Digital Transformation : a long quest

monty-python-sacre-graal-02-gThe digital transformation is the current Holy Grail of business (also known as Enterprise 2.0, social business), but our leaders have the same problem as the Knights of King Arthur, where to seek and with which knights?

Holy Grail!
As you know, or not, the knights of King Arthur took time to understand the meaning of this quest, today business leaders also are a bit lost (if this analogy seems wrong, I remind you that the community roundtable is one of the most advanced think tank on this topic). The majority don’t understand the issues related to transformation digital, while there is a real vision to support, share, explain … The proof, is that most of them focus on the word « digital » (without necessarily understand the ins and outs, we’re not just talking about tools), while the important word is « transformation ». Digital is one of the causes of this transformation and at the same time a lever, but not an end or even a goal (especially since it’s not measured most of the time, if we consider it as such).
For practical purposes, two small reminders: people collaborates, not tools, and a company doesn’t go for a transformation to get its employees stick to a tool, but to adapt itself to a shifting world and being able to confront new challenges …. To help a little bit the quest of « our knights », here is a quick definition (it deserves to be refined) of the digital enterprise which can be defined around three dimensions:

  • Internal: process changes force to review the management and managerial models. They are redefining the nature of relationships between men and require new skills among employees and managers.
  • External: driven by external contacts (customers, prospects, shareholders, suppliers, candidates, …) and the rapid evolution of their behavior, especially on social media, the company should review in emergency modes its communication, distribution, marketing, its customer service, the way to manage their online reputation …
  • Business model: companies are increasingly facing new competitors that are pure players or companies coming from any other sector, adopting a new look, free from coercion, scrambling situations established and reshuffling cards. And at a pace that traditional players struggling to keep up. Uber for transport, trade Amazon, Google in many areas, think a networked society, the examples are infinite in all sectors, energy, telecommunications, transport, ….

How many divisions?
In its report on digital transformation, the New York Times explains that digital company profiles are ignored by the hierarchy. However, they are the ones who understand the current issues and new uses, with a different mindset… nothing better to prepare the digital transformation of the company. Rarely, people related to the problem of yesterday are the solution of tomorrow (there are exceptions, fortunately, but these persons are not in majority).
To restart our historical comparison Stalin said: « The Vatican, how many divisions? » Speaking of the Pope … Indeed, for Stalin if the Pope is a recognized figure, without any army, it does not allow him to really influence events. Chief digital officers who begin to appear in companies quickly find themselves in this position. Attached to the board, they have this position, a kind of moral magister on the subject as the Pope (if you chose the right profile, otherwise you’ll also have a trial for incompetence), but ultimately without troops, they can’t really act. Or they are attached to a department (com, marketing, IT) and are part of the trench warfare, each one suspected to defend its silo and without real taking on the whole organization.
Finally, if the speech of the companies incorporated this vocabulary of digital transformation, the overhaul of internal processes, business model for a breakthrough innovation and a true customer focus is still to come. In the end, instead of reading Chretien de Troyes or Stalin, the report of the New York Times should be read by all companies (not only those of the news industry) to understand hotspots link with the digital transformation of an organization.