Probably the most talked about buzzword to sweep the world of business in recent times is digital transformation.
Probably the most talked about buzzword to sweep the world of business in recent times is digital transformation. Nearly every organisation is pushing ahead with full steam to transform themselves digitally. After all, you can’t live in the digital age if you are not digital yourself, can you?
Digital transformation involves integrating technology into every aspect of a business—from product development to research and marketing to sales—to completely change how they operate. When done right, the benefits an organisation can reap are huge—your profitability rises, your workforce is more efficient, and your operations are streamlined. But, merely integrating technology into every aspect of your business does not mean that the transformation will be successful.
One of the most important aspects of digital transformation is altering the cultural fabric of an organisation. You need to foster values that complement the transformation and sustain it in the long run. Culture is the work ethos, perceptions, and attitudes that your employees bring in their work. Without the right cultural environment, a digital transformation is unlikely to lead to any lasting change.
Elements of a digital culture
Organisational culture must change in order for digital transformations to be successful. But, what should it shift to? What does the shift look like? Here are the characteristics of a truly digital organisation.
Agile: Digital technology evolves at an exponential rate. Therefore, if teams have to stay ahead of the curve, they must be agile. That is, learn and reflect on the move. And here, failing is a good thing. The sooner you fail, the sooner you can learn and evolve.
Collaborative: Agile requires teams to break out of their shells and communicate with each other. It requires teams to leverage each other’s strengths to achieve organisational objectives.
Customer-centricity: The digital age is also the age of the consumer. The value of a product lies in how much consumers can benefit from them. The race is lost, if a product does not fulfill a consumer’s needs. While employees are orienting themselves with the organisation, organisations are doing the same with customers. Therefore, employees must have consumers at the centre of all actions and tasks they perform.
Risk-taking: Think about what Uber or Airbnb have achieved. These experiments could very well have failed, but by discovering the untapped potential of those who owned homes and cars and connecting them with those who needed these services, they were able to create a billion-dollar market without actually needing to make capital investments.
Empowered workforce: You cannot expect your employees to be risk-taking, agile, and collaborative if they are bogged down by the weight of the organisational hierarchy. Employees must be empowered to fail—and to learn from these failures. Netflix, one of the most popular media companies in the world, built a culture of freedom and responsibility. If you empower your employees to innovate, they will reciprocate by taking that up as a responsibility and rising to meet the challenge.
Culture change is probably the hardest part of a digital transformation. While it is relatively easy to adopt technological solutions and take less time, changing the organisation culture requires patience and can be time-consuming. The C-suite must be prepared to engage and empower the employees in this journey and most importantly lead by example.
The writer is vice-president – Digital, Maveric Systems