Digital transformation pretend? You are not alone
Fake Digital Transformation
Lately, I had several high-level conversations on technology and digital transformation. But among all these C-suites chats, two always stand out from the rest: the first one, was a research interview on the #theBlur, and I was caught off guard when the CMO of a healthcare company told me: “I forbid my people using the words digital transformation: because people get caught on the digital part, they forget it is about change, and the customer is nowhere mentioned”. In that same research project, many interviewees had caved with a statement along the lines “Social media are important, but not digital transformation: it does not apply in our industry”. Whereas, I was truly inspired by his definition: for its simplicity and how accurate on the core levers of digital transformation.
On the other end, I was surprised – if not terrified – when the Chief Innovation Officer of a large corporate told me: “Digital transformation can easily deliver on short-term results. For example, we recently upgraded the connectivity of all employees in the company”. Surprised because the guy is too smart, too experienced in digital businesses and too sharp to believe his own words. But his words resonate well with other, less savvy executives in his company. For them digital transformation it’s a black box, which has something to do with IT. Not their business, just IT. They use, but they are deeply afraid of, big words like AI, AR, 3D printing. Yet they do not grasp the threats and the opportunities related to those technologies, and how they might impact their industry, their competitive landscape, and their own customers. They are not supposed to be the experts in the technology, but they cannot see how the tech impacts what they are experts of.
Very few execs understand that Digital Transformation is – first and foremost – a change process, which is empathic – in the design sense of the term, it focuses on the customer – and it’s technology-enabled. But many executives at the top don’t know that, are too afraid to ask, and they will use anything – even broadband – to check digital transformation off the list.
If you recognize yourself in this category, my message to all of you out there is:
“don’t be afraid, you are not alone!”
So what should you do?
- First and foremost, acknowledge that you have a problem. That does not mean that you need to shout it to the whole world; it’s enough to “convince yourself”. Commit yourself to change, improve, embrace the light.
- When was the last time you listened to and talked to your customers? Not negotiated with, just truly listened and talked to them? That’s usually a good, inspiring starting point.
- If you are too afraid to do it yourself, send your direct reports to conferences and congresses and ask them to report back. You will be surprised how many “no-nonsense” notions you can learn in one of these events. They will inspire your people, and fill your understanding gap. The objective is not for you to become a data scientist, or an AI programmer, nor a cloud expert. You need to be able to connect how these technologies open opportunities for your business and impact its strategic landscape. Get in touch for a list of events you/ your reports should attend.
- Check on-line a TED(x) speech on the subject. This is a list of TED talks on digital transformation, compiled on a SAP web property. It’s a starting point. If you can go to a TEDx event, even better sponsor one, so you have an excuse to go.
- Organize a co-creation workshop on the subject, to get ideas flowing, knowledge shared. A co-creation can help you generate insights, develop solutions, tap on external creativity. But, above all, it is an inspiration platform, that can deliver enough momentum for you and your organization to move ahead. We can help.
- Set-up your own internal TedX-like platform, inviting to speak your inspiring colleagues, thought leaders and customers, on one of the subjects of digital transformation, or the impact of AI in your industry. Your HR will be very thankful and you will have promoted a culture of innovation, which is not a small step these days. Ralph Talmont can set this up for you.
- Stay Away from those who talk about technology, because progress is unstoppable. No tech push will solve your problem. No turn-key solutions will help you personally.
- Follow the ones who can explain the consumer and customer insights behind technological adoption in your industry. The tech-enabled disruption is about eco-systems, not tech for tech.
- Hire Digital Transformation leaders who are not afraid of daring you. Then ask them what you should be doing; do not tell them what you think they should be doing.
- Walk the talk: no investment, no digital. In the era and age of Open Innovation, I am sure you can find the right partner.
- Forget the checklist: getting a useless app out-there might calm the investors and board in the short term, but it’s going to cost you much more in the medium/ longer term.
- Accomplishing Big Data means that you have a clear business model for your analytics. Short of that, you are just spending money on storage and cloud.
- Artificial Intelligence is not coming after your job. And the best way to approach AI is to start small (Example from healthcare).
- Do you have designers or design thinkers in your organization? If yes, do spend time with them. If not, hire some talented one
- Ralph Talmont has developed a fantastic training program to support sensemaking in tech. Ask us about that.
In conclusion: faking digital transformation is possible in the short term, but dangerous beyond that. We propose 15 ideas to get started on the journey. Some of those are easy and effortless. Some others, more challenging and expensive. Take your pick!