[Joint Blog] Where digital transformation goes wrong?

Written by:  


Digital transformation has been high on the agenda for most companies over the past few years – but there’s often too much inaction. This is preparing for failure, and that will come sooner than many might think. Furthermore, getting started on the journey is one thing, but implementing it in the right way, for success, takes time, people, leadership, management, and focus.

This is now a need to do, not a nice to do. Are you ready to commit to the journey? Do you need to fast-track the road that you’re already on? Let’s explore some of the common pitfalls that companies fall for, and what success looks like.



The need for change

There’s no such thing as being too big to fail anymore.

Technology continues to evolve at pace, and that opens up new ways for companies to be able to deliver products and services to their customers. We’re now seeing every industry start to have an influx of new “challenger” companies, which are created as technology-first. There’s no such thing as being too big to fail anymore. Competitive advantage is speed and rapid performance. Are you as a leader in your organisation ready for the steep learning and action curve?

The ways that companies are delivering value to their customers is also changing, as they create more interactive and self-serve experiences. Customers are now starting to demand more of this in every aspect of their life, and are now often reaching for convenience and functionality over brand loyalty. The movement is from customer experience, to longer-term, in-depth customer journeys.

learning how to lead and manage remotely has been one of the biggest hits and misses for successful and failing leaders our there

The pandemic has also introduced a lot of new problems for companies to deal with that are likely to be around for the foreseeable. This includes a more distributed workforce, a change in customer behaviours, and disruption to traditional supply-chains. Technology and change opens the door to solutions that can help a company to not only overcome these issues, but also find new audiences and efficiencies.

Today, putting leaders and managers on a level footing with other employees is also important. As the landscape continues to change, it’s key that everyone learns together -and learning how to lead and manage remotely has been one of the biggest hits and misses for successful and failing leaders our there.



Technology departments remain a key component

It’s key to remember that it’s a collaborative process

Once the need for change has been identified, the next step is often that a company will lean on the technology department to lead the programme. This usually starts with a transformation specialist (such as a Chief Technology Officer) who can start to build a roadmap.

Some companies choose to first look at new ways of reaching their customers. This could be through using social media, and more digital-first ways of marketing, or by introducing things such as interactive web experiences, or mobile apps. Others start with their internal systems and processes, looking to find ways to achieve things faster, cheaper, and with fewer faults.

many organisations are set up in a way that’s too rigid

While technology leaders and the teams that support them are excellent generators of practical ideas and strategies in this area, it only goes so far without proper support from the rest of the organisation. It’s key to remember that it’s a collaborative process, and as much as digital strategy, it’s also a human one. CTOs need the whole business lens, not just the technical one. Technical systems must be matched with getting people “on board” with them. Developing binding ecosystems is required to ensure that technology truly becomes embedded in the long run.

We have seen successful organisations start by introducing somewhat standalone “innovation centres”. These act almost like a startup, with more autonomy to bring about change. But, in order for this to actually impact the core business in the long term, it requires a transition through to “business as usual” for everyone else.

To actually put in place even the most well thought out transformation plans, they need the key things that every other project does – budget, resources, and time. These are often the things that introduce hurdles to overcome, as many organisations are set up in a way that’s too rigid for some of the unknown exploration required for change to be brought about.



It begins with leadership

Leadership is where digital talk and workforce transformation fails first. Budgets and resources can often be locked behind paperwork and lengthy sign-off processes. These are often designed to mitigate risk, and ensure that spending happens in the most efficient way – but they can be the main reason that projects never get off the ground.

more often than not, you need to test and explore the possible by running a series of experiments

Change in any organisation is almost always a calculated risk, with a dose of educated guesses thrown in. In this case, mitigating those risks can be a sensible thing to do, but more often than not, you need to test and explore the possible by running a series of experiments. This naturally requires a budget and approach to be more flexible than the company may be used to.

Let’s imagine that an energy company is thinking about making their core services available via an app to their users, to make it more “self-serve”. There’s bound to be a good business case for this, including cost savings to contact-centre staff. But as with any technology project, there’s a question of what users actually want. There may be no point developing the app if 95% of users still end up choosing to call up to give their meter reading.

