Digital Transformation Begins with Company Culture

September 16, 2019

Search the key words, digital transformation, and you’re bound to come up with hundreds of articles and insights. The fact is, digital transformation is on every company’s priority list. But as I mentioned in a recent blog post for Forbes, what truly drives a culture of digital transformation requires something less tangible than software, artificial intelligence or other innovative technologies. It really revolves around a shared, customer-centric mindset that permeates from a company’s leadership – a company culture that embraces change, and a willingness to take carefully controlled risk.

Among the statistics I shared in the article, there is one that clearly supports this view. According to a McKinsey report, one third of key decision makers state that culture is the most significant barrier to digital effectiveness followed by a lack of understanding of digital trends (25%). Further, a joint analysis from MIT Sloan and Deloitte reveals that companies failing to transform digitally generally fell short of their expectations because they “didn’t change mindsets and processes or build cultures that fostered change.”

Despite the complexity and techie-“ness” of digital transformation, it really boils down to corporate culture. It essentially revolves around the following three requirements in order to be successful:

  • It must begin at the top. An organization must have leadership alignment in order to create the cultural shift required to truly become data-driven. This means leaders should not only approve digital transformation initiatives, but become active participants in them.
  • It needs a designated internal team. It’s important to assign a specific team dedicated to the task and clearly communicate who is on this team to the entire organization. It’s important to not only focus on those people with specific technical skills, but also employees who understand the overall corporate goals and business challenges and how to best roll out change to the organization.
  • The customer must be the key focus. Nothing drives a culture of digital disruption more than the customer. Customers increasingly expect companies to respond swiftly to their needs and understand their specific business and how it ticks. Today it’s understood that the best way to accomplish these mandates is through digitalization — it’s the fastest and surest route to success.

Digital transformation is not always easy, nor does it happen overnight, but companies that adopt the right mind-set and embrace change enterprise-wide will find that the efforts are not only well- worth it, but a prerequisite to today’s business success.

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