Here’s a fun word fact for you: the word “cliché” was a French onomatopoeia. It represented the sound of a printing plate, which prints the same exact copy over and over and over again.

Digital transformation is a great example of this.

It has been used so much in this century that it has passed from buzzword to cliché. This is not to say that digital transformation projects are no longer important, it’s just that the word no longer has the same meaning it once had when it was first coined in 2012.

For starters, every organization is different and thus will experience different states of transformation when it comes to becoming a digital enterprise. And there are still real projects that must be taken on for organizations to maintain their competitive edge. Roadblocks are bound to happen along the way.

In this blog series, we’re going to be talking about a few major obstacles that every organization faces on the path to becoming a digital enterprise, and how to overcome them – regardless of whether they’ve just gotten started, or are in a mixed environment of analog and digital processes.

Hierarchies may be killing your digital transformation projects’ momentum

The hierarchical command structure for organizations remains the most prevalent form of setting up an organization.

This style of management structure is one most of us are familiar with: information flows up and down a clear chain of command from the C-Suite down to their direct reports and so on until you reach the frontline workers and back up along those same lines.

The benefits of this are multifold: an obvious career path for employees, clear lines of communication and decision making, and the ability to specialize.

This way of operating worked in 1776 as Adam Smith laid out his vision of capitalism. It worked through the industrial revolution. It even worked all the way through the 20th century through the dot-com boom.

Today, this sort of hierarchy can be a major hindrance to digital transformation projects.

As business writer Brandon Gailes observes: “When there is a hierarchical organizational structure in place, teams tend to stay within their defined structures. Collaboration within a team still happens. Collaborating outside of a team silo can be difficult to accomplish.”

With organizations and employees stretching across the globe, projects involving complex business processes cannot succeed without bridging the gap between departments and lines of communication.

As organizations grow larger and larger, dealing with more complicated systems and problems than ever before, the risk of siloed decision-making can result in the duplication of work, lost opportunity to apply lessons from past failures and successes, and much slower innovation overall.

How a Center of Excellence can reduce siloed decision-making

While the situation may seem dire if you have a hierarchy, rest assured there is a solution. Focusing on building cross-departmental, cross-organizational collaboration can help reduce the risks that decisions are made in a vacuum by various groups.

One of the ways organizations are dealing with this is by establishing Centers of Excellence (CoE) for various disciplines. These groups, according to Gartner, focus on “concentrating existing expertise and resources in a discipline or capability to attain and sustain world-class performance and value.”

Lengthy, multifaceted projects like digital transformation require bringing together people from across disciplines, departments, and at various points in the chain of command. By their very nature, establishing a CoE means bringing together the people and information into one place so that it doesn’t just exist in the mind of any one person or team.

Aspects of an effective Center of Excellence

If you’re thinking of establishing a CoE, it should have the following criteria:

  • Hold Authority: The CoE should be given leeway to accomplish its goals. It should not be held back by a bureaucratic review process and should be able to make decisions on its own.
  • Remain Service-Focused: While their focus might be on completing digital transformation projects, they shouldn’t lose focus of the enablement and training aspects for the rest of the organization.
  • Display Expertise: The entire group should be made up of people who are going to be the drivers of any digital transformation project and should represent the entire organization.
  • Be Cost-Agnostic: Your Center of Excellence should not be a cost center within your organization but it should have the budget to accomplish its goals.


With the right approach, your digital transformation CoE can help you tackle just about any project within your specific timeframe and budget. If you’re looking to understand where your digital transformation efforts are today compared to goal and how you can continue to move them forward, check out our digital eBook, the Integrated Information Management Roadmap.

Check Out the Integrated Information Management Roadmap Now!