By: Michael Hughes
Corporate culture is the defining element in ensuring a successful digital transformation journey. Transforming to a customer-centric, digitally minded business which can build Agile capabilities and develop internal talent allows for the space in which flexible, scalable, evolving technology platforms can evolve in an organic and sustainable way.
The traditional view of an organisation is one in which structure, from hierarchical order to roles, responsibilities and departments, is its defining feature and is indicative of how it performs. Digital transformation, however, places an emphasis on work culture, a set of practices and attitudes that are key to executing the required transformation to remain competitive. An over emphasis on organisational structure over organisational attitude leads to stagnation, a lack of inventiveness, and eventually failure to grasp the opportunities presented by innovative technological practices.
Whilst the deficiencies are easily identifiable, from departmental silos, functional fragmentation and lack of leadership, the solutions are not as easily implemented due to the intimidation felt by many that the task is all consuming and leads to key actors having their attention taken away from day to day business operations in the pursuit of more long terms aims. It’s important to remember that developing the cultural shift required is about understanding that change can be millimetric if necessary as long as change is continuously occurring; the company five-year, command economy style of management is dead. Being able to maintain a momentum and with it a workable rhythm over a prolonged period is key if you are to achieve success.
All this leads to the conclusion that digital transformation is not primarily about technology, its about people and the processes they standardise in the pursuit of such transformation. Its about allowing the appropriate culture to find the technology that plays a complementary role which suits the unique requirements of the business, rather than rushing towards the next great device, app or software without due consideration to its impact and the ability of internal talent to utilise it. The ability to bend technology to your will takes organisational patience, thoughtfulness and confidence.
Rather than sticking to a defensive posture, adopt an attacking one. Rather than viewing customers as distant, view them as central. Rather than using data as a means by which to measure past performance, use data to analyse current performance and future project. Rather than be risk averse, choose to fail faster and learn from your mistakes. Rather than conduct isolationist market research, choose to listen and learn in real time through customer profile analysis. Rather than maintain an outdated, overtly hierarchical structure, choose minimal hierarchy which allows for a more democratic space in which key decision influencers can interact with decision makers.
By addressing the key elements required for digital transformation and adopting organisational agility over rigidity, both SME’s and large-scale enterprises will be able to begin their journey with a clear strategy, learn from those already engaged in such transformation, be better prepared for the disruptive role technology plays in business and ensure their continuing existence regardless of future fluctuations in the global economy.