Digital Transformation is the mantra of today’s business. The advancement of new technology is leaving companies with 2 choices: disrupting or being disrupted. With this 7-step road map to Digital Transformation, you should be able to start the digitalisation journey right away.
In addition to digital technologies, the execution of a digital strategy requires the right people with the right skill sets. You can either bring new digital skills into the company via recruitment or focus on the development of current employees.
On the recruitment side, the good news is that the Digital Transformation itself could actually help your hiring efforts. In a MIT Sloan’s study, almost 80 per cent of respondents say they want to work for a digitally enabled company. So you can turn your digital vision into the recruitment tool. By positioning your company as a digital leader, you will have a better chance of attracting the right talent.
Also, the above result applies to all age groups. So it is crucial to avoid the misconception that only young employees are interested in digital disruption or possess the needed skills.
Regarding the development of current employees, you can opt for a wide variety of new training approaches, such as online training platforms like Udemy or General Assembly, on-demand training content delivered to employees’ mailboxes or mobile devices, and TED-like talks featuring executives. More important, learning now should be a lifelong experience because technology and customer expectations are evolving fast.
The last step will make sure the transformation will be moved from the margins to the mainstream of your business.
The building blocks of this new operating model are a Digital Culture and cross-functional teams.
The Digital Culture
Digital Transformation is a lot more than the adoption of new technologies. It is about fundamentally changing how an organisation operates. As such, the cultural aspect of Digital Transformation cannot be overlooked.
It is also the responsibility of the CEO and the C-suite to create and nurture the key values of a digital culture: agility, open and collaborative mentality, and an appetite for risk.
The ability to adapt is more important in today’s digital world than technology skills, according to Perry Hewitt, Chief Digital Officer at Harvard University. Creating a workplace environment conducive to self-learning, continuous improvement, and adaptation, therefore, is one crucial part of the cultural shift.
You can take advantage of technology to increase agility by enabling constant monitor of KPIs such as website traffic, service ratings, number of customers, etc. using live dashboards instead of monthly or quarterly reports.
As products, services, and customer preferences are becoming increasingly complex, collaborative efforts among different departments and business functions have to become the norm.
In particular, many companies have turned their attention to social collaboration tools such as Yammer, Slack, or Jira. These tools boost workplace collaboration in two ways.
First, they facilitate more open communication, both formal and informal, among employees. When employees are getting to know each other on a more personal level, they are more likely to ask for a favour or offer to help each other.
Second, they help employees discover relevant information and knowledge that would otherwise be contained within departmental silos. For example, a salesperson can come across a conversation among members of the marketing team and find a report about competitors that the salesperson would otherwise not know that it exists.
These tools are web-based and should take little time and effort to implement. Moreover, millennial employees will find them particularly familiar.
For senior executives, social collaboration tools also present a unique opportunity to listen to what employees have to say, catch new ideas, and spot potential problems.
Playing it safe is no longer acceptable when disruption is the new normal. Innovation cannot be spurred without a tolerance for failure. Digital giants like Google or Apple fail all the time, which is why they can continue to churn out innovative products and services. In most cases, however, both managers and employees are averse to failure. The senior executives must communicate to their managers and employees about the importance of taking risks and encourage them to be bolder.
Another building block of this new operating model is cross-functional digital teams. In essence, digitalisation is the process of breaking down organisational silos and barriers. As such, digital projects should be driven by cross-functional teams, with people from IT function and business functions. The team may also include representatives from outside partners such as clients, suppliers, and agencies.
These digital teams should be assembled based on a particular product, service, or customer journey. For example, a project launching mobile payment service should be implemented by a team whose members are from the functions of sales, IT, finance, and from the mobile platform vendor. Or a project aiming at collecting and analysing customer data would require the involvement of the operations, marketing, and IT function.
Starling Bank, a UK-based fintech start-up, has gone even further. The digital bank does not have a separate IT function. Instead, engineers sit with people from other functions to build the technology. “This is a very different engagement model. We listen to customers, and we build working software; there is very little else in between,” said Anne Boden, Starling Bank’s Founder and CEO.
These teams should be relatively autonomous and given ownership of the journeys, products, or services they are responsible for. Also, cross-functional teams are a great way to spark new ideas because each member brings in a different perspective and skill sets.
There are lessons you can learn from digital winners in order to increase your Digital Transformation effort’s prospects for success.
A bold and coherent digital strategy that is closely tied to the corporate strategy is of utmost importance. Such strategy should be driven from the very top by the CEO, with buy-in from all departments. Your Digital Transformation effort should be directed at all 5 digital dimensions, but should also be started with a lighthouse project that aims for quick wins.
Digital disruption has created new ecosystems where companies of all sizes can have access to low-cost, on-demand capabilities and technologies. This, in turn, allows companies to significantly accelerate their digital transformation. Standing on the shoulders of other digital giants could be the ultimate shortcut to getting started with Digital Transformation.
And finally, companies cannot overlook the cultural shift of Digital Transformation. The three key hallmarks of a Digital Culture are: agility, collaboration, and an appetite for risk.
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