There’s not one but several digital transformations

If everybody’s talking about digital transformation, agreeing on a definition and knowing where to start is not easy. As a matter of fact talking about digital transformation is a little bit simplistic since there are several digital transformation and the challenge is to articulate them together.

The digital transformation of the society can be taken for granted. That’s the only one.

First, there’s the digital transformation of society. That’s what drives anything else. It’s about how the new behaviors we’ve developed in our personal lives. It’s about what, as consumers empowered by technology, we expect from businesses. It’s about a product economy turning into a service and experience economy. It’s about new approches to society, economy and the role people play into : sharing and and collaborative economy.

Even if not everybody is equally advanced, even if many gaps remain (and they have nothing to do with age), this transformation can be taken from granted. The train has left and nothing is going to stop it.

The C-Suite and the fear of uberization

Then there’s digital transformation as seen by the C-Suite. They’re wondering what will be the place of their business in a digitized society where values, expectations and the role of the consumer/citizen/stakeholder dramatically changed over the last decade. The C-Suite has many concerns : transformation/disappearance of their business, moves to make in the value chai, moving from a value chain to an experience chain, business model transformation, new offers to develop and old to kill, creation of new ecosystems.  And, to end,  how to transform internal organization and operations.

Business Unit and internal department managers “lost in transition”

Then comes the transformation of department, support functions et business lines. One of their concerns is to find a way to turn the C-Level plan into action and, in the worse case, to find a way to move forward on their own when they’re more aware of the urgency than the C-Suite. As for support functions, they need to transform themselves first to help the rest of the organization to transform. And, for everybody, it’s about rolling out a new model while having the old one still ar work and manage the transition in terms of operations models, revenue, talent management. They’re also in charge of changing management models. Their biggest issue : often a lack of means and the difficulties the C-Suite has to make sense of things, to share a purposeful vision beyond pontificating speeches.

The fourth is digital transformation from the employee perspective. You may think that have always mentioned people at the beginning of these post but that are two different matters. As a matter of fact, businesses are reacting to the external pressure put by the customer and their biggest fear is that employees don’t have the same Digital IQ as clients to achieve the digital move.

Digital people become digitally retarded employees

This is a wrong popular belief : employees are customers who walk through the office door. The average employee is as digital as the average customer. The point is to put them in the right context so they won’t leave their digital side in the cloakroom. Digital people become digitally retardedwhen they come to work and that’s the big issue. Businesses, leaders and managers are the ones to blame but there’s also a long change/acculturation program to drive at the employee level. Employees are also concerned about the evolution/obsolescence of their skills, they fear that robots will take their jobs, they wonder what the uberization of work means and if that’s then end of the traditional employment model.

To end I’d like to add a fifth one : the digital transformation of states and public authorities. First as “service providers” to citizen but it’s bigger than that. Everyday we see evidences that the legal frame should evolve to make the digization of businesses ans society easier. We need de redefine the legal frame of business, work, data etc.. We won’t be able to sustainably build tomorrow’s word with laws that date from the 50s and do nothing but adding complications and barriers. We also won’t be able to avoid questioning the eduction system, either in terms of content and methodologies.


When public authorities are a drag on digital transformation

Today the system still “produces” too many professionals that are not ready for the world and the jobs outside. Some will have to do with this handicap all their life and businesses still struggle to find enough digital talents. The future of work starts at school and people also need to acquire the required skills to thrive in a world where robots are a more and more credible alternative to human work. We also need to prepare for a world where revenue won’t be tied with work anymore but with activities.

Each of these transformations is a challenge by itself but the big deal is elsewhere. It lies in how to articulate all these transformations, align them and build synergies. That’s the reason why one should pay attention to who he talks about digital transformation with because the stake will change depending on the person.

When everybody see things his own way, nobody heads in the same direction.

Image Credit : Many by Maciej Czekajewski Via Shutterstock

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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