The agile methodology has been the standard in technology for many years now. It’s designed to break down projects into smaller chunks and “test the water” by getting feedback at each stage. This naturally requires a different approach when it comes to budgeting and roadmaps.



Whole-organisation transformation

As we’ve explored, the issue often stems from not bringing the whole organisation along for the ride, and instead, trying to implement transformation as a “side project”.

Working in agile ways shouldn’t just be reserved for the technical teams.

Working in agile ways shouldn’t just be reserved for the technical teams. Being strategically reactive and data-driven, by using tools such as analytics, data visualisation, and feedback will bring a shift in the company, when it’s implemented across the organisation. Leaders must walk the walk across departments – and also ensure that the the entire organisation follows the example.

Plans are less “set in stone”, and often need teams to have freedom to “fail” and learn by testing. To succeed with transformation, boards must become more open to a game-plan, rather than a strict step-by-step proposal. Those who lead the company must also adapt their ways. Teams must be given relative freedom and autonomy to find the best way to achieve the business goals.

Perhaps most importantly, to get results from digital transformation, companies must be willing to truly transform with it. Leaders must nurture a more collaborative, and data-driven environment – and be willing to take calculated risks towards a new future for the organisation.


Written by

Scott Gulliver

Scott Gulliver is the Director of Fluff Software, a software development company based in the South West of England. Scott has been helping large companies to implement software and technology, with a particular focus on digital transformation over the past decade.

Website | LinkedIn  | Twitter


Jeremy Blain

Jeremy Blain is the Chief Executive of Performance Works International (PWI), a modern business transformation consultancy and training company that helps executive boards, leaders and teams succeed in the digital climate amidst disruption, opportunity, and uncertainty. Jeremy is a global authority on empowered working and backed this up with his 2021 award-winning, International #1 best-selling book: ‘The Inner CEO – Unleashing leaders at all levels

Website | LinkedIn

Press Release: Jeremy Blain and Robin Speculand launch The Ticking Clock Guys© Partnership to support businesses becoming more digitally driven

CEO of Bridges, Robin Speculand, and CEO of Performance Works, Jeremy Blain, are collaborating to create the Ticking Clock Guys© Partnership for making digitalization happen.

Organizations are failing at digital execution and failing at an extremely alarming rate. To succeed, leaders today need a different mindset and approach for 2020 than what worked for them yesterday.

These three facts should be sending alarm bells ringing in board rooms across the globe:

  1. The average success rate for implementing strategies is 67 percent. The success rate for implementing digital strategies is even worse, according to various studies. Forbes magazine and IBM put it as low as 84%.
  2. Nearly 50% of all senior leaders across three continents are not ready for the future. They have no digital vision according to 2019 research by Performance Works International and Bridges Business Consultancy. Furthermore, and more worrisome, the same research concluded that 40% of these same leaders are not even committed to create and implement a digital vision.
  3. One of the top reasons digital execution failure rate is so high is because of senior leaders’ lack of mindset change.

After their successful collaboration researching the state of digital across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, the Ticking Clock Guys Partnership (aka Jeremy and Robin) are collaborating with the specific focus of supporting organizations to adopt digital so they can become future-ready and more competitive.

At the heart of their approach is The Ticking Clock© Model – a 3-stage, 11-step business transformation model for the digital era. Their Model provides a step-by-step execution process to adopt digitalization into a business and execute it well. Supplementing it is the proven Implementation Compass™ from Bridges Business Consultancy. The Compass ensures organizations put in place all the elements required for successful strategy execution. It also assists leaders in identifying their strategic cadence – their speed of execution.


Robin Speculand, CEO of Bridges Business Consultancy, states:

“I am delighted to formalize the partnership with Jeremy. We both recognized similar digitalization challenges for leaders and decided to do something about it. The research we conducted has been covered by publications across the globe, including CEO Today, Duke University and Forbes. The natural next step was to commit to supporting organizations through their transformation with a practical how-to tool and process that really works. Our unique Ticking Clock© Model has led us to become known as The Ticking Clock Guys©, making our partnering inevitable. We are committed to reducing the failure rate of organizational leaders embarking on their digital transformations. We are all about driving successful strategy execution and making organizations future fit.”


