employees should be self-sufficient in digital technologies often set up their own shadow information technology organisations, introducing complexity to the digital architecture.

Then they’re surprised when they encounter issues of integration, security, customer privacy and regulatory compliance.

People and organisational units should learn to recognise opportunities for digital technologies, know how to engage experts and get comfortable using digital tools.

3 A better approach: Build your digital strategy on a foundation of continuous innovations – the key to this approach is an "agile" team. Agile is a system of innovation popular in software development.

A company creates a small group of people dedicated to a project. The team is self-managing and cross-functional; the members have all the skills for the job.

They break the project into small modules and attack the highest-priority items in time-limited bursts. When a module is complete, the team tests the results. Members track the group’s accomplishments and setbacks and are held accountable for results.

Research shows that agile works better than traditional methods of project management: it's quicker and less prone to failure. It also produces better business results. – Copyright Harvard Business Review 2016