A lot of assumptions are made based on a title, and “Digital Transformation” is a prime example.  There is an immediate overemphasis on technology and platforms just based on the use of the word Digital.  A lot of organizations focus their digital transformation endeavors on buying new platforms.  These platforms are made available to their customers, or their workforce and they claim success.   

There is no question that Technology and Platforms play a major role in digital transformation, however, see them as enablers of the transformation and not the objective.  The objectives are to improve customer experience and deliver outcomes. Platforms are just one of the vectors of change towards achieving these objectives.  The American Council for Technology – Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) recently published a report, Digital Transformation: Best Practices and Lessons Learned which has a great characterization of Digital Transformation, “At its core, digital transformation refers to organizational change that is triggered and shaped by the widespread diffusion of digital technologies¹.” To help our customers, ManTech's Digital Transformation Division has established a framework for digital transformation which focuses on five critical vectors of change:  People, Processes, Policy, Partners, and Platforms.   

Platforms People Partners


Everything starts with people.  We see lots of Digital Transformation endeavors where people are an afterthought.  A great example is when a new tool is delivered to the workforce.  Everyone is given an account and we pat each other on the back and say “go forth and do good things.” 

In practice, making a tool available to the workforce does not make us practitioners in effectively using it.  70% of digital transformations fail, most often due to resistance from the workforce². 

As individuals, we may be tech savvy enough to self-learn and become effective users of the tool, but this is a short-sighted and unsustainable approach to transformation.  We lack empathy for people in this regard. To achieve our objective of improving customer experience, we need to understand the customer.  In our example, the customer is our workforce and they are not defined by just the tech-savvy teammates who can achieve practitioner expertise independently.  The people in the workforce have many personas with varying levels of expertise, backgrounds, etc.  This is why disciplines like Design Thinking and Human Centered Design are so critical to digital transformations.  Understand people first and foremost if you are to improve their experience. 


Be ready for a transformation if you expect to be successful in one.  This means be ready to change things that may have historically been “just the way we do things around here.”  A prime example of this reluctance to change is with processes and procedures.  An objective outcome of a transformation may be automation, but what if you are just automating your old way of doing business?  Evaluate business processes as part of your digital transformation if you are to truly exploit the opportunity to improve customer experience. 

Do not automate existing processes without taking a step back and determining whether that process is really the best approach. Focus on automating away redundancies and simplifying the customer experience.

ACT IAC’s Digital Transformation: Best Practices and Lessons Learned


Policies can be very valuable components of digital transformation provided they focus on driving towards objective outcomes.  Many times, policies become very prescriptive in nature and prevent the opportunity to innovate as part of a transformation.  This prescriptiveness, while good intentioned, can actually lead to anti-patterns such as focusing on outputs instead of outcomes. Focus policies on strategic intent and the problems to be addressed with objective outcomes sought. Businesses move twice as fast on their digital transformation journey once staff and management collectively understand the importance of their digital path ahead³. Policies also tend to be static in nature which prevents adapting to changes driven by technological advancement.  How can we implement dynamic policies to keep pace with technological change? 


Organizations often tackle their transformations alone.  There is great opportunity to leverage the hard work and lessons learned from partner transformation endeavors. Shared service implementation models are available in the Federal Government and DoD for us to consume.  Avoiding a “not invented here” mentality will open your solution space. While these shared service implementations might not immediately satisfy all of your requirements, you can leverage the economies of scale for shared resources and likely have faster time to value for your investment. Partnerships with technology providers are a key to successful digital transformations. Less than 30% of organizations are actively partnering with technology vendors in their digital transformation initiatives even though partnering with vendors is one of the best practices to avoid failure4


We intentionally list platforms last here because they already get all the attention and hype.  While important to transformation, Digital platforms not the most important because they aren’t the most difficult vector.  We talk about them all the time because they are the easiest part of transformation to understand.  Technology has come a long way in the last twenty years and has become an enabler for transformation.  The key word here is “enabler.”  Modernizing platforms without accounting for the other vectors of change is a recipe for failure. A telling data point for this is 45% of executives don’t think their company has the right technology to implement a digital transformation5.  Here at ManTech's Digital Transformation Division, we understand the importance of having a comprehensive Digital Transformation approach across the vectors of change. 

Let us help you achieve your transformation objectives.

Learn More: https://www.mantech.com/digital-transformation-consulting 



 ¹ ACT-IAC Digital Transformation: Best Practices and Lessons Learned

 ² The ‘how’ of transformation | McKinsey

 ³ Business Model Transformation | Gartner 

4 AI Multiple 

5 AI Multiple