Insights for Digital Transformation

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Take Note: Digital transformation is not just all roses.

More than four in every ten organizations have started implementing their own digital transformation. However, they are not focusing on digital-first approaches for every part of their businesses. Close to a fifth, or 19 percent of these companies, are already integrating technologies and processes, while another 18 percent are already implementing their digital plans. Yet, less than a tenth, or seven percent have finished with their digital transformation and are now just maintaining it.

Sometimes, it helps to know what the experts are thinking. And when we say experts, we mean the good guys at the MIT Sloan Management Review.

Here are their top 5 insights.

1. Your focus should be on the business, not the technology.

Technology can change at a very fast pace. In fact, it is expected that microchip-processing power will double every two years. Businesses, however, are not that agile. George Westerman put this observation forward.

You can create technology systems according to spec. Software and hardware can be programmed to do what you want it to do. But humans are not so inclined. In fact, management can even resist change and may prove to be more difficult to control.

For digital transformation to be easier, you should be able to change your vision in a way that your employees can get behind it. You should also be cleaning up, if not doing away with, legacy systems. You should also change how your employees collaborate within your business.

2. Change the mindset your employees and leadership have about digital transformation.

Your managers might not have the skills necessary to keep up with technology. But that should not be a problem at all. You can teach and train them the tech skills they need. However, you might have problems when they do not have the right mindset.

Douglas Ready writes that only one in every 10, or 12 percent, of companies, think that their leaders have the right mindset. A lower percentage, at 9 percent, thinks that their leaders have the skills necessary to succeed in a digital economy.

When you are looking to implement a digital transformation, you should not only upgrade your leadership’s technical skills, you should also work on changing mindsets. You should ensure that you go beyond just talking about digital transformation and talking about agile systems. You should also include the culture of the organization as a whole.

Moreover, you should invest in attracting and keeping high-value talent. High-value employees often want the company to recognize and appreciate their talents and contributions. They also want to work with leaders who can teach and allow them to grow. These employees are looking to work for companies that can help change the world for the better.

Lastly, you should be aware of all of your strengths and weaknesses as an organization, this way, if you wave any blind spots, you can identify and even know how to plug it.

3. Leave your competitors in the dust by having a digitally savvy board of directors.

According to researchers at MIT Sloan Management Review, having a digitally savvy board of directors can give you a larger bottom line. Companies should have directors who understand the technology and how it impacts your business. Why? Because these businesses often outperform others.

For instance, they found that close to one in every four companies that earn at least $1 billion have digitally savvy boards. These companies also outperformed their competitors and other businesses on several key metrics, such as market cap growth, return on assets, and revenue growth.

4. Look to customers if you want new ideas on digital innovation.

In the old days, businesses are the ones who bring new products in the market, as well as lead with creating innovations. Now, you can easily look to your consumers for digital innovation. This situation is especially true if the current market is not meeting their needs.

MIT Sloan researchers have written that in a healthcare setting, for instance, patients have been coming up with their own devices to help them deal with their conditions. Often, they do not have the backing of companies that have the experience and know-how in producing and selling medical products. These innovations often allow patients to have access to medical devices that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

For instance, Dana Lewis, along with a software engineer and some patients with type I diabetes, teamed up and developed an artificial pancreas. This device will monitor your blood sugar levels and give you the right dose of insulin when necessary. They were able to do this with computer code and off-the-shelf hardware. They connected these with commercial glucose monitors and insulin pumps.

Admittedly, this innovation was to help Lewis deal with her low blood sugar levels. It worked so well that the team made their software open source, and it is now helping thousands of people with diabetes monitor, improve, and manage their blood sugar.

Surprisingly, this device might be very helpful but until Lewis and the team got together, the market did not offer this kind of technology.

5. Digital transformation is not just all roses.

With all the technologies we have right now, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the convenience they offer. Smart TV that knows what you watch, a smart refrigerator that can add things to your grocery list or tell you when the food you store in it will go bad. Or how about an air conditioner that you can turn on and off even when you are not home.

These conveniences, however, are not all good. They do have their downsides. Each smart device you own is a vulnerability. These smart appliances can put your privacy, safety, and personal information at risk. If you manufacture these intelligent devices, then you should ensure that you have mitigated these risks before you remain competitive.

The bad news is that the more these smart devices become more popular, the more hackers would be motivated to hack them. As if that is not enough bad news, a highly publicized hacking into a smart TV or other similar devices will mean have a hard time getting to market. People will shun it and will not buy a smart device that has been compromised before.

Photo courtesy of Dominic Smith (Flickr).

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