Digital transformation is not (only) about technology

by Rossen Jekov - IT Excellence & Change Practice Lead | minutes read

Digital transformation seems set to remain the hottest topic across the boardroom table, as CIOs and CEOs continue to grapple with today’s many new technologies: from machine learning and blockchain to artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). But our boardrooms’ strong common focus on all these rapidly emerging technologies also holds a certain danger. For, contrary to what many would have us believe, the numerous challenges set by today’s digital tidal wave are not solely of a technological nature.

In fact, when adapting to the new realities of business (or The New Normal, as some prefer to call it), getting these new technologies on board could well turn out to be the easiest hurdle your organisation will be forced to take. For let’s face it: change management remains first and foremost people management. And as is usually the case with these big transformational projects, changing people’s mindsets and behaviours, in the end, is where the real challenge lies. 

Getting and keeping your people on board.

When talking – or in my case: writing – about digital transformation, you run that same all-too-real risk of focusing too strongly on the technological aspects of this profound transformational change process. It is therefore good – necessary even, I dare say – to remind yourself from time to time of the importance of addressing certain cultural aspects of that process as well.

One example, in this case, is the need to open up your ecosystem beyond your organisational boundaries. With this, we touch upon a basic requirement to succeed in the digital economy: the ability to navigate open ecosystems where data flows beyond the organizational boundaries and customer value is created across different service providers.

This in turn allows you, among other things, to design your customer experience from the outside in: a hugely important shift made possible by today’s new technologies, which let you continuously collect in-depth input from your customers. Various digital channels are used, for instance, to communicate with your customers, thereby becoming an integrated part of your service delivery. Digital tools are also used as the primary source to rapidly adapt your service offering to your customers and the market.

Cultural transformation.

Not every employee is ready, however, for that major shift towards open ecosystems and a digital customer experience strategy. That is why you need to design – or redesign – your employee experience as well. Which is where digital leadership comes into play, taking as its main mission to build a trustful and open corporate culture that allows for friendly yet mindful failures.

In other words: in order for your digital transformation to succeed, you need to transform your corporate culture as well, bringing a culture inside your organisation that allows your employees to cope with uncertainty. But first and foremost, you need to recognise the fears in your employees that may hamper your transformation intent

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