While our world is changing faster than ever, there is one thing that is certain: the future will be digital. In an Accenture survey, nearly 52% of respondents said that technology is deeply ingrained in their lives and a McKinsey survey uncovered that a whopping 92% of companies understood that their practices would be changed as a result of digitalisation. Digital technologies are literally changing the way we work, play and live.
While the COVID-19 virus is a humanitarian crisis, it has also been the driver of many social, political and economic changes. One of the changes being the acceleration of digital transformation in organisations. In fact, the crisis is showing just how crucial digital technologies are to the longevity of organisations. If it were not for technologies such as cloud-based sharing software and computers, organisations would not have been able to continue their operations remotely. Subsequently, organisations are starting to figure out how they can continue leveraging digital technologies to improve their processes and create more value.
Digital transformation is not about doing things faster. It is about understanding the capabilities of the technologies and how your business processes can be adapted to integrate them.
However, there are many organisations that are slowing down processes and making cuts in a bid to reduce their losses and ride out the crisis. When organisations do that, they are only focused on the short-term and are unprepared for a completely different world once the crisis is over. Research into company performance after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis showed that the companies who were proactive and made long-term decisions performed better and survived longer.
With digital technologies being one of the catalysts for changing values, it stands to reason that companies that accelerate their digital transformation will be able to tide through the COVID-19 crisis. Not only does digital transformation streamline internal processes and operations, but it also helps to create more value for customers. Digital technologies enable better products, better services and even better experiences. Now is the time to bring your organisation's digital initiatives out of the experimentation phase and into the application phase.
Of course, it is normal to feel apprehensive about instituting new, and drastic, changes into your organisation. If organisations want their digital transformation to be successful, they should ask themselves these 3 questions
1. Do we understand what value our digital transformation will bring and do we have a roadmap detailing how we will get there?
While many companies understand the importance of digital transformation, their digital initiatives are often disjointed and there is no coherent structure to them. This results in certain initiatives being more successful than others, while some just fail outright. In fact, a 2018 study done by Harvard Business Review revealed that $900 billion, out of the $1.3 trillion spent on digital transformation, was wasted because organisations' digital initiatives failed to meet their targets. As a result, a robust digital strategy needs to be created and its measures and objectives need to be clearly outlined. This is help keep organisations on the right track.
2. Are the changes caused by digital transformation sustainable for our organisation?
When making any changes to business processes and operations, it is vital to ensure the longevity of such changes. Digital transformation may have sped up many internal and external processes but there is always a chance that certain technologies may not be suitable. Additionally, organisations should not just engage in digital transformation just to help them tide through the crisis and abandon them once the crisis is over. Doing that will not be feasible for an organisation. When figuring out which type of digital technologies to implement, organisations should evaluate their sustainability and make sure that the company does not revert back to its traditional methods once the situation improves. This will ensure that the company continues thriving long after the situation improves.
3. What are the skills and talents need to drive digital transformation in our organisation?
Implementing digital technologies also requires the human touch, because it will be the employees who will be utilising them. As a result, organisations should also invest in talent management and training to ensure that digital transformation will be successful. Organisations should do 2 things. First, they should identify the key skills and talents needed to operate and implement digital technologies successfully. Secondly, they will need to identify the type of employees who will have the required skills and talents. Subsequently, they can choose to hire people accordingly or even evaluate their current pool of employees and identify those who can benefit from training. When the employees are equipped with the right tools and skills, they will be able to drive digital transformation and ensure its success.
In today’s era of volatility, there is no other way but to re-invent. the only sustainable advantage you can have over others is agility, that’s it. Because nothing else is sustainable, everything else you create, somebody else will replicate. - Jeff Bezos
With the world being so volatile, the one thing that organisations can do is to continuously evolve and adapt to their surroundings. Which is why organisations should view digital transformation as a never-ending process. There will always be room for improvement and innovation. The best thing an organisation can do is to adopt a growth mindset and embrace challenges as it comes their way.