Q&A: Looking into why many digital transformation projects fail Special

Posted Feb 16, 2020 by Tim Sandle
Enterprises are faced with the weight of transforming their businesses to deliver productivity needs while ensuring access to their applications and information are protected and compliant. Pulse Secure's Alex Thurber offers some best practice advice.
Digital Journal
Pulse Secure has recently appointed Alex Thurber to the executive team as Chief Revenue Officer. Thurber explains to Digital Journal what makes for an effective digital transformation strategy and how to avoid falling into the common traps that lead to project failure.
Digital Journal: How important is digital transformation for businesses?
Alex Thurber: Digital transformation is key to almost every business. Whether it is as simple as managing modern PCI-compliant credit card terminals or a complete reconfiguration of a factory floor to support computer-based manufacturing; it’s hard to imagine a company that isn’t faced with some level of digital transformation.
DJ: Is digital transformation only about technology?
Thurber: This is a common misconception. Policies and procedures are as important to digital transformation as the actual physical changes to hardware. As an example, if you implement a modern digital monitoring system for a series of valves on a pipeline you have to then figure out the procedures to deal with any information provided by the monitoring system. If an alarm goes off, who does what? The nuclear melt-down at Chernobyl is a perfect example. The monitoring system was there, but at first no-one believed the alarms, then there wasn’t enough time left to actually respond properly and a cascading series of failures led to the overall disaster.
DJ: Why do many digital transformation projects fail?
Thurber: Its hard to have a single answer to this question, but two ongoing themes are a failure to understand all of the different impacts of the project; and then a failure to fully build out the changes needed for people and policies. Finally, training is often left to the end and it gets short shrift which can lead to a project either failing completely or at least not providing the desired efficiencies.
DJ: How important is it to ‘know the customer’?
Thurber: Its critical to understand the end result of any digital transformation project and that is almost always providing a better/faster/cheaper service or product to the customer. If you don’t understand the customer’s needs or wants, then by definition your solution will not meet the mark. I’ve seen so many projects fail because they develop a fabulous piece of technology for which there is no demand.
DJ: What are the compliance risks that companies face?
Thurber: They can be myriad, and there are more laws and regulations being implemented every day. Whether its PCI data security standards for credit cards or the new EU GDPR regulations or the California data privacy laws, its incumbent on companies to understand what applies to their business or solution and ensure that they keep on top of them.
DJ: What services does Pulse Secure offer?
Thurber: By providing solutions to ensure “Secure Access”, Pulse Secure ensures that companies can focus on their core projects without worrying about electronic intrusions. Modern business is conducted everywhere in the world and with an ever increasing number and type of devices. As such, modern security systems must take this into account and apply “Zero Trust” access policies – insist that each user and each device validate their appropriate request for each piece of information. Pulse provides and enforces this type of secure access providing company’s IT departments with confidence.