Jeremy Blain, CEO of Performance Works International, adds:

“We started doing research together to define what was happening as organizations strive to become successful in the digital era. Early on, we both wanted this effort to be practical and actionable. In parallel, we launched The Ticking Clock© Model. It’s the only tool that breaks down each component part of the implementation journey and helps organizations work through it step by step. The response to this approach from our customers has been phenomenal. Clearly, we’ve identified a gap around strategy execution. Many leaders simply don’t know what they don’t know! Our aim has been to change that.
As a result, we now launching a keynote and workshop to guide leaders and senior management teams through their digital transformation. On the back of this, Robin and I are delighted to strengthen our partnership as we head into the 2020s.”

Learn more about the keynote and one-day workshop from the Ticking Clock Guys© here.



Jeremy Blain is an award-winning business leader, a recognized International GameChanger™ and a human capital expert. He is also CEO of Performance Works International, a professional consultancy that helps traditional organizations transform into dynamic businesses ready for the demands of the future. Over the past 20 years, Jeremy has supported businesses in most major markets in the world. He has helped leaders and teams drive cultural shifts that respond well to the fast-changing digital era. Jeremy lives in the UK.



Robin Speculand is a recognized pioneer and expert in strategy/digital implementation. He is also the founder and CEO of Bridges Business Consultancy Int and creator of the Implementation Hub, the world’s first online portal dedicated to strategy implementation. He is the co-founder of the Strategy Implementation Institute and an  international bestselling author who has sold more than 45,000 books worldwide. Robin is lives in Singapore.


Press/PR contact – info@performanceworks.global

Bridges contact – bridges@bridgesconsultancy.com


Failing fast and failing forward to accelerate success – and other learnings in business


“Failing fast and failing forward to accelerate success – and other learnings in business”
With Jeremy Blain & Stuart


Jeremy Blain joins the show to share his insights into the future of the work. As an industry expert with over 20 years experience working in L&D, he’s the Founder of PerformanceWorks and currently based in Singapore. Having also worked at Procter and Gamble and PepsiCo, he values the importance of failing fast and moving forward, and tools support him along the way.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The gig economy and working remotely
  • The risks of moving too quickly in business
  • Working smarter through digital tools
  • The importance of physical and mental fitness when working for yourself

Links Mentioned:

Books Mentioned:

How organisations need to become more digital-driven for the 2020’s

“How organisations need to become more digital-driven for the 2020’s”
With Jeremy Blain & host Paul Marks


The podcast for inspired executives that want to get results and maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Listen to successful executives, leaders, and experts on high performance and health. We also share tools, strategies, and techniques on how to develop high-performance teams. Join our community of Ultra Executives! Your host Paul Marks is a global leadership facilitator and performance coach! Fully accredited and certified by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) as a PCC Coach, Paul has successfully coached executives and facilitated team development programs for a variety of Fortune 500 companies as well as government and NGO organizations across the globe!

Performance Works International has received the “2019 Award for Excellence in Digital Transformation Consulting” by AI Global

Performance Works International has received the ‘2019 Award for Excellence in Digital Transformation Consulting’ by AI Global recognising the research, efforts and practical solutions in support of organisations everywhere as they become more digital driven businesses.

Helping Professionals to Get Ready for the World of Tomorrow

PerformanceWorks International is focused on developing organisations, leaders and managers to be ready for the future. Recently, the firm found success in AI’s Global Excellence Awards 2019 where they were awarded the 2019 Award for Excellence in Digital Transformation Consulting – UK. On the back of this win, we profile the firm and caught up with Founder and CEO, Jeremy Blain who provided us with a detailed insight into the award-winning company.

Since their inception, PerformanceWorks International has focused on helping organisations transform for the digital era, building new professional and personal skills, delivered through consulting, training and other developmental interventions, growing individuals and positively impact performance.

In this age of disruption and constant change, leaders need to navigate the future to remain competitive. They need to be innovative and reshape their business and organisational culture in an increasingly digitised world. Providing leaders with the right tools and guidance to achieve success within their respected industry, the team at PerformanceWorks International specialises in highlighting and simplifying the task leaders are facing in organisations today, as Jeremy begins to explain.

