The concept of digital transformation is comprehensive and it would be interesting to start explaining it in parts. Let’s start with the word digital. What is the meaning of this word? I will start to interpret it using concepts that have no meaning with it. Digital does not mean creating a website, tweets, videos on youtube, posts on social media, not even the use of a specific technology.
The word digital should be understood as a synonym that describes how quickly technology adoption is being absorbed by people and businesses. This has put many organizations under pressure on the global stage and demanding changes in the business model. While some industries see the signs, some do not.
We have been seeing two types of organizations: those that are just being digital and those that are digital innovators. And yes, digital innovators are winning! Organizations such as Amazon, Uber, SpaceX, among others, break paradigms and accelerate the pace of growth through the adoption of new technologies. The big mistake that has been noticed is that many organizations digitalize existing services and assign the name “digital transformation” to this action. It’s wrong. Digital transformation is a strategic and planned journey for the redefinition of an organization. It begins with the training of teams with techniques that allow fast strategic responses and a new cultural stance focused on innovation. Nor is it the simple adoption of a technology in the environment, but the creation of a new business that can use emerging technologies such as engines. In today’s scenario, it is necessary for companies to understand the changes in behavior and customer’s expectations. Mobile devices dominate the total time spent online and both customers and competitors are online, searching for services, reading emails, browsing or buying products.
The main reasons for the acceleration of digital transformation are:
1) Technology continues to evolve at an exponential rate.
2) The high availability of useful data of processes and people.
The sum of the above statements should be interpreted as a very positive result: organizations that use technology to extract data information, either from their customers or from their production process, will be the most competitive.
What makes digital transformation different today is the data. And not just historical data, but real-time data about customers and competitors, the production chain and the market. Having the data in hand and knowing how to use it makes critical decisions random or dubious opinion-proof, as well as bringing intelligent strategic alternatives. In other words, it helps an organization to take decisions that lead to innovative solutions and to success. Small and medium-sized companies also become competitive through the use of low-cost tools. Many organizations have transformed their processes and business models to improve the experience and relationship with the consumer. The key to a digital transformation is data that needs to be acquired efficiently, safely, and properly stored. They must go through analytical tools and then transformed into decisive information through applications.
What are the key competences to apply and maintain this transformation? What is the mindset that an organization’s leaders and teams need to pursue in order to succeed?
Software development, data analysis and security
The specific skills each organization requires depends on the area of expertise. However, in this context we see that any digital transformation implies a high volume of data, that is, a team with know-how in analyzing large-data and process data (big-data, data analytics) should be a priority.
Let’s think about the following context: imagine an organization that has an interest in implementing the Robot Process Automation (RPA) that uses robots to perform repetitive tasks of data acquisition and insertion in databases, portals, applications, etc. Such a project requires a review of the database infrastructure. Competence will be required with respect to database management, whether with development, maintenance and administration of the database. It will also require a team of analysts to extract information that contributes to decision making. As an example, RPA efficiency can be improved with the inputs generated, improving process efficiency through fault identification and cost savings. They can also identify bottlenecks and manual points that can be automated. Skills with software and web are also essential to ensure the long-lasting digital transformation. Having a skilled team or hiring third parties that are incorporated into the company are options to meet that need.
We must not forget that keeping all this information safe is part of that picture. Complying with current legislation and ensuring that internal and customer data are protected is paramount.
Creativity and continuous learning
We should not underestimate the importance of man in this world undergoing digital transformation. Efficient communication and analytical reasoning are key to generating insights within the organization to promote change. Process automation should not eliminate collaborators from the work environment, but to upgrade the knowledge and skills of these people. In the previous example, RPA will eliminate people from manual stations. Leaders must encourage and provide opportunities for these employees with higher value-added tasks. It is up to employees to find ways to learn new tools and focus on high-level tasks. New hirings should consider people with the ability to diversify tasks and also to overcome fast changes in the work environment. One concept used in this context is learnability, in which there is the desire of the collaborator to be always learning and improving his abilities to remain employed. Still in the RPA case, new employees could be trained to install the RPA system, as well as take a step forward and learn new techniques that promote or improve the system.
Spread knowledge throughout the organization
As digital transformation takes place in a company, all employees need to have minimal knowledge of the tools to take advantage of them. However, most organizations are only aware of basic navigation and document generation tools. The company must provide training for the entire team and ensure that new employees also receive the same knowledge, making the company error-proof over time.
Collaboration between different teams in the organization
Digital transformation requires leaders to collaborate with each other, but that must be beyond the managerial level. An EY study shows that 70% of digitally mature companies share teams for task execution. In the concept era of agile projects and distributed teams, collaboration between teams is essential to meet market demand. Disruptive technologies have rapidly redefined the role of technical positions and managements and forcing the sharing of knowledge and skills between teams.
Digital transformation can change an organization’s corporate strategy and business model. It has influenced the way brands make business. It represents a great opportunity for leaders to bring new positions and skills to the business. New skills and competencies must emerge from both leaders and technical teams, with new mindsets, effective communication, and a focus on innovation. Collaboration between teams should increase through sharing of information to support the rapid change of the external scenario.