Why Culture change is essential for Digital Transformation

Gone are the days, when companies used to decide a strategy and then execute it for the next five years as planned. Today a company’s life on Fortune 500 or S&P 500 is just 15 years.  Digital businesses like Uber and Airbnb did not exist before 2008 but now they are multi-billion dollar poster children for Digital Disruption.

Today due to digital every business has to change how it operates and interacts with their customers every day.  Long term strategies are no longer valid or sustainable and change is a constant feature.

“Culture” is a key determinant of a successful digital transformation.  We can change our technologies, our infrastructure, and our processes but without addressing the human element, lasting change will not happen.  Culture is the operating system of the organization. It’s like air; it’s there but you can’t necessarily see it!

It’s important for leaders to understand the business’s current culture to map the right solution and timeline that will work for that business.  No two organizational cultures are the same.  Executives underestimate the importance of culture in an era of digital.  Most cultures are risk averse at a time when taking risks is the most direct path to innovation.

But we have to remember that without the involvement, cooperation and feedback of the workforce, any digital transformation will struggle to maintain momentum.

Building an organizational culture for a successful adoption of digital technologies requires everyone in the organization – from leaders to front-line employees – to be prepared to work in an open and transparent way.  It’s hard for an organization to undergo digital transformation if the culture is one built around silos.  In cases like these, cultural change would need to be addressed before the transformation process could start to begin.

Culture leads the adoption of technology.  The ability to innovate depends on the impatience of the organizational culture.  Organizations have to build the culture and community, making the time for people to share experiences, test and learn what works, brainstorm and collaborate.

It takes time to develop a digital culture; the sooner a company acts, the more quickly it will be in a position to compete in this fast-paced, digitized, multichannel world.

Southwest Airlines for example, in operation for more than 40 years, brought in a culture change and empowered employees to go Digital and thereby better help customers.

Imagine how GE, which is more than 130 years old and operating in more than 175 countries, has a quest for cultural change to be a leader in Digital and the Industrial Internet of Things.

Coca Cola has reinvented itself with a culture change by focusing on digital natives while offering more than 100 different flavored drinks.

For Digital Transformation “Culture” is the top most enabler.  Without people, tools won’t make any difference!!

Read more by Sandeep Raut, here


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