During the last decade, we have witnessed a technological revolution that has impacted all areas of our lives. 

We all appreciate technology and, nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to live without it. We apply our lives so fast to new inventions because they bring along new comforts. Technology offers new ways to do normal things differently, usually better, much faster with less hassle, and is a much affordable rate. 


Is digital transformation for everyone?


Digital transformation is a concept we hear a lot about; it covers all the changes that will occur in both companies and economies as they adapt and obtain benefits with the integration of new technologies. Recently, we have even been also writing about the State of digital transformation and where we are in Europe“.


The digital transformation is changing everything: a business’ organization, communication models, sales channels, relationships with clients and stakeholders, training, finance, and so much more. We get used to technology in many different ways and that affects not just our private lives but our daily working life, maybe to an even bigger extent.


When companies and thought leaders are talking about “going digital”, it always sounds like a step in the right direction. Whole industries are rapidly changing due to new inventions, techniques and machines and it is we who need to make a choice and identify the problems that require a solution.  


How companies adopt


But what does it actually take to become digital? Along with a computer, the latest IT system, a server, and a network, what else does a transforming company need? 


Many organizations use the term “digital” to mean the implementation of new technology — whether it’s mobile, cloud, RPA or cognitive — but it’s really the integration of technology with a shift and change in mindset.


In other words, it requires a company to rethink how they operate.


Traditional businesses practices have been influenced through new forms of management and administrations have evolved to become more agile. But we must face the fact that established business models are not working the same way they did before. We have to find a different way to engage with employees and customers. 


As all companies increasingly become “technology companies,” the roles of the CIO and the IT department are more important than ever. However, the true success of a digital transformation is an enterprise-wide, cross-functional endeavour throughout the entire company.


What about the “WHY?”


According to an article by Charlene Li, we focus too much on the  “what” and the “how” in terms of digital transformation. “What” can be seen as the latest trends and business models you need to know (platforms, virtual reality, 3D printing, etc.) And “how” do you use digital tools to engage with customers and employee, “how” do you lead a digital transformation process? 


We forget the “why.” Without the “why,” people involved in these projects will never engage, or they may see the potential but other priorities eclipse that early enthusiasm and the project falls to the wayside.


Change or transformation is about people


This leads us the most important part of digital transformation: Your people


Picture this: You covered the tech part, identified the “why” and you have the strategy in place?  GREAT! But did you include your people?


Success at large-scale transformation demands more than the best strategic and tactical plans, the traditional focus of senior executives and their advisers. It requires as well a clear understanding of the human side. Any transformation will also create issues for the people wrapped up in the change.


New leaders will be asked to step up, jobs will be changed, and new skills and capabilities must be developed. In addition, to address the issue of digitalization in the company, we must talk about a new type of business manager: a leader with the digital mindset.


To encourage a change in mindset from traditional to digital, Gartner (as the world’s leading research and advisory company) has developed a four-step plan to instigate mindset change.

1. Vision

Create a compelling vision that can be shared as a story to inspire and motivate a desire for the change (which brings us back to the “why”)

2. Define

Define the key behavioural attributes that reflect the changed mindset.

3. Implement

Human resources should be brought into the process to monitor performance and assess how workers are responding to digital changes. HR should also be involved in assessing the viability of the given metrics.

4. Measure, Monitor and Wait

Business leaders should not expect immediate results. Change takes time.


My conclusion?

The bottom line is that many organizations forget to address the transformation needed to change the mindset of their workers. Without this, digital transformation strategies and projects without corresponding cultural changes are most likely to fail.