Digital culture must precede digital transformation

digital culture stanley dai unsplash

Digital culture is not quite what it looks like at face value. Digital culture is not defined as one where everyone lives on a digital platform 24/7. Sure there are certainly large pieces of activity that can be devoted to being on a digital platform, but this is not what makes for a digital culture.

The first definition might define a consumers digital culture. One filled with selfies; the near-constant voyeurism of social media and an opinion on everything. But this is not the definition of a digital culture within your business.

When we look at the conundrum that is digital transformation and the customer experience, these are all being facilitated by inherently more digital processes and artefacts, but it is not these platforms and tools that ultimately make or break the success of digital transformation within your organisation.

The digital culture in your organisation is what makes or breaks your digital transformation initiatives.

Let’s define digital culture by looking at the tenets that make it up according to the BCG:

Digital culture focuses externally

Customer centricity is not just a buzzword. Digitally transformed businesses fixate on the customer experience, and thanks to the likes of Google, Apple and Amazon who have totally democratized technology consumers are expecting this level of centricity from every organisation.

This does not mean that your internal culture is not important, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Your organisations culture needs hyper-focus to make sure that it is able to deliver on a highly customer centric demand.

This digital culture element is the alignment of your business strategy and company values demonstrated externally. If your culture does not align to your strategy and values, then you don’t have a hope of being able to be hyper focussed on delivering above the clients expectations.

Action over planning in a digital culture

I am not advocating recklessness, but I am completely against any form of “analysis paralysis”. It is far better to get an MVP (minimum viable product) out into the market and iterate like crazy. This is the world of real-time DevOps. This is the world that understands that things change over time and that the best place to innovate and adjust plans is out in the real world.

A lot of the time we don’t know what we don’t know. By sitting behind the drawing board for too long trying to perfect each and every element, we lose touch with what the market really wants and needs because by the time we look up again things have moved on and someone else has launched their MVP before you.

A digital culture is one that understands that failure is an option. Failure is the place where we learn and where we improve. By embracing this and allowing for action to guide our wins and informing our losses. we are constantly delivering value to our customers.

We must be bold in our approach and take a step into the unknown not clinging to the vestiges of the past purely because it used to work.

Collaboration beats hierarchy

We are better together than we are apart. This is not just romantic poetry for a proposal; it is also a fundamental truth on the ways of working. When we collaborate we are able to bring many different points of view and paradigms to bear on a problem and solve it holistically.

No problems are one-dimensional; so why should our approach to problem-solving be?

I am categorically not saying that we should not have experts in certain fields working on and solving certain problems but when we come together with experts in different fields, we are able to do that much more.

In a digital culture it is this collaboration, this working for a common (often external) goal that truly binds a culture together and breeds success.

Moderation of digital culture

As every single organisation is different so is the degree to which each of the above varies per organisation. To truly enable long-term success from digital transformation the culture must first be digital. The components of the organisation must want to and be able to work together. There must be a greater purpose that everyone fixates on and there must be a hunger to move forward.

These are the basics that make sure digital transformation is felt across the organisation.

Culture / Brand / Strategy — when these are in harmony within your organisation, you have the foundations to carry out brand-led digital transformation that will resonate with your corporate culture and effectively achieve your business strategy.

Feature image: Stanley Dai via Unsplash



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