Companies that stand out as digitally progressive aren’t necessarily technophiles or spendthrifts. In reality, technology accounts for only one (though important) part of the digital transformation equation. Every organization needs more than a 3D printer, a cloud solution, or a mobile device policy to truly transform—it needs to undergo an entire cultural shift.
Digital goals vary, depending on willingness to accept risk
Over 80 percent of digitally mature companies employ an actionable digital strategy. They use numerous technology-driven solutions to meet mobile, social, and cloud-based business goals, and they attract talent because of their demonstrated commitment to cutting-edge technology. Companies starting their digital transformation journeys often take a different approach. They prefer to invest in digital technology that solves a particular set of business issues. These differences offer insight into the need for managed digital risk. To excel in this digitalized world, companies must take a calculated risk with new technology and methodologies.
For example, e-commerce store Zappos offers to find products from a competitor if they are not in stock. How many companies offer that level of support? The risk of potentially losing a customer to a competitor paid off for Zappos—repeat business accounts for three quarters of the enterprise’s online orders. Digital leaders who accept a healthy level of risk can serve as digital transformation champions.
Technology is the tool—but human capital is the driving force
Technology in and of itself doesn’t do much. A large, multi-national corporation could invest half a million dollars in a new CRM system, but if employees don’t use the tool, it offers no benefit. Digital pathways vary from organization to organization, but one element of transformation remains the same. The humans working on a day-to-day basis within a business are the ones who determine the success or failure of any tech implementation.
The title of the recently launched book Digital to the Core: Remastering Leadership for Your Industry, Your Enterprise, and Yourself, by Mark Raskino and Graham Waller, says it all. To truly succeed in the digital world, a business leader must reformulate industry paradigms, develop a pathway for change at the enterprise level, and commit personally to reimagining the leadership role in light of digital change.
Digital to the core means making a fundamental business change inside and out. People in today’s world focus on experiences more than material objects. They want to find fulfillment in their work, and they want to perform in collaborative, forward-thinking environments. Adjusting mindsets to look forward and embrace digital change is the first step in becoming a mature digital company.
Micro-innovation helps organizations enact meaningful change
When someone goes on a diet and seeks advice from a nutritionist, the expert will often recommend focusing on losing one or two pounds per week. If most people try to enact big changes at once, they fail. It doesn’t matter if you apply the analogy to health, education, or technology rollouts—a slow and steady approach improves the long-term success rate.
Businesses started to catch onto this trend and apply the principle of micro-innovation in the workplace. Instead of overhauling legacy infrastructures and creating massive training sessions for employees to relearn their essential job functions, they’re opting for smaller changes.
Large tech companies discovered the power of micro-innovation several years ago. Today, for example, most Apple updates occur incrementally. They slowly add to or transform application features and prepare users for big changes with numerous support resources. As one of the most intuitive technology enterprises in the world, it makes sense for companies to follow their user-friendly leads.
Build a set of effective digital characteristics
Here are some tips that apply to every organization trying to enact permanent digital changes:
- Aim high. Cloud technology puts incredible functionality in the hands of small and medium sized businesses. Your company isn’t too small or too old to change.
- Adopt micro-innovations. Go slow. Take your time, and focus on developing digital processes that drive fundamental business processes.
- Transform yourself into a digital champion. Place yourself as a technology enabler. Focus on the benefits, and find other like-minded individuals to carry the banners with you.
- Focus on the people. You need more than owner/executive buy-in to create a digital transformation. Provide ongoing, simple training to empower the employees who will use digital processes on a daily basis.
With small, strategy-driven changes, any company can successfully build a culture of change. People committed to leading the charge are at the core of digitalization.
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