Not All Digital Transformations Need To Be Disruptive

Not All Digital Transformations Need To Be Disruptive

David Banger (main photo) is an adjunct professor, digital advisor and founder of CHANGE lead | Practical Digital. He’s also the author of Digital Is Everyone’s Business | A guide to transition. In his latest post for B&T, the goodly prof argues there’s plenty to learn from other brand’s digital transformations…

The breadth of technology that is or will soon be within many organisations will require a new approach. What are the key factors an organisation needs to consider for the digital future?

The first is customer intimacy, and the other is integration and scale, they are potentially dichotomies; however, within an exceptional digital organisation, they are not. A frequent and possibly over talked of digital example is Uber.  Many organisations want to strive to be like Uber or other technology X organisations.

Uber exemplifies the above two factors. Uber has achieved; closeness to their customer through location and previous trip data, they also know what type of customer you are by the rating the driver applies. They have achieved scale through a digital ecosystem that has integrated the supply chain, a driver, car, location and passenger. Much of this is automated. Uber and other X’s continued to be studied by mainstream, traditional organisations as they consider how they could be their industries disruptor.

In many cases, it is unlikely that they will be their industries disruptor.

Organisations will change; they need to evolve; however, potentially not everything will be disrupted. Further, traditional organisations are not operating at their inception when business was simple, and there was no legacy within the organisation. Legacies contribute to lethargy and erode the initial urgency of a younger business. Also, many people within these organisation are fatigued with the talk of disruptors. The disruption hype and effort within the organisation in many instances has been attempted. Remember that start-up endeavour or organisational wide Agile initiative, what did they commercially achieve?

Despite this, statements are still being made by leaders or those with influence within an organisation, and these are often whispered, mumbled and repeated by others; we need to be more like a disruptor! However, are we sure about this? What is feasible and reasonably achievable?

Here is a hint, maybe you don’t need to be the disruptor.

What if all your competitors are focussed on being the disruptor? What is there or your likelihood of success? How many start-ups fail? Lot’s! Often venture capital will not be made available to those who have not failed and failed multiple times. Plus, many digital transformations fail, McKinsey research indicates 84 per cent. If start-ups fail and transformations fail what could be an alternative?

What if an organisation took an approach of practically segmenting their focus and effort with technology? With an obsession on the customer combined with consistent sustained effort overtime, there will be incremential shifts, the organisation will evolve.

Not all technology is the same; there are three possible purposes of technology within an organisation and that offer different possibilities.

Information Technology; the traditional IT department is consisting of infrastructure, network, applications, data and security. The IT is to evolve to support the incremental shift. Operational Technology; helps a business perform better by automating manual activities, i.e. cleaning of a floor in a shopping centre. Operational Technology is very common in manufacturing. Customer Technology; generally, enabled by a mobile device and application, however, is expected to evolve to an experience. An example is; near field communication technology recognising your device and prompting something that you are interested in is within proximity.

The innovation within an organisation may be to initially identify and focus on the emerging options of each technology purpose. Rather than wanting to be the next BIG disruptor, seek to shift the capabilities of your organisation with a structured assessment of Information, Operational and Customer Technology. Then aim to iterate on their offerings regularly.

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David Banger

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