What makes digital technologies so different and disruptive is their potential to enable very substantial business benefits. \u201cEnable\u201d is the key word. Too often, executives see the power of a technology and reason to themselves, \u201cThis technology will create significant benefits, so we need to implement it and learn how to use it to our advantage.\u201d The problem is this is a fundamental flaw in approach that almost always ends up in a digital transformation failure.\nTechnology does not drive change; creating substantial business value requires changing the business model. And a business model change requires many changes in operations, not just new technology. Yes, those changes are cross-functional, usually end to end, and always disruptive. But without changing other operational aspects than technology, the transformation initiative will fail to deliver the anticipated outcome.\nTake the case of robotic process automation (RPA), for instance. It\u2019s the simplest of digital disruptions. The technology is 30 years old, and often it\u2019s no more complicated than screen scraping or algorithms. It\u2019s a very simple concept, and it looks so easy. Yet there are very few cases of companies with more than 100 bots installed. Why is that? It\u2019s because they took the approach of thinking they would implement the technology, learn how to use it and it would create value. Well, it doesn\u2019t happen like that.\nYes, there are cases where companies implement RPA a few times throughout their organization. But then they run out of steam. That\u2019s because their plans didn\u2019t take into consideration the other changes that need to happen, which are much deeper and much more difficult than the implementation of the technology.\nFor example, the first thing you find out when you implement RPA is your OCR (optical reader) isn\u2019t of sufficient quality to create reliable data. It\u2019s good enough for humans but not good enough for a robot. But there is no budget set aside to replace the OCR technology. And the OCR technology often sits in a different department, which has no interest in changing the technology and has no budget to change it. So, nothing happens. As Peter Drucker advised, \u201cIf you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.\u201d\nBesides the OCR issue, companies encounter security issues when they implement RPA. The security clearance process is designed around people, not software robots. The RPA robot must face the same security clearance that a person does, but most policies and processes are not set up to accommodate that. Therefore, the company must rework its security protocols (again, involving another department with very little interest in doing it). The result: passive-aggressive behaviors that slow down the progress or potentially stop the project from scaling.\nAnother issue arises when applying RPA necessitates rethinking the business process. As you start to automate functions or tasks, the underlying process needs to be restructured. But, again, there is no budget for that or no capacity to drive that change. Without restructuring the process, you can\u2019t drive the automation deeper.\nNon-reliable data due to the legacy OCR, robot security clearance issues, rethinking the underlying business process \u2014 it\u2019s no wonder companies run out of steam and don\u2019t achieve the business benefits they anticipate from applying RPA. And it\u2019s the simplest of digital technologies.\nNeed another example? Consider what happens when moving to the cloud. In theory, moving work into a pay-as-you-go infrastructure world is cheaper than having dedicated servers with low utilization. In reality, moving a few workloads over to the cloud increases your cost because now you have the cloud cost as well as the cost of the existing environment. You have security and resilience questions around how you\u2019ll operate in the cloud. There are management issues too. A lot of rethinking underlying processes.\nThe change required to adopt a digital technology (whether the change is policy and process or other investments) is well beyond the benefit of the initial savings. People throw up their hands, and ambitious agendas get defeated.\nHaving said that, the reality is digital technologies are potentially very powerful in disruption \u2014 creating new value and competitive differentiation. But just buying a digital technology and learning how to use it won\u2019t deliver real business benefit. If you want the benefit, you must recognize that there is much more change associated with it.\nMy advice: don\u2019t drive your desired change from a technology-first perspective. Instead, drive it from a business-impact-first perspective. Make sure your approach to transformation is not about the technology or the disruption. First, understand what the disruption enables, then look at the business benefit and then drive it from the business benefit back to the technology.