Digital beyond technology

Written by Mike Wilkinson, Senior Consultant, North highland

Your journey to become a Digital company does not start and end with technology

Everyone thinks it’s a magic bullet – buy the newest, shiniest tech, throw it on a desk and it will make you better at your job.  The only time this has ever been proven true was when an iPhone was put in my hand instead of a Blackberry and that was because it was intuitive and had a touch screen.  No one denies it, Apple got it right.  They changed a market, created new ones and vastly improved everyone’s digital lives.  An impressive feat to achieve with a product that fits in the palm of your hand.

How does this translate into Digital Transformation of large companies?  It doesn’t translate exactly, but the pithy throwaway paragraph kept you reading.  However, time and time again I am seeing my clients making the same mistake, pick the shiny tech and hope the rest will sort itself out, they assume that people will adopt the new tech, that it will revolutionise everything, break down barriers that have existed in the organisation for years, even generations and more importantly be viewed as the biggest success in the company’s history.

Not once have I heard “Thank god for *insert shiny new tech*, it worked first time and solved all my problems”, I don’t ever expect to hear it.  An instructional video on the basic concepts of a bit of software isn’t good enough, we assume that employees will change their ways of working to suit the new tech without any intentional change effort.  In order to truly get the best out of new tech (both hardware and software), we must invest time and effort into changing the way people work with that tech, proving to them that there is value in using X product over Y (look at Google over Exchange for example), prove that it’s useful and the battle is almost won.   If we can then build technology based on dialogue with real users so it’s more intuitive to them, rather than the designers, starting small with a simple MVP that begins to get users on the change journey then building new features with them, it will ease the path to adoption.

Why not start to change the way they work full stop.  This is much more valuable than spending all that money on new technology that doesn’t get adopted and your programme gets labelled a failure, maybe focussing on the experience that your employees have, the reason you hired them in the first place – to serve your customers or citizens, maybe going back to the root of your company’s existence to understand your values and drivers, that is worth investing more time and effort in.

If you empower your employees to make the right decisions, help them start on the journey to Digital and Social empowerment in the office through transforming your culture into one that is ruthlessly customer focussed, innovative, open and transparent it will help you become more dynamic, collaborative and disruptive.  Do that and you won’t have to constantly run change programmes to land major changes, doing this will help foster sustainable digital transformation in your company.

Reminds me of another company who became ruthlessly customer focussed, designing products based on the user need, focussing all their energy on developing that culture of innovation and creativity… Maybe not a pithy throwaway paragraph after all…

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