There is a narrow path between IT and business digitalization. While some companies either spend few to no time in defining the difference and derive the impact, others don’t make any difference at all. Isn’t it frustrating, that a crisis is needed to change perspective? This terrifying situation we are all in, will be followed by another one, a different one as a crisis is always followed by another crisis. And yet it seems to be human, that while things are calm and obviously under control, we tend to ignore having a good look into what is going to happen. We could see what is coming, but we set our priorities differently.
My wife told me the other day, that this crisis works like a burning lens. All the gaps and weaknesses we managed to live with, are now in the spotlight, and there is no mercy. What an apposite comparison! And it fits perfectly in real life and in business.
Like the pothole, which could be easily managed, but due to other priorities it gets so big and deep, that it starts damaging cars and repairing means spending x times more than initially needed. Eventually the complete road has to be closed to get the repair done, what adds additional costs and complexity, which could have been avoided – with just a bit more providence. Others may call this strategy.
It is said that CoViD-19 achieved what CDOs and CIOs have been trying for ages. It boosted the digital transformation like nothing before. But look at the price companies are now paying. Unprepared people may be able to work from home, technically, but many are far away from turning this to the new normal. If anything, this crisis made very clear, that the digital transformation consists of at least digitization, digitalization and cultural readiness. It also shows very clearly what is possible, if a company has no choice to move accordingly. Imagine for a second, the pressure would be controlled, driven by the CEO as top priority and not being seen as trend or diverting event.
In many cultures people talk about the digital transformation. Funny to see that in English, there are two words which derive out of “digital transformation”: digitization and digitalization. It may look like this is bean counting, it is not. While digitization is more focusing on tools and moving from analog to digital, digitalization considers complete processes and business models. Digitization could be seen as a subcategory of digitalization.
In countless discussions, presentations and strategies I have seen and been, guess what people are aiming for when it comes to the digital transformation. Correct, digitization it is. It is way closer and tangible moving from a tool to another and comparing suppliers based on the specifications, features and functions. Calculating a Return on Invest is simpler, Key Performance Indicators often are in place already and just need to be updated. Sounds so easy, doesn’t it?
Seriously, if nobody asks the right questions, how shall business make a quantum jump and invent themselves? Everybody is asking for innovation and the next big thing, and yet discussions too often are soulless, full of empty phrases and hyped tech terms. Leaving the known and allegedly safe environment is a line only a few are willing to trespass. Standards are set for eternity.
Let’s not forget the cultural aspect when it comes to this digital transformation. Just because a headquarter, e.g. in Spain, decides that people are now good to be working from wherever they want, it does not mean, that the business in Japan is ready to follow this immediately. Culture is often underestimated, although it is so fundamental defining us, the individual.
I miss the visionaries, the dreamers and crazy minds, who are always 5 steps ahead, filling the pipeline of discussions and creativity with future minded, and challenging hypothesis. The ones, who are not satisfied with how things could work tomorrow but striving to make it happen in future. Without such visions, strategies are just the next chapter in the book of business.
It is up to you, whether you want to digitize the legacy or if you want to design the future.
I am not saying that conservative discussions are useless, absolutely not! It certainly depends on the industry you are in. They are essential and needed to come to decisions and switch mode from dreaming to doing. What I am asking is more diversity in the discussions, more provoking and questioning dialogues and boldness in scrutinizing the status quo.
So far, the Mission Vision, as I see it, widely is in status critical. If you read this and you think you are a unicorn, let others know what is on your mind.
“When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger, while the other represents opportunity.”
John F. Kennedy