Digital transformation – a cultural revolution

The development of digital technology has already brought most industries to the age of digital transformation. Many more are about to enter and in the end everyone will be affected. Technological breakthroughs allow industries to develop new and innovative service models, that in turn deliver a better customer experience and build access to new markets. However, they also expose industries to global competion and new entrants. [true for different parts of the financial industry]

Not everyone can be a winner, so what will be the deciding factor when determining success in the digital transformation? I believe success requires a capability to constantly change, challenge yourself and innovate. A culture (“the way we do things around here”) that embraces change provides the foundation for that capability. Customer-centric, data-driven organisations have this digital culture at their core. The most important attributes of a digital culture are:

A sense of purpose. Recognizing that people are driven and inspired by a sense of purpose is key. It is about how we think and communicate about what we do from future visions to every job at hand. People take inspiration from making a difference, learning new things or “making the world a better place”.

Transparency. Digital technology makes transparency so much easier in today’s working place. But transparency is not only about tools. Foremost it is about the mindset that information belongs to everyone. Transparency allows everyone to make the most educated decision in every situation.

Empowerment. The fast changing business environment creates more and more uncertainty for business. Instead of more control, the solution is trust. Empowered individuals and teams with permission to fail make decisions faster and also have the ability to learn faster from feedback. No lean development effort is possible without sufficiently empowered teams and inviduals.

Collaboration. A social and collaborative culture invites trust. Collaboration is about cooperation with professionals of different backgrounds, working as a team. Real-time and spontaneous collaboration empowers people to participate, creating a strong buy-in for change. Self organisation and dynamic networked organisations should be favored over rigid hierarchial ones.

Discipline and resolve. Last but not least, getting things done requires resolve and discipline.

Today, any modern business development effort leverages lean and agile methodologies for speed and customer-centric thinking. In order for these methodologies to work, a digital culture needs to be instilled. This is true even more so when networking with startups and modern consultancies that provide innovative ideas and modern ways of working.

More often than not digital culture is created and left isolated in internal startups or business development programs tasked with digital transformation. While perhaps providing limited success and some fast results, this does not necessarily help the organisation as a whole.

Instilling the right culture – and constantly nurturing it – is not necessarily an easy task. It takes a lot of courage from everyone, especially from management. But a digital culture is not only a requirement in order to embrace change, it is also a key ingredient in a happy and attractive work place. This is often not the case with legacy culture.

 

Mikael Nylund is speaking about the importance of culture in digital transformation at the MoneyFintech 2017 event May 16-17.