Misinformation in the Enterprise Technology and Consulting Space

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: August 4, 2023

Disinformation and fake news have permeated throughout society in various ways, and the same can be said for the digital transformation and technology space.

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Today, I want to address the significant issue of disinformation and fake news in society. This problem is prevalent, whether it's related to politics, current events, or any other subject. The repetition of information can create a perception of truth, leading us to believe things that are not accurate. This phenomenon is also true in the digital transformation space.

My goal today is to discuss some of the aspects of fake news, myths, and misconceptions within the technology and digital transformation sphere. Being aware of these issues will enable you to make better decisions that support and benefit your organization during your digital transformation journey. We do not have a silver bullet solution for you, but understanding these challenges will help you navigate the process more effectively.

The Silver Bullet

The first aspect of fake news to be aware of in the digital transformation space is the concept of a "silver bullet." Often, software vendors and technical implementers may sell you on the idea that certain approaches, such as best practices and other aspects of digital transformations, are like a silver bullet that can solve all your problems. It's important to recognize that no matter what decisions you make or what technology you buy, there will always be strengths and weaknesses, and there are trade-offs involved. Making different decisions may involve trading one risk for another.

Therefore, if you come across an answer that appears to be a silver bullet promising to minimize all or most of your risks, be cautious and aware that it's probably not entirely true. There might be a blind spot that requires further investigation. Some examples of supposed silver bullets in the digital transformation space include agile implementations, certain implementation methodologies and accelerators, as well as industry best practices. Additionally, the sale of technology solutions itself can be portrayed as a silver bullet for solving all your business problems. However, as evident in these examples and others, this is simply not the case.

One Size Fits All

Software vendors and technical implementers have gained a reputation for selling one-size-fits-all or generic solutions to organizations. They offer technology and implementation strategies that may not be the right fit for a particular organization's needs. They often try to sell their standard commercial off-the-shelf software into any situation, without considering whether it aligns with the unique nuances and realities of the organization.

It is essential to recognize that each organization is different and unique. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that will perfectly align with all their needs. Instead, the key is to find solutions that best fit the organization's requirements and then identify and mitigate any associated risks.

Regardless of the chosen solution, it is crucial to acknowledge that one size does not fit all. The chances are high, if not 100%, that some level of tailoring will be necessary to address specific needs and priorities of the organization.

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We Can Do It All

One of the biggest misconceptions spread by technology implementation consultants is that they can handle everything - serving as a one-stop shop for all aspects of your digital transformation, software implementation, or any project requirements. However, this claim is simply not true. While software implementation consultants are skilled at deploying technology, that alone does not encompass an entire digital transformation or ERP implementation.

A comprehensive digital transformation project needs to address more than just technology. It should focus on critical areas such as business process re-engineering and improvement, organizational change management, overall solution architecture, integration, data migration, and program management. These are essential work streams and competencies that should be part of a digital transformation project team. No single software vendor can provide expertise in all these areas.

Though some vendors may claim to have capabilities in various domains, their understanding is often limited and primarily focused on the technology itself. It's vital to recognize that no single party can handle every aspect of a complex digital transformation project. These misconceptions persist because such claims benefit the third-party vendors who want organizations to rely solely on them for all their needs, consolidating all revenue generation into one basket.

To ensure project success, it is crucial to diversify and hedge by assembling a project team with the right skill sets and competencies that cover all aspects of your digital transformation requirements. Relying on a mix of specialized experts will contribute to a more successful and well-rounded project outcome.

Don't Worry About The Current State

Another piece of misinformation that circulates in the technology industry is the notion that you need not concern yourself with the current state; all you should focus on is the future state, achieved by deploying their technology - as some third-party vendors may tell you during their sales pitch. However, it is absolutely critical to emphasize the importance of understanding the current state. It's not about dwelling on it or over-analyzing it, but rather comprehending where you currently stand and where you aim to be.

This understanding is vital for two significant reasons. Firstly, you do not want to discard the core strengths and competencies your organization has developed over the years when adopting new technologies. Recognizing these competencies will help ensure that your future state can build upon them. Secondly, understanding the current state allows you to gauge the magnitude of the changes your organization is going through. Is it an incremental change, a quantum leap, or something in between? This awareness is crucial to align your transformation efforts effectively.

Despite any misinformation suggesting that you can disregard the current state and solely focus on the future state, it is essential to avoid that pitfall. Falling into this trap can lead to chaos and a lack of direction for organizations.

In conclusion, a thorough understanding of both the current state and the future state is essential for successful digital transformation. By leveraging existing competencies and comprehending the extent of change required, organizations can embark on a more informed and strategic transformation journey.

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The Technology Matters Most

Most industry pundits, consultants, and software vendors will emphasize that technology matters more than anything else in a digital transformation. They claim their technology can solve problems, provide new capabilities, and surpass past versions in terms of being easier, better, faster, and cheaper. These messages create the perception that technology should be the central focus of a digital transformation. However, based on experience and observations with our clients, I would argue that technology matters the least in a digital transformation.

Despite the name "digital transformation," it is the people, processes, and strategy that will ultimately determine the success of your project. Rarely does the technology itself determine whether your transformation is successful or not. Deploying the wrong technology that is not a good fit for your organization or improperly customizing or configuring it can lead to breakdowns from a technology perspective. However, even if technology brings new competencies and streamlines processes in your organization, that is only the beginning. The real transformation happens when you address the more critical aspects of change: the people, process, and strategy components.

So, when someone suggests that technology matters most, it's essential to recognize that this is not true. This is disinformation, and the non-technical components of transformation are the most important factors that lead to success or failure.

Agile and Implementation Methodologies will Make This Transformation Easy

The final piece of misinformation to be aware of is the belief that Agile or other implementation methodologies alone can guarantee project success. The industry is currently going through a phase where it's trying to learn from past mistakes and failures in digital transformations. As a result, there's a push to find ways to show improvement, and one way to do this is by claiming that deploying technology differently will lead to success. While it's true that adjustments in technology deployment may contribute to success, relying solely on Agile or other implementation methodologies will not ensure project success.

The exception to this is if an implementation methodology heavily emphasizes change management or process improvement. In such cases, the methodology could indeed lead to a more successful project. However, if the focus is primarily on deploying technology faster, without sufficient attention to process and people improvements, the methodology is likely to fail, just as past methodologies have.

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Similar to what was discussed earlier about silver bullets, it's essential not to fall into the trap of believing that Agile implementation or the use of some implementation accelerator will automatically guarantee success. Faster is not always better; sometimes, taking the time to focus on process improvement and organizational changes is necessary to ensure project success. It's crucial to strike the right balance between technology deployment and the necessary process and people improvements to achieve a successful digital transformation.

I would enjoy brainstorming ideas with you if you are looking to strategize an upcoming transformation or are looking at selecting an ERP system, so please feel free to contact me at eric.kimberling@thirdstage-consulting.com. I am happy to be a sounding board as you continue your digital transformation journey.

Be sure to download the newly released 2023 Digital Transformation Report to garner additional industry insight and project best practices.

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Eric Kimberling

Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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