Digital transformation may be critical for modern day business survival, but more than half (51%) of companies feel outdated compared to competitors, a Globant report found. The most popular tech investments currently include Internet of Things (IoT) (31%), cloud (27%), and intelligent automation (16%), but unclear goals and poor communication prevent these from having technological success.

Globant’s Cutting Through the Chaos: How to Bring Success to Digital Transformation Initiatives report, released on Wednesday, surveyed 300 US business decision makers on how organizations execute digital strategy. Professionals identified collaboration, defined goals, and employee input as keys to digital success.

SEE: Digital transformation: An IT pro’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

“One of the more prominent things that brings chaos is the lack of a goal behind the transformation,” said Emiliano Horcada, digital transformation partner at Globant. “In most cases, organizations need to transform, but they don’t have a clear view on what they need to change or who they want to become.”

Leadership also plays a crucial role in maintaining the sanity of an organization experiencing digital transformation, Horcada said.

The report drew similar conclusions, identifying the top characteristics of digitally mature organizations as those with clear, digitally driven business goals and leadership dedicated to growth (28%).

Collaboration across departments (52%) was also cited as the most valuable capability in helping organizations successfully execute internal digital initiatives. The ability to access relevant data and turn it into actionable insights for decision making (47%) came in second, the report found.

How to maneuver the chaos

Along with forming coherent goals, organizations must create a common language for clear understanding and progress management, the report noted.

“It is highly important to create a common language for success,” Horcada said. “And when a new idea for digital transformation comes into place, take it through this language of questioning or evaluation and have an agreement over if this is the right next step or not.”

The top motivators for adopting new technologies included improving user experiences (52%), using data more intelligently (46%), and evolving products and services (35%). Organizations want these initiatives to help improve both internal operations (69%) and relationships with customers (73%), the report found.

These goals can only be achieved through thoughtful leadership and clear communication. Leadership isn’t necessarily reserved only for the C-suite; the report emphasized the employee’s importance in the digital transformation journey.

Some 42% of organizations loop employees in only after the digital transformation is in place, which is a huge mistake, Horcada said.

Involving those who aren’t just high-ranked executives creates a multidisciplinary team, democratizing the technology and facilitating more ideas and better decision making. The return of that investment is seen quickly during the digital transformation journey, Horcada noted.

Giving everyone a voice in the digital transformation process and investing in technologies that benefit both internal and external persons will keep digital transformation initiatives on track, according to the report.

For more, check out 7 ways to accelerate digital transformation success on TechRepublic.