Digital transformation is being talked about everywhere - from small to medium-sized business to large global organisations, digital transformation is helping to breathe new life into a wide variety of commercial concerns. But what exactly is digital transformation, how are the best companies doing it well, and what challenges do you need to look out for?
Transforming an organisation is hard work. According to the McKinsey Global Survey, companies are no better at it than they were ten years ago. While we understand that senior leaders should be engaged, it seems we still struggle to engage front-line staff and their managers - and that is where most of the failures stem from.
What is digital transformation?
One definition is – the use of any type of digital technology to provide better products and services, and ultimately a better customer experience. But it’s a bit more than that. If considered properly, digital transformation should:
- improve efficiency;
- enhance value for customers;
- help to manage risk; and
- identify new business opportunities.
Many businesses couldn’t exist without the new wave of digital technologies now available.
New heights of operational excellence, greatly improved customer service, and better data that helps you to make more timely decisions – digital transformation can bring all these rewards and take your business to a new level. Successful digital transformation comes in many forms and there have been plenty of good news stories over the last few years.
If we consider that the technology behind companies like YouTube, Facebook, Uber and Airbnb is less than ten years old, we can see how far digital transformation has progressed. And we’re seeing an endless conveyor belt of new tech, from 3D printers to consumer virtual reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning – to name just a few.
When savvy entrepreneurs figure out how to make a business out of these technologies, we’ll see the new Facebook or YouTube – and we’ll probably not have to wait another ten years. Most of the big global players are working their way through digital transformation projects. For example:
- L’Oréal invested in upskilling their staff and recruiting new digital specialists
- Coca-Cola reshuffled its leadership team to focus on growth, innovation, and digital strategy
- Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club, a young start-up, for $1 billion so they could introduce a new subscription sales model
Digital transformation was at the heart of these changes, and represented a new strategy for capitalising on the benefits of new technology and innovative ways of working.
Focus on change management and people
It’s one thing creating a new company around innovative digital technology, but how does digital transformation apply to existing companies? In many cases, digital transformation gives us a chance to do a root-and-branch review of all that’s going on in our organisation.
Leadership and culture is the most important element when driving transformation and by making as many employees digitally literate their investment will definitely up-skill keen employees whilst retaining key staff. The sum of all these efforts is increased revenues and profits.Source: Which-50.com
More and more companies are realising that digital transformation has less to do with technology and more to do with good old-fashioned change management principles. Any form of change should involve us thinking about the before and after. Where do you see your organisation in two, three, four or five years’ time? What will everyone be doing differently and what new abilities, skills or attitudes will you need to get there?
The biggest change in the workplace in the last few years has been the pace of change. In business, every day is a learning day. Our ability to learn and adapt quickly is the new competitive advantage. And many companies are waking up to this fact by bringing in new ways to work, learn and collaborate to get the best ideas working for them. The key to successful digital transformation is a change in mindset. Agility and speed to market is everything these days, so how do we help our staff embrace this agility?
Today’s tech and customer needs, and our competitors, change faster than most of us can keep up with. Think about how most organisations used to work – weekly, monthly or quarterly reporting was common, with retrospective figures that were almost out of date as soon as they were written. But many organisations are changing this and moving to real-time dashboards with 24/7 constant monitoring and reporting of customer trends. From social media listening to real-time news reports, data is readily available and can be acted on immediately. That is a big mindset shift for most of us – you could say, an analogue to digital mindset shift.
Digital disruption of workplace learning
Because of the
pace of change in business, we can't
keep learning and doing as two
Continuous learning and lifelong learning are now what builds and support a career. And if we expect our staff to develop an agile mindset and the ability to work differently, then we need to support them in an agile and flexible way. From old ways of learning, like week-long classroom onboarding courses, we need to move to just-in time, targeted services, learning at the point of need.
We also need introduce new learning technologies that gets information across in a more engaging way – and make it stick. Luckily, workplace learning is another area undergoing digital transformation.
Agile and user-friendly learning experience platforms are replacing the old corporate learning management system that everyone hated. Staff can quickly access high quality video-based content on any device, anywhere. Microlearning in bite-sized chunks is replacing the tired, old, boring eLearning – and it’s about time, too! Our staff are digital content consumers of the modern age – and now they can get their digital learning content in the same format.
Who is doing the people side of digital transformation well?
Fosway Group, Europe's number one HR analyst, recently produced an Innovation Profile on Sky - Ripping Up the Rule Book of People Development. Sky, like most organisations in the entertainment and communications sector, has gone through repeated transformation over its 30 year history. Through a series of iterative steps, Sky's People Development team helped shift the company mindset to flexible and agile working practices and provide better opportunities for learning and development at the point of need throughout the business.
Corporate learning is being disrupted like all areas of business! See what other business leaders think in our infographic.