Digital transformation has become the catchall buzz phrase. Articles are simply shared on social media and do the rounds because that’s what you do. But what does digital transformation really mean to companies and individuals? Does anyone know?
Digital Transformation; Does Anyone Really Know What It Means?
Anyone clicking on this article will be thinking about digital transformation. But the real problem is actually grappling with what it really means to organizations in practical terms. It might seem like a set of instructions but really it’s much more holistic than that. It’s about creating a transversal view of what you do and how you do it and for whom you are doing it.
Be Suspicious, Curious And Opportunist
Businesses that understand the digital transformation philosophy have one thing in common: they don’t view their world from one single perspective. They tend to respond to a range of drivers. They also do their best to be clear regarding threats and opportunities and also consider the interconnections between these multiple drivers.
How You Think As Well As What You Do Are Keys
Digital transformation is not something that can be bolted on to a company. It’s a frame of mind, a philosophy a modus operandi, a belief. The most important aspect of all this is profound. When it comes to digitally transforming it’s an ongoing process. It’s not about abandoning paper billing for digital it’s much more than that.
As We Know, The Only Certainty Is Change
It’s not just difference either, change happens at break neck pace. Therefore it’s impossible to develop a proforma, a one size fits all approach. This is why digital transformation is so difficult to handle and isn’t something that can be ‘implemented and forgotten about’.
Think Back To The First Industrial Revolution
Steam suddenly made a reliable power source available. Machines increased production and transformed the economy. With faster ships and the coming of the canals and railways, communication and the movement of people and goods became much easier.
But these weren’t the only changes. Marx suggested as the forces of technological production improved then the social forms of organization actually become outmoded and inefficient. It is these factors that profoundly stifle progress. Is that what’s holding your organizations back right now?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution Is Upon Us.
Business infrastructure will never be the same. But it’s not enough to update process. The wider context is what really matters and it’s probably this that is so damn slippery. But actually the biggest change that should fuel any transformation is the customer experience. They are expecting experiences not just transactions. They are expecting value. Most importantly they are expecting transparency.
Are You Suffering From Digital Darwinism?
Without creativity, agility and flexibility then businesses might well become victims of what Brian Solis called ‘Digital Darwinism.’ You might think that all your business needs to do is be one of the fittest to survive. Of course it’s not as simple as that. You don’t want to adapt to your ecosystem and find it impossible to exist elsewhere. You cannot be so specialised that you require a delicate balance of circumstances or ecosystem to survive.
What Is The True Differentiator?
The real role for a company that is digitally transforming is to become more relevant wherever and whenever there are relationships to be developed. Right now that could be just about anywhere, any place and anytime. We do have the option to change how we develop these interactions. Actually, customer service is the only real differentiator for business. If you can create powerful, meaningful and highly positive experiences then it ceases to be purely transactional. All the company processes should underpin this end game. This is what transformation and the process of transforming is all about.
Deep Connections Will Bring Forward Considerable Benefits
You’ll find your consumers will actually share their experiences. Word of mouth has never been more powerful than right now. Inevitably you become the ‘go to’ organization for future business. Powerful relationships have always driven business. They just look slightly different now, that’s all. The key has got to be innovation. There’s no point in doing what everyone else is doing because by then you are too late.
Disruptive Technology Is Here So Live With It
Crowdfunding is here and digital natives are here. Therefore you have three things that create a perfect storm. A startup can be up and running in no time. Your success will not save you. We live in an ego-centric world and loyalty has to be pretty fierce for customers to put that above their own needs. If you don’t personalise your offering then both employees and consumers are going to go somewhere else.
That may well sound like a dog-eat-dog scenario but actually it really is a great opportunity to create what has been described as ‘ stellar experiences’ but human ones at that. So don’t limit your digital transformation vision. Grab our key takeaways today:
Key Takeaways To Digitally Transform Your Business
- Look at your product, service or brand from the customer viewpoint. You cannot afford to be disconnected and that means putting the customer first.
- Don’t ignore competition because you just don’t know what is around the corner. That means it’s essential to keep an eye on your industry press, on Kickstarter, Crowdcube and all the other crowd funding arenas to see just what’s coming on stream.
- Learn, unlearn, relearn has to be the company mantra.
- Promote critical thinking, emotional intelligence, cognitive flexibility and creativity. That means reviewing your staff as well as your products.
- Continue to explore opportunities and threats, always.
- See digital as an enabler rather than a cure all.
- Find out what customers really want first before investing.
- Adapt to change within an agile organization. Restructure and consider working from both bottom up and top down.
- Beware the complacency of the fluent. You cannot afford to be unconsciously or even consciously incompetent. Banish ‘we’ve always done it this way’ from every conversation. Be open-minded; you have entered the new paradigm of open innovation.
- Promote innovative collaboration across the organization and don’t maintain existing silos. Focus on groups not individuals.
Essential Further Reading
Bounfour, Ahmed Digital Futures, Digital Transformation Springer 2016
Solis, Brian, X The experience when business meets design Wiley 2015