Digital transformation begins with you (and your company culture)

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Accepting the reality, potential, and power of digital transformation is all well and good, but without advocating and committing to truly supporting change and innovation within your organization, youre not going to get very far. Its a matter that boils down to culture.

While participating in anepisode of SAPs Coffee Break with Game-Changers, Deloittes Chief Inclusion Officer Beth Thiebault shared this bit of wisdom: You can have the best strategy, but if the underlying culture isn’t supportive, it doesn’t matter how good the strategy is. Hurts to hear, but many companies need this kind of wake up call. Old habits die hard and until they do, companies are seriously hindering themselves from reaching their full potential.

Todays digital tools are capable of extraordinary things, if we only let them into our company cultures. Were faced with what often feels like a limitless realm of knowledge and possibility; big data gives us more information than ever before, marketing automation is making it easier than ever to target who we want (when they want), and knowledge networks make collaboration among departments and colleagues, near and far, much more productive and seamless than what weve grown accustomed to. But just because were used to something, doesnt make it good.

Sure, fully embracing digital takes some serious adjustment. Management may shift and roles and responsibilities might alter and get reallocated. Change is seldom simple, but in the end, this is the kind of change that will most definitely simplify systems and practices for your company and employees, ultimately leading to greater overall success.

You have to have the [kind of] culture that’s going to enable that strategy to become real in the marketplace, says Thiebault. Thats why its so crucial to advocate for true transformation within our organizations.

According to Alcons Director of Global Digital Marketing Julie Collins, putting the transformation into place is all about strategic communications and the idea of one-to-one, one-to-few, and one-to-many. Embarking on the move to digital at Alcon was a sometimes perilous journey, she says sure to be the case in any big company.

What happens in large organizations is that its not so easy, Collins continues. To move through organizational decision-making, to get alignment, and then ultimately to get to budgeting, you need a more robust and dynamic way to manage customer and ordering processes. There are differences in opinion as to how that might look like, how that gets done, and how that gets funded.

At the end of the day, Collins says that her key learning was in really taking the time to have the kind of one-on-one conversations (no matter how many times over) that start to drive a change in thinking, and ultimately in a companys overall culture which, if were being honest, is something most large organizations truly need.

Anastasia Dyakovskaya
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January 28, 2016
Anastasia Dyakovskaya

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