Customer Journeys

When Digital Transformation Feels Like Moving a Mountain…

In a 2013 study by Capgemini in partnership with MIT, 78% of respondents said, “Digital Transformation will be critical to their organization within the next two years.” One can safely say that digital has become mainstream. More alarmingly, in the realm of flock mentality, 81% believe that digital will “give their company a competitive advantage.” What is equally clear is that only a portion of the companies will succeed in materializing that advantage.

The Mountain of Digital
Faced with the opportunities and myriad options, leadership teams everywhere are scrambling to tackle just how they plan to go about transforming themselves to benefit from digital. For many companies, taking full stock of what it can encompass, digital has become a mountain to scale by ill-equipped leaders. But, which path to choose?

Digital has impacted not just all industries, but all metiers within each company. The problem with saying that digital is a strategic initiative (or words to that effect) is that it can become tantamount to saying, let’s just get better at giving what our customers want. In other words, digital is only at the service of the company’s overall strategy.

Between the onslaught of new tools and platforms and the multitude of new acronyms and foreign concepts, it is very easy to become disoriented. The size of the task can create an enormous disturbance because the “digital transformation project” is inevitably done in addition to doing ongoing business.

Impact on Business—How to Unlearn and Rewire
As companies tackle the digital question, the challenge inevitably becomes one of organization and culture around one central question:

To what extent are we prepared to render an excellent customer experience?

There are questions of process and infrastructure that are absolutely fundamental to the equation. However, leadership teams need not to take refuge behind substantially rational questions and to focus first and foremost on the people, their mindset and behaviors. The need is to uncover the “old” habits that must be broken or “unlearned” as Jack Uldrich, Chief Unlearning Officer at The School of Unlearning, would say.  

Revisiting the Budget
One of the areas in an organization where tradition runs thick is in the finance department. In order to “fit in” digital into the work flow and embed in the organization, there is an almost desperate need to make strategic choices that help free up time and resources to make the company more agile and able to on-board the new tools, platforms and processes. For example, the budget-setting methodology should be sharply revisited to avoid a Pavlovian habit of “anniversarying” previous year promotions. Rather than adding or reducing by 0.1-1.0 points each line on a P&L, what is the most appropriate allocation that would accommodate a more customer-centric and agile organization?

The Organization and its Organigram
Among the most important areas to revisit—undo to redo—is the way the company is organized. At first, for companies with low levels of digital maturity, there is a natural tendency to “name” someone as responsible for digital. However, the issue is that one person cannot be held accountable for digital. Aside from the impossibility of understanding the implications of digital at the operational level for every function or staying atop of all that is happening in digital and new technology around the world, digital—and learning—is a layer that needs to be added into all parts of the business. It is thus the responsibility of all parties in the business to identify, own and embed digital themselves.

Human Resources—The Right People
People talk about digital transformation and change management in the same breath. The issue is that, in this context, change management sounds like a project. Part of any attempt to “digitalize” one’s business means ensuring that the right people are in place or, at least, part of the network. In my experience, if a company does not do a satisfactory audit upfront, there is a much greater likelihood of failure or, at least, ineffectiveness. Having the right people is one part of it; having the right attitude is actually the major part of it. One cannot leave behind in the process aligning the HR policies and programs, with adapted goals and objectives, supporting initiatives as well as appropriate compensation.

The Right Why is the Biggest Motivation Tool
Riding high above the digital transformation process and the motivation to tackle “the digital mountain” is making sure that the organization is aligned behind a strong and shared purpose. At the very minimum, this should involve satisfying the customer in a comprehensive manner. At its best, it involves feeling that, as a group, you can make a material difference, not just to the bottom line, but also to all your stakeholders. Finding purpose in the digital transformation can become the true golden opportunity.

About the Author:

Minter Dial, President of The Myndset Company, is a professional speaker & consultant specialized in brand and digital strategy, with blue chip international companies, such as Samsung, Kering, Rémy Cointreau, Total and Orange. Prior to the Myndset, Minter led a 16-year international career with the L'Oréal Group. In his last post with L'Oréal, Minter was a member of the worldwide Executive Committee of the Professional Products Division, responsible for Business Development, Education, e-Business and Communication.  Previously, Minter was Managing Director of the Canadian PPD subsidiary and, before that, he was General Manager Worldwide of Redken, 5th Ave NYC.  Minter is author of the “New marketing of the 5E’s” (2011) and co-wrote ”The Brand University” (2010) and “The Sales Organization of the Future” (2013) with Eric Mellet. You can find Minter on Twitter @mdial.

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