In today’s constantly changing landscape, businesses must stay ahead of the curve to remain competitive. Digital transformation has become a buzzword in recent years, with companies scrambling to adopt new technologies and processes to keep up with the times. 

However, according to McKinsey, 70% of these initiatives fail to deliver the expected results, leaving organisations wondering why. The answer lies in understanding the real needs of stakeholders with a human-centred approach.

Let’s not forget that a stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in the outcome of a project or initiative. This can include employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, regulators, and even the community at large. Each stakeholder group has different needs and expectations that must be taken into account when implementing a digital change programme.

Why is it important to understand stakeholder needs? 

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make when undergoing any change project — or even attempting to remain relevant — is assuming that they know what their stakeholders want. This can lead to a one-size-fits-all approach that does not meet the specific needs of individual groups and can alienate people who may have additional — not to mention evolving — requirements. 

Instead, businesses must recognise, for example, that individuals have diverse backgrounds, needs, and levels of digital literacy, so striving to ensure inclusivity and accessibility in digital solutions is key. It may be presumed that the introduction of a new digital platform will make it easier for customers to access a company’s services, for instance, but the platform must also be user-friendly and offer the features that customers or other stakeholders truly need, for it to be successful.

To maximise the likelihood of successful adoption, it is important to engage with stakeholders early in the process by conducting thorough user research. This involves listening to their concerns, understanding their pain points, and gathering feedback on what they would like to see in any new digital solution or change project. This information can then be used to inform the design and development of any new programme of work, ensuring that it meets stakeholders’ needs, as anticipated — minimising the risks typically associated with change, in the process.

Companies should start by asking key questions to find out the current state of the service, what stakeholders think, what they need in the future, and how the effectiveness of change will be measured. 

In addition to gathering feedback, it is also important to provide strong and open leadership to communicate with stakeholders about the ‘why’ of the change and the expected outcomes. Too often, change is ‘dictated’ from above with little explanation. This not only alienates employees who are directly involved or impacted by the change, but a lack of engagement can also cause resistance across the organisation.

Want to build an effective sales team? Invest in training

Conflicting priorities

Different groups may have conflicting priorities of course. For example, employees may seek a new digital solution that makes their jobs easier, while shareholders may be more interested in increasing profits. Balancing these competing priorities requires careful consideration and — in some instances — a willingness to compromise. But if objectives are clearly communicated — and everything reverts back to the ‘why — this should be better understood by all involved. 

Having acknowledged that open communication is key to understanding the needs of everyone involved, businesses should take care to liaise with stakeholders throughout the ongoing implementation process too. This includes providing regular updates on progress, addressing any concerns that arise in real-time, and inviting further feedback as needed. By keeping stakeholders informed and involved, companies can build trust, drive early engagement, and ensure that the programme stays on track.

Finally, understanding stakeholder needs requires a long-term, iterative perspective. Digital change programmes are not one-time events but ongoing processes that require continuous improvement and adaptation. This means that companies must remain committed to gathering feedback, communicating with stakeholders, and evolving the programme over time.

Future of human-centric digital transformation 

Stakeholder insight is key to a successful digital change programme. By engaging with stakeholders early, gathering feedback, communicating throughout the implementation process, balancing competing priorities, and taking a long-term perspective, companies are better placed to manage —and meet, if not exceed — expectations. 

As digital transformation continues to shape the business landscape, organisations that prioritise stakeholder needs in this way will be the ones that thrive in the years to come. They should be equipped to successfully navigate the digital transformation process for the benefit of improved customer experience, increased efficiency, and new growth opportunities.

How businesses can design better customer journeys