If you have followed my work over the last decade and a half, you may have noticed that I love rock and roll. Classic rock, to be more specific.

Many of my articles and YouTube videos have been named after classic rock songs or quotes. Both Third Stage Consulting and the consulting firm I started before that were named after classic rock albums. The only thing I haven’t done is to write a blog that summarizes the various connections between digital transformation and rock and roll.

Below are some of the songs that provide lessons for digital transformation, or at the very least, they may remind you of songs you have heard and enjoy!

“Welcome to the Jungle” – Guns N Roses

Digital transformations are disruptive to most organizations. Operational changes, reorganizations, and the overall process of internal alignment can make these initiatives feel like a jungle. By investing in business process reengineering, organizational change management, and other critical non-technology activities, you can ensure that your transformation doesn’t bring you to your knees.

“Blowin’ in the Wind” – Bob Dylan

This song about rhetorical questions with answers that are blowing in the wind are a good reminder that there are a lot of questions to answer during digital transformation. Some have obvious answers, while others are more difficult to answer. Either way, it is important to have clear direction and answers in order to be successful.

“We’re Ready” – Boston

In addition to appearing on the album “Third Stage,” this song is a reminder of the need to prepare for your transformation and to get your team ready for the ride. Investing on your team and the people side of your project will serve you well in the short-term and long-term. Transformation momentum is fickle, so it is important to keep it by avoiding some of the common headwinds that digital transformations typically face.

Won’t Get Fooled Again” – The Who

I have certainly made mistakes over the years, but it amazes me how much the ERP, HCM, and CRM software industry tends to perpetuate the same mistakes over time. In the quest to sell more software, vendors and systems integrators tend to underestimate time, cost, and risk while overestimating the benefits of their technology. Others may fall for it, but don’t let yourself get fooled again.

“Hysteria” – Def Leppard

The ERP software industry has a knack for creating urgency to buy their products. In recent years, the industry has created a bit of chaos by sunsetting perfectly fine products and imposing deadlines for their customers to upgrade to newer cloud products. This dynamic creates hysteria and chaos that can be difficult to navigate without a clear transformation strategy that is aligned with your business needs.

“Welcome to the Machine” – Pink Floyd

The ERP software industry is a machine. The entire ecosystem of players is wired to sell more software and create self-fulfilling credibility. For example, industry analysts, systems integrators, individual consultants, and other players in the industry are all cogs in a machine designed to sell more software and technology services. This video explains this dynamic in more detail:

“Money Talks” – AC/DC

When working with most vendors, systems integrators, consultants, and industry analysts, it is important to remember that money is a big driver of their advice and recommendations. Since most are compensated by vendors for referring customers or selling software, most vendors you interface with are hard-wired with bias. Be sure to recognize this dynamic and plan accordingly.

“Roll with the Changes” – REO Speedwagon

Digital transformations entail a huge amount of change. Most organizations underestimate the magnitude of changes, which makes them less likely to focus on effective organizational change management strategies. It is important that you condition your team and overall organization to roll with the changes during your digital transformation.

“Canary in a Coal Mine” – The Police

Digital transformation failures don’t happen overnight. Instead, they happen slowly over time through a series of bad decisions and ineffective tactics. The problem is that most don’t recognize those undermining factors until the project is already a disaster. Much like how coal miners used to use canaries as a warning for deadly gas leaks (a canary that stops singing in a coal mine is probably dead from a gas leak), it is important to proactively identify and mitigate risks throughout your entire transformation.

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” – Rolling Stones

Digital transformations too often fail to deliver business benefits and ROI to these investments. Organizations often overestimate the potential benefits and underestimate the time, cost, and resources required to deliver. In addition, transformation project team members and employees often don’t get what they want in new process changes. The key is to make sure they get what they need.

“Against the Wind” – Bob Seger

Digital transformations can certainly feel like running against the wind. Failure rates, internal politics, resource constraints, and vendor biases are just a few common challenges. It is a lot easier to overcome these challenges with the right expertise and technology-agnostic guidance. This is where independent ERP consultants such as our team at Third Stage can help.

“Don’t Stop Believin’” – Journey

Digital transformation and enterprise software projects can be difficult. With so many risks and obstacles along the way, it is easy to lose sight of the end goal. The key is to stay positive and recognize that you can make your transformation successful – provided you don’t fall into the same pitfalls that ERP and other software vendors typically lead their customers into.

Bonus track

These easy to remember choruses and guitar riffs can be a great way to internalize some of the technology-agnostic best practices required for digital transformation success. They are just a few of the things to keep in mind as you continue your journey.

Please feel free to contact me to brainstorm ideas related to your digital transformation (or to discuss classic rock trivia). I am happy to be a sounding board as you continue your transformation journey!

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