Why Digital Transformation Fails

I got a nudge that my good friend Jim Marous had just published a new report, sponsored by Qorus and Infosys Finacle. 💯 Jim Marous states that: “innovation is important in banking because it drives growth, allows organisations to stay competitive, and helps solve complex problems in an ever-changing world.”

Jim surveyed a range of bankers and found that only 11% believe that Digital Transformation is meeting expectations, whilst 47% are not meeting expectations or are lost. Banks have a long way to go. This is, imho, due to too many banks delegating transformation rather than leading it in a co-ordinated fashion from the executive team, and inclusive of all in the organisation.

In fact, I’ve seen many other stats, like a trillion dollars a year wasted in digital transformation projects. So, is it worth it? Of course it is. So, why is it so hard? Because most C-suite people have no idea how to do it. This is the reason why we saw those Kodak, Nokia and Blockbuster moments. It is a failure of leadership, not a failure of project.

I always come back to basics. What’s the problem? We need to be digital. What’s the solution? Let’s get a project underway. How? We will appoint a Chief Digital Officer who we can hire from a firm like Spotify or Meta and give them $500 million to make this happen.


There are some aspects here that are right, but the key is that you cannot delegate the future of the bank. You cannot delegate transformation. You cannot make transformation a project. You cannot hire someone and tell them it’s their job to do it. You cannot just give someone a few dollars and tell them to change the company.

The core here is that transformation means you have to change the company. You cannot delegate this. You cannot change the company unless the whole company is involved.

That means you start with the leadership team coming up with a plan about what to do and how to do it. You then share that plan with the whole company and ask them what they think. This is a key: what does the company think? What can YOU contribute? We want YOUR views. We want YOU to be involved.

Too often, CEO’s delegate digital transformation to projects, fail to communicate what is going on, fail to engage directly themselves, fail to ensure all of the executive team are on board. That’s why most digital transformation projects fail. It’s nothing to do with budgets or ambitions. It’s to do with commitment and leadership.

You can download the report here and preview it below:

Finacle-Innovation-in-Retail-Banking-2023-Report.pdf from Chris Skinner

p.s. the nudge was from another friend, Richard Turrin, on LinkedIn, who gives a nice overview of the report's key chapters:

* The Future of Innovation During Times of Economic Uncertainty

Innovation has become a critical component of business growth in the banking industry. Beyond creating the ‘next big thing,’ innovation includes the creation of value through new or existing products, services and processes. It also must incrementally improve customer and employee experiences, back-office efficiency and revenue opportunities.

* Innovation in Digital Engagement

Data, analytics, and new technologies are transforming the art and science of personalized customer experiences, enabling the creation of advanced forms of engagement beyond transactions. Innovation around customer engagement is holistic, predictive, precise, and clearly tied to business outcomes beyond sales.

* Digital Transformation Trends

Digital banking transformation requires banks and credit unions to rethink previous ideas about being flexible and being able to pivot quickly.

* Role of Modern Technologies

The existing business model for most retail banks is negatively impacting both profitability and valuations. To become future-ready, banks and credit unions must rethink their distribution strategy, reinvent their business model and double down on ways to achieve operational efficiencies.

* The Importance of Speed and Scale

Organizations that embrace change, leverage new technologies, support an innovation culture, and move forward quickly with a challenger mindset will be better prepared for ongoing disruption that will increasingly become the norm in banking.


* With 47% of respondents still failing at digital transformation, banks have a long way to go.
* Innovation is more important than ever in the kill-or-be-killed world of digital banking.
* We are witnessing the segregation of the digital haves and have-nots.
* Innovation and disruption are the new normal!

Related: Can We Live Without Money?