“Here at PerformanceWorks International, we are building on digital transformation and reinforcing the need for whole business model transformation. By helping leaders and managers to fully understand
each component, operationally, we offer something that has not been done effectively until now. We do this through intensive research, action-oriented tools and consulting, including brand new models
to guide organisations as they steer their businesses through the choppy waters of transformation.

“As a result, our clients value PerformanceWorks for its customer centricity, its strategic knowledge leadership and its operational know how in terms of rapid implementation, execution of initiatives and the deployment of global experts where they are needed the most to drive results.”

Providing the firm with the ability to deliver these award-winning services is the committed, passionate and hard-working team which forms the backbone of PerformanceWorks. When discussing the internal culture, Jeremy is keen to highlight the significant role the team play in the overall success of the firm.
“Our people represent what we do best. By having relevant experts deployed in appropriate ways, this is a big plus for our customers. In fact, the mix of business know-how, learning credibility and consulting expertise, helps us to operationalise our activity more rapidly for our customers, through highly experienced team members – who can talk the language of business, as much as the language of learning and consulting.”

Moving forward, the team at PerformanceWorks International will continue to deliver their exceptional service, which not only ensures that they meet the requirements which have been set by their clients, but also surpasses their expectations and benefits both parties involved. Bringing the interview to a close, Jeremy signs off by revealing the exciting plans which lie in the pipeline for the firm, especially following their recent success in Acquisition Intl.’s Global Excellence Awards 2019 where they were righteously awarded the 2019 Award for Excellence in Digital Transformation Consulting – UK.

“By having relevant experts deployed in appropriate ways, this is a big plus for our customers.”

“Recently, we have just published new research on how organisations are transforming into digital centric businesses. A big part of this is a brand new “how to” model on the back of the research, helping organisations everywhere fast track their own business transformations. The 11-step “Ticking Clock” model mimics the ‘doomsday clock’ by highlighting the need for organisations to rapidly transform, after years of inactivity, or face extinction. Looking ahead, we have speaking engagements and webinars across the world supporting this and 2hr – 2 day leadership team sessions to introduce the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ as a catalyst to fast track the process.”

[Interview] With Jeremy Blain, Digital Transformation Expert On The Next 5 Years For Your Company

April 29, 2019

Jeremy Blain is an award-winning Business Leader, Futurist, New Era Learning Professional, Author & Conference Speaker.

Jeremy is founder and CEO of PerformanceWorks International (PWI). He has created PWI because he knows that his experience, knowledge and passion can help organisations and individuals face into the changing workplace and help them be fit and ready for the future.

We had an opportunity to have a chat with Jeremy to discuss digital transformation and what it holds for the future of companies and their retention of customers and brand loyalty to become a more digitally centered business.

1. How Do Define Successful Digital Transformation?

By not calling it digital transformation but re-orientating that to Whole Business Model Transformation. This is the real need.

Digital transformation seems to have lost its meaning for many companies, who are seeing it as the integration of technology, a system, a structure or similar. Multiply that effect by the potential for different technologies being implemented across different functions, without necessarily talking to each other, and they are compounding the problem. In many companies, a further question is not even considered…how does my digital strategy and transformation align to what my customers need and want? Here lies the problem.

For me true success is looking at the end to end transformation the business needs to include the digital, the people, the customer and partners; all led by a credible leadership and management team. Whole business consideration, not just piecemeal interventions that may not work. It is no coincidence that in research across 2016/17 by IBM and Forbes that 84% of digital strategy fails**. A staggering amount and this is largely due to a misunderstanding of what digital transformation actually is, what it means and how to go about it.

My latest research goes into this in some details and proposes a brand new 11-step model for digital strategy implementation. While doing the research, it was clear very little guidance actually exists – until now. You can see more here.

** source:


2. How Do You See The Effect Of Digital Transformation On The Public Sector?

It depends on the part of world we focus on. For example, Countries like Vietnam, India, China, Singapore, HK and more across Asia have digital at the core of their policies. Be that in the development of Smart Cities like Singapore or building the economy on technology-driven services and business.

