In today’s blog I want to explore some of the problem areas with digital (and by default digital transformation consultancy) and start to look at ways in which you can start to overcome these to create an informed view and vision of digital for your organisation.
What is digital? It may seem like a silly question, but digital means a lot of different things to different people. For some, digital is all about computers (in other words hardware) and systems. Meanwhile, others view it as a channel for communication or connectivity. There’s people for whom it immediately sparks images of the future and emerging technologies (AR, VR, AI, automation, etc). And in business, it can symbolise a whole new way of working. All of these are correct but not necessarily complete.
Digital surrounds us as professionals and in a personal capacity. As users, we often view ‘digital’ in siloes according to our use and understanding of it. My dad, for example, once described my job as “building computers” to a friend - which, on top of giving me way too much technical credit, is wildly inaccurate.
But in business, this can be dangerous. This confused definition can lead to a misalignment in vision and multiple projects that do just part of the job. It means opportunities are missed, resources potentially wasted and can create an inability to achieve that big audacious goal.
When we look at digital from a digital transformation perspective, it encompasses three core areas: people, processes and tools - in that order. It touches almost every facet of an organisation, both internally and externally, underpinning both operational activity and audience relations/delivery. It’s very much a way of doing rather than material things. In essence, the tools and technologies are simply enablers to our people and processes.
So, what can you do to tackle this head on? Run a workshop with key business stakeholders and establish a common understanding of what digital is to your organisation. Test this with various audiences (internal and external) and make sure it is fully comprehensive of your application of digital. From there, step two is to then define what success with ‘digital’ looks like.
The really hard part is then practicing what you preach. Stakeholders at all levels, especially leaders, need to use the right language, encourage the right behaviours and ensure the cultural mind-set aligns with your strategic vision for digital. It can be incremental rather than revolutionary, but it needs to be consistent.
Digital has changed everything
The game is different
Digitally native businesses are starting to infringe on powerful industries. Just look at how the GAFAs (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) are circling the banking industry, looking for new ways to create value and participate without a lot of the burden traditional businesses face. New business models built on digital and an ability to be agile are becoming increasingly prevalent - changing the game for everyone involved. And, with this, come new risks - security, data privacy, etc.
The players are different
Global smartphone subscribers are due to reach 5.9 billion by 2021 and Facebook and YouTube now boast in excess of 1 billion users. We speak to our devices now and have allowed AI personas into our homes. Digital technology changes how customers experience our brands, products and services. And, it changes what they value.
Digital has encouraged a more expectant audience. It has created an era in which your audiences expect 24-7, swift responses, multiple routes to customer service, the ability to self-serve on the go, and an abundance of choice.
The language is different
As businesses begin to operate in a more digital way, they need to adopt new terms, skills and ways of conversing. And this has created a major cavity in understanding, in confidence, in skill sets and comparable output. The ability to deliver for a tech savvy individual compared with an analogue native can be vastly different.
Yet, despite all these changes, many businesses continue to operate in the same old way. So, what can you do about it? We need to change with the times and look to new ways of working. Technologies are not transformative on their own, we need to review how they can best enable our people and add value to our propositions. We need to create people-obsessed models.
Digital is always changing. Creating a digital strategy is too short-sighted. So we need to create business strategies that are inherently digital. We believe that true digital transformation looks to put digital at the heart of your business, not to create an effective layer of digital.
- Assess your digital maturity and use this as a benchmark for success
- Review those legacy systems - yes it’s hard work and will take considerable time but they are one of the biggest barriers to success
- Assess your people’s skills & invest in closing the gaps (continuously)
- Remember that the right choice is often not the easy choice
- Digital is just part of the picture, it is not the silver bullet. So, be realistic in your expectations
- Challenge assumptions and the status quo
- Educate your people on how digital adds value to their job - improving productivity, streamlining processes, solving problems, interacting with customers, etc
- Lead from the front and drive consistency on all levels
It’s important to keep in mind that operational excellence is also key, not just customer experience. Digital can support both.
Technological prowess is already becoming a dominant source of competitive advantage. But, there’s an assumption that this will be to the cost of human interactions (and ultimately jobs). However, what we’ve witnessed is that the biggest winners are those businesses who not only excel at identifying and adopting the right technologies for their customers and processes, but leverage this technology to further empower their people. People plus technology equates to a powerful formula.
So, if you’re considering undergoing digital transformation consultancy, remember that digital will keep on changing and so your business needs to be flexible enough to do so also - this is not an end game, it’s a series of checkpoints. In essence, you need to think about what we like to call your ‘digital evolution’. To be competitive you need to look at how digital can support you in best serving your audiences and adding value.