The term, ‘digital transformation’ has taken on new meaning in recent weeks. And as individuals around the world switch to digitally-based home and work lives as a result of quarantines, organisations are also being forced to re-consider what it actually means for them.
However, principal and co-founder of digital consultancy Sparrow Advisors, Ana Milicevic, is fearful that many businesses have lost sight of what transformation really is.
Speaking at Tempemail’s Digital Transformation Festival, Milicevic said the concept is: “much less about one piece of technology or another, and more about the actual business process and the people changes that need to happen within an organisation.”
She added: “It’s easy to sign up for a piece of technology, but no one really wants to roll their sleeves up and sign up for re-designing how an organisation actually works.”
“When we’re using the term ‘digital transformation’, we’re actually doing ourselves a bit of a disservice because of the amount of work that’s truly required.”
She expressed that when organisations are thinking about their desire to digitally transform, they ought to question their long-term intentions.
“A better term might be ‘modernisation,’ because that’s what we’re really looking for. I think that term… implies that it’s a continuous process and you want to be the most modern, most tech-savvy and most forward-thinking company that you can be.”
Making a success of ‘modernisation’
When considering what successful digital transformation — or indeed ‘modernisation’ — might look like, Milicevic suggested that: “You can usually see a better kind of flow of communication within an organisation, and people are more stoked about the work that they’re doing and it makes more sense.
“You’ll also know if it goes wrong,” she said, “because you’ll see it in your people’s behaviour. If you’re a media company, for example, and your own people aren’t watching your content then something is probably wrong.”
Although Milicevic also conceded that other good signs and indicators of digital transformation would reflect in revenue and new business lines being opened, “but that’s probably 12 to 18 months down the line.”
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses and organisations around the world have been forced to digitally transform rapidly, as quarantines and lockdowns have forced workers, clients and customers alike into the safety of their homes.
Crucially, said Milicevic, “You have to ask who’s really driving transformation in your organisation. Is it the chief executive, the chief technology officer or Covid-19? I think for a lot of people at the moment it’s the third option.
She heeded that “[Transformation] is not a one time thing, it’s not like you can just sign up for the project this quarter and book, you’re a digitally transformed, modern organization. It’s something you need to do and learn constantly.”
She also suggested that in the long term, it will be better for agencies and brands “to think of it as an on-going challenge, rather than something that can be ticked off in a particular quarter or in a, in a given year.”
She continued: “It’s really hard to be good at executing in the current world and build a new world at the same time…it’s a real challenge and that’s something that I think every company needs to try to figure out on their own.”
“But, I think a lot of companies are going to come out of this wanting to put more structure around their digital transformation efforts and really thinking through what they should be focusing on and so I’m excited for that.”
You can listen to the episode in full here and view more content from Tempemail’s Digital Transformation Festival here.