In Europe, from my recent survey (white paper above) it is clear that Red Tape and Bureaucracy is getting in the way of adequate planning, budgeting and execution of government level policy and implementation when it comes to digital. For example, very few public sector organisations we surveyed have a digital vision or even a leadership capable of understanding what is needed…compounded by a ‘laisse faire’ attitude. Unless that changes, transformation in the public sector will be slow and only in certain areas; rather than an integrated, policy-driven actionable plan – which is adequately funded.

Interestingly digital is levelling the global competitive playing field and allowing emerging economies across the world, notably in Africa, SE Asia and Latin America to start from the same place as more established economies. The more enlightened governments are centralizing their planning around this to build future-ready economies and attractive investment sites for external developers, investors and businesses.   Whole conferences are being fast-tracked around this area as a platform for global, not just local, participants. Such as Africa Com later this year and many more. This is as important to government as it is to private enterprise of course.

3. How Do You See Digital Transformation Efforts Affecting Customers In The Next 5 Year?

It is not just about our customers, it is more a question of how we do more together with our customers, fuelled by digital and driven by human expertise. For example, as we transform our businesses, how do we ensure that our technologies, data and processes align with those evolving in our customers. To the extent that within the next 5 years our systems should actually ‘talk to’ those of our customers to fast track data sharing, informing more rapid joint decision making and forward strategy planning. This is the gold at the end of the rainbow for suppliers and their customers.

4. Which Are The Emerging Technologies That Will Play A Significant Role In The Digital Transformation Process?

This could be a long list but key tech that can enable successful transformation includes AI (Artificial Intelligence) – around big data analysis, strategic planning and rapid decision making. Bin the excel spreadsheets and be driven by hyper rapid analytics, for real-time action.

5G will be a game-changer in terms of the above and the ability for businesses who are ahead of the curve to secure competitive advantage. This not just about bandwidth, download speeds etc. this could become the life-blood running through the veins of our businesses and how we interact with employees, partners, customers and competitors even. More leaders need to truly understand the power that 5G can provide their businesses. Right now, too many ‘don’t know what they don’t know’

Aligned to this will be technology to allow systems to talk to each other. Prior to a true ‘Internet of Things’ filling the gap, the use of API (Application Programming Interface) should be adopted by more organisations (small, medium and large). API is a way to ensure that there are clearly designed methods and communication lines across  the varying technology components you may use internally – and – over the next few years, to enable better integration with your customer systems and technologies. A key component for competitive advantage.

RPA – robotic process automation. A way to automate your future business processes to ensure the technology, AI, robotics etc all work together and are linked to the human heart of your business. Crucial to some industries over the next 3-6 years and something that many informed corporations are budgeting now for, as they prepare their forward strategies. Others are not doing enough…

In the digital age one could argue that the human touch is as important as it ever was. Leveraging your human capital in the age of whole business model transformation can be the ‘edge’ as far as competitive advantage goes (particularly around the attraction, protection and retention of Talent). This is why many organisations are restructuring their organisation around Human Design Centres. Mobilising your resources according to core personality, preference and capability, not necessarily job role or function. It embraces ‘difference’ and enables your people to perform in ways suited to them. A more fluid way to use Talent and more sophisticated way to mobilise resources be they permanent, contingent workers, in an office or remote. Equally a way to understand how this can work best with the digital thread of the business as much as the human.

5. How Do You See The Integration Of Block-chain Affecting The Businesses?

By 2021 it is predicted that over $6Trillion USD will be lost through cyber crime. As part of any digital strategy, cyber risk, secure systems and end-to-end secure processes, technologies and tools require much work in many organisations. Not just for how they work internally but how they interface externally most importantly. Those organisations with 20th century systems in place now are not fit for purpose in the Industry 4.0 era. But many heads are being buried in the sand. It is perceived as expensive, non-urgent and, again, a fundamental misunderstanding of the ‘cost of doing nothing’ is the biggest risk here.

In 2020s ‘trusting’ a company, system or tool is not good enough. In the era of fake news, sophisticated scams and readily available ‘credible’ technology, you need more. And that is where Blockchain comes in. For me – as a summary – Blockchain is the end to end ‘traceability’ your organisation needs internally and to be seen externally. It is TRUTH over TRUST. And that is the key point and why it is so important.

