How to become Digital – The 3 Ds of Digital Transformation, as in Literacy
2. Data Literacy
Data is gold, and a brave and wise storyteller. Just that you should know how to read them, and most importantly what to read, otherwise it will be a noisemaker at best, with a high risk of telling the wrong story or in a foreign language we never learnt.
We moved from a society that was not measuring enough, to one that is over measuring and reporting. Because we have so many channels and “showrooms”, oftentimes we give too much importance to vanity metrics, which frankly speaking can be artificially and accidentally produced and rarely walk anything to the bank.
This goes especially when used for decision-making. We don’t want our executives to base their decisions on intuition alone and even worse on emotions, we want to fuel them with the insights that can’t even be seen immediately by looking at the raw data. We want our departments to start driving on AI, but before we go there completely, we need the data, properly fetched and read and interpreted.
This is also vital to communicate and manage expectations and metrics for the initiative itself within the company, especially to other executives and shareholders, who might expect a direct ROI.
3. Design Thinking Literacy
“In the final analysis, therefore, we digitise information, we digitalise processes and roles that make up the operations of a business, and we digitally transform the business and its strategy. Each one is necessary but not sufficient for the next, and most importantly, digitisation and digitalisation are essentially about technology, but digital transformation is not. Digital transformation is about the customer.” — Jason Bloomberg
That means technology should be invisible, resting in the background, and enabling the experience to be completely seamless. This makes the talks about products and solutions between different departments revolve around more natural language with less technical terminology as a barrier: How to keep the customers engaged and satisfied — in other words: retain them.
Having said that, we need to shift our thinking process to engineer from the outside, hence our customers and what they expect. This is proving to be demanding at times, because they are already used to technology that works perfectly and that comes from companies with a well-structured, dedicated tech team. You’re competing for their attention with all those other companies. Or you can learn from that, right?
That’s where Design Thinking makes an entrance. It’s a creative approach to problems and challenges presented, and to be agile. What makes an approach creative when thinking in itself is supposed to be creative, you might rightfully ask. A purpose — the end-user the solution to be built is going to serve. Starting with the right mindset and goal, the rest is an iteration until it proves to be successful. Back to the learning opportunity, you can use the existing perfect technologies your customers are already relying on and loving, as a meter to know them and analyse their behaviour psychology better. This will shorten the iteration and help you be at the edge of customer experience, but of course you have to define what that means for your customers and business offering.
“You have got to start with the customer experience and work backward to technology.” — Steve Jobs, Apple’s WorldWide Developers Conference, May 1997
4. Bonus. Can I add an E too, please? As in for Emotions? Or Empathy?
Things are going to get ugly before they get beautiful.
People will put in a lot of effort and they won’t be able to see the results, yet. Maybe key people will leave the company altogether and you’re left with decisions and knowledge gaps to handle. Even if it’s successful, it can introduce new obstacles and complexities that were either not foreseen or not met with the same enthusiasm as the DX itself – oftentimes companies expect this to be the ultimate destination, but it’s rather a journey.
Moreover, if there are projects that involve a high risk and big investment, like domain-related or business-model changes, the stakes will get high. We know what boils in the boardrooms and rooms in general under such uncertainty.
There’s a lot of science needed to run such “experiments”, but it’s an art too. An art of managing emotions of all the stakeholders and communicating in an empathetic fashion respecting the place where everyone is coming from.
We have embraced the importance of compassion leadership to navigate the uncharted waters of the ever-changing new business-making and leading.
In this case, these leaders are in the field all the time between stakeholders and shareholders, who at different times might represent conflicting views and opinions. As one, you might have to give a great promising presentation to one party, when you’re just out of a heated discussion with another and know well which is temporal and what really affects and needs to be reported to the other.
I’m not even counting what you have left at home and what’s going on with your life, I’m only talking about the kind of drama you have here assuming you have nothing else going in your life — because you’ll know how to make it look like that. You’ll have to drive all your work towards the ultimate vision, one of paramount importance for the business: offer exceptional experience to your customers and generate revenue. It’s not easy at all, but it comes more naturally to some than others no matter how deeply they master the 3 Ds in question.
At times when the current business as usual is being challenged and jobs are being risked, we can agree that even though we cannot be fully prepared for an economic breakdown, we can start by thinking how our business can survive and thrive when we cannot rely completely on us being at our best, or even be physically there.
We were scared it would be AI to bring us these problems, but it’s actually the lack of thereof that is coming first.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a global challenge and not your business doing something wrong, and it needs the support of the whole ecosystem to bring the economy back on its feet even stronger than before. It found us unprepared, hence its Black Swan epithet. As we move forward, we can take this as a message that if we could operate under such distress, we have huge untapped opportunities to prosper, if we capitalise on the value we create as businesses, regardless of our size.
We all were small when we started, but it didn’t stop us from dreaming about doing something differently or better, Digital Transformation can help scale that dream and take it to whichever “screen” our customers best benefit from it.
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