Digital is in the eye of the beholder
Digital transformations are all the rage, but what can we do to make it stick?
Digital transformations are going to lay the foundations for the sustainable growth of our companies for years to come, right? If only it were that simple. If someone tells me they are experiencing a digital transformation I honestly have no idea what that means. In general, we can assume it involves that somewhere in the organisation that something digital has been added to do something that was a) never done before or b) not digital before. Beyond that we don’t really know. Adding digital elements is easy, however transforming an organisation is a much more complex venture.
I believe that we need to transform our mindset when it comes to digital. Let’s look at a few ‘digital + [business terminology]’ constructs and my bottom line about how to tackle the challenges that these issues present:
A digital strategy is not really a strategy, is it? Of course, it’s 2017, so an organisational strategy with no digital considerations is not worth the paper it’s written on. A digital-only strategy is no better, as it’ll be so isolated that executing this strategy will prove difficult when nobody can see how it fits into your big picture. It is time to integrate a digital element into our strategies to move with technological and social development without abandoning our core purpose, our reason for being. If an organisation can reimagine the company offering in the digital sphere while at the same time staying true to the existing offering, then they are on to a winner. For me, that is the first step on the road to sustainability, but it is easier said than done.
Bottom Line – We need to share a clear 2020 vision to bring the combined digital and non-digital evolution of our organisations to life and begin to build alignment.
Really? We are still talking about disruption? I don’t expect that people can foresee the ways in which disruptive newcomers will remould their industry or field, but if business leaders still find this phenomenon surprising then they have had their head in the sand for far too long! Disruption is the new normal, we must keep pace with the changes. Agility and responsiveness are the key characteristics of the modern organisation and the modern employee. What’s more digital is the medium for disruption, but once the hype has died down digital will still be here. We can’t all lead the charge but we can build preparedness within our people and processes.
Bottom Line – Our company cultures need to genuinely value and promote adaptability & agility whilst remaining loyal to the original values that made us successful.
Digital readiness comprises two major elements- skills and trust. I believe the biggest area of concern is the lack of digital competence. This is misguided. Providing people with development opportunities is essential when introducing new technology, however this only deals with hands (i.e. The ability to execute new operations). What about the initiatives to win ‘hearts and minds’? Make no mistake, digital transformations are complex change projects and need to be treated as such. Structured communication activities, networks of change leaders and rewarding change are some examples of best practice in change management.
Bottom Line – It is essential to focus on skills development and change strategies when preparing the workforce for a digital transformation.
Organisations want employees to engage in the digital transformation envisioned at the top. Neglecting to engage employees in the process of digitisation of your organisation is a sure-fire way to stir up unrest. When you push, people may feel pressured and begin to suspect an ulterior motive, and then tales of big brother type surveillance are not far away. However, if you take the time to consult your employees in the design, detail and delivery of your digital masterplan then the likelihood of adoption will increase. We need to be talking about engagement in the company’s future, not engagement in the singular process of going digital.
Bottom Line –Leverage our people functions to form partnerships with employees will continuously enhance the design of our employee experience and create better business results.
Bringing it all together the most important thing is to frame any transformation, digital or otherwise, as a people project, not as introducing technology, updating processes or a dreaded box ticking exercise. Technology and processes are some of the supporting pillars in the greater changes that occur in the mindset of the people and the culture of the organisation. If we set the vision, communicate it well and incorporate everything into a wider experience, then there is a much greater chance of success. When making change happen take your people with you on every step of the journey.