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Orienting your Culture to Win the Digital Transformation Game

Updated: May 14, 2019

By: Siddharth Wadehra, Digital Transformation Consultant

Companies all over the world have embraced the fact that digital transformation is key to the survival of incumbent enterprises faced with stiff competition from disruptive startups. In response to this, your organization may have hired consultants, poured millions of dollars into upgrading your tech infrastructure and developed digital solutions to keep customers at the very center of your journey. However, you may have also found your digital transformation journey taking longer than expected despite these investments.

A 2014 Deloitte study of more than 5,000 innovations over the past 15 years calculated an aggregate success rate of only 4.5 percent, mainly attributed to a gross underestimation of challenges related to people. With digital transformation, or any change in an organization for that matter, people have to be ready, willing, and able in order to achieve sustainable benefits. Think of change initiatives like your New Year’s resolutions - you start the year with lofty personal goals to change for the better, but most of the time the change just doesn’t stick. Imagine then how hard it would be if someone else wrote your resolutions for you. This is what every employee experiences when change initiatives are presented to them by their boss, or an external consultant. And this is why even with substantial investments in technology upgrades, an organization might not be able to completely realize its full productivity and operational benefits. This points to the case for giving due attention and nurture towards the ‘people’ aspect of digital transformation.

This article provides key takeaways on how you can cultivate the right work culture for your digital transformation success.

By putting just as much emphasis on change management as they do on understanding new technologies, companies will likely see better returns on their investments. Only the companies who deem both technology and people as equally important aspects in their quest to digital transformation are most likely to attain ‘digital mastery’ and could be a case study for other companies who wish to accelerate their transformation journeys.

1. Upskill employees

With the rapid strides your organization is taking to advance digital technology, it is also important for the Human Resources Department to concentrate on evolving talent management processes and structures. There are a number of external resources which organizations have already started tapping into, while some of the more ambitious ones have developed their own internal infrastructure to cater to upskilling their employee base.

Moreover, some organizations which are on their way to attain digital mastery already include gamification and AI talent management in their recruitment process. Firms need to be proactive in comprehending their evolving talent management needs and be nimble to help people achieve the required skillset to be competitive in a business environment that is heavily adapting to technology changes.

2. Break down silos

Companies now need to view digital transformation as a program that affects all functions rather than sitting solely within the IT department. One of the reasons for the slow adoption of digital transformation initiatives in most traditional companies include the silos which the different business functions operate in. The figure below depicts how the three layers of traditional businesses operate and their lack of coordination between each of those layers. Compare this with the digital business stack where digital born companies create products and services in an open and rapid fashion with all the three organizational layers in absolute sync with each other, driving effectiveness and the speed of strategic decision making. The stark difference in both approaches shows that in digital-born companies, multi-disciplinary agile teams focus more on the flow of user information rather than being dominated by the flow shaped by demands of entrenched silos. To cater to the complexity of today’s business ecosystems, capabilities for rapid experimentation must exist and must be integrated across the various layers of the organization - technical, organizational and strategic.

Break Down Silos

Break Down Silos

Put customers first

3. Put customers first

Customers, especially the digital consumer which brands are fervently trying to tap into, now demand greater mobility. They crave seamless and transparent access to information, as well as engaging user experiences. Digital consumers now have extremely high expectations when it comes to customer service – and when these aren’t met, they can easily go elsewhere. This is why customers are at the very heart of digital transformation and this part should be emphasized while transforming the culture of the organization.

It is important to note that while an organization is undertaking digital transformation, its complexity can often overwhelm the executives and the team as a whole. In trying to keep up with the pressing deadlines and tight budgets, customer centricity also becomes hazy. Starting with activities like Customer Journey Mapping to build empathy towards customers and by constantly asking everyone “How will this decision affect the customer journey?”, companies would already be long way ahead in realizing its potential benefits.

4. Exercise visionary leadership and embrace change

Digital transformation is an ongoing process as opposed to it being perceived as a one-time initiative. It is very important for the team to have a culture of adapting itself to change and making themselves comfortable with uncertainty. Equally important is the need for visionary leadership to drive this massive transformation. Leaders need to create and provide a clear digital roadmap for all employees and champion the customer every step of the way in order to achieve the digital business objectives.

Overspending on unnecessary technologies and underutilization of very useful ones have hindered companies to take on digital transformation initiatives. By having a renewed focus on the customer and the changes involving people and culture inside your organization, you will be able to unlock what digital transformation really means and achieve market success.

Do you need help with any aspect of your digital transformation journey or simply might have an opinion to offer on the article above? Feel free to connect for a quick chat!


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