Thank you to Jeremy for taking the time to speak with us at Upwise.  We have certainly learned a lot and hope this insight has helped our community too.

Agile digital vision of Asia is setting example for European businesses, says PerformanceWorks research

Leaders in Europe need to cut through bureaucracy and apathy or risk losing competitive advantage to more action-oriented international rivals

For any business looking to remain competitive, having a cohesive, well-defined digital vision and the strategy to properly implement it is essential. However, new research by PerformanceWorks and Bridges Business Consultancy, international providers of strategy implementation solutions, training and consulting services for business leaders and managers, has revealed that just 51 per cent of European organisations have a digital vision for the future, compared to 60 per cent in Asia and 65 per cent in North America.

In addition to this, European organisations are playing catch-up when it comes to a general readiness to digitally transform:


When asked to rate how ready they are on a scale of 1 to 10 (with higher numbers representing a higher level of readiness), respondents from Europe averaged a score of 5.1, compared with 5.6 in North America and 6.0 in Asia. Moreover, when asked how much cultural transformation is needed, those in Europe averaged a score of 6.1 (with higher numbers representing a greater need for transformation), while their Asian colleagues scored just 4.4.

For Jeremy Blain, Founder and CEO of PerformanceWorks, these figures illustrate how Asia is succeeding in putting together a digital vision, and combining this with decisive action and the fostering of a digital-first culture. Europe, in contrast, is risking stagnating in its digital development due to excessive bureaucracy and red tape.

Blain said: “The evidence shows how the agility Asia is showing when it comes to digital transformation is paying dividends. Take China’s move to becoming a cashless society as an example – by innovating in this way, the country has levelled the playing field from a technological point of view and enabled itself to compete with more established economies in the western world. North America isn’t too far behind Asia in this respect, but European businesses seem to be hampered by bureaucratic processes which will only lead to them falling further behind unless measures are taken to reform organisational structures, create a renewed sense of urgency to change, and embrace greater agility.”

To support this point further, the research also found that Asia is well ahead of the game when it comes to people being prepared to change the way they think and act.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (with higher numbers representing a greater enthusiasm for change), Asia scored 6.5 on average, compared with 6.2 in North America and just 5.2 in Europe.

Blain added: “These numbers are a stark indicator of the work that needs to be done in Europe (and North America) to nurture a culture that sees a digitally minded future as the norm, rather than something to be regarded with disinterest, immobility or suspicion. Asia has blazed a trail and it’s important for Europe to follow suit as soon as possible. It’s no longer sufficient to assume that having been around for longer automatically puts you in a favourable position: those organisations that prove to be the most adaptable are the ones that will thrive.”

To help narrow this gap, Blain believes that leaders need to conduct detailed evaluations of their organisational culture, with an emphasis on improving the human touch within digital transformation so that all employees feel they are a part of the journey.

He concluded: “Without a willingness from employees to change the way they think and act, any digital vision is likely to fail. Winning hearts and minds in this area is about being able to connect with employees, communicate a vision effectively, and motivate them to embrace it on a long-term basis. This means not just having a digital vision, but having the strategy to execute it and ensure that this evolution in culture filters down throughout the entire organisation. Asia has shown that this can be done; it’s now up to Europe to make up this lost ground.”

The full findings from the research are summarised in the Transforming Your Company into a Digital-Driven Business report, which can be downloaded here.



About Performance Works

Performance Works International is focused on developing leaders and managers to be fit and ready for the future.

Managers need new skills to manage in a changing and often remote workplace. They have to mobilise and motivate people, drive positive change and ensure performance at all levels.

Performance Works understands these challenges and helps organisations map their route of change. Through its consulting services and bespoke courses, Performance Works builds new POWER SKILLS across your business and develops both leaders and managers to ready them for the challenges ahead. For more information, visit: https://www.performanceworks.global/


Press contact:

Sean Hand / Mary Davoudi
T: +44 (0)20 7388 9988
E: performanceworks@spreckley.co.uk