It’s far from front page news to say the world is changing, and changing at a never observed and further increasing speed. According to Ray Kurzweil, a known futurist and founder of Singularity University, the “future will be far more surprising than most people realise because few observers have truly internalised the implications of the fact that the rate of change itself is accelerating.”
Technologies like the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence/machine learning, advanced analytics, and Big Data are all changing the way business is conducted, each in its own stream, and bringing all these together can increasingly change the way value is provided to customers, employees, and society overall. The current advancements in genetics, nanotechnologies, and robotics will radically change the role of humankind and the way it interacts with the surrounding environment.
European businesses are just starting to look into this topic (IDC, July 2015), and in working with numerous customers to help them set and take their journeys, we have learned that there are five main pillars companies must address to become successful in their digital transformation and build or reinforce their competitiveness in these times of exponential revolution. They are: the digital mindset, defining a digital destiny, investing in digital technology capabilities, skills and talent management, and evolving the organisation.
- Establish a digital mindset – Businesses need to act quickly on these digital trends. In order to achieve that, organizational leaders must openly embrace digital in all their their interactions and encourage others to apply a digital mindset across all levels of the organization. They also need to be able to accept and live with the fact that disruption might be uncontrollable.
- Define a digital destiny – It’s important to have an objective so we know where to go. Like a hurdle race, there will be many obstacles on the way that have to be overcome, but at the end of the day the race will lead somewhere. Along the race it may be necessary to understand how the environment changes and adjust the objective or recognize that the path opens new possibilities that will only materialize when the biggest picture is in mind. Leaders need to understand this paradox and be determined and open-minded.
- Invest in digital technology capabilities – The interconnection between the world and technology is now and will become more prominent. Successful businesses are blending and blurring the frontiers between psychical and digital. To have success in digital transformation, technologies must be at the center of engaging relationships, serve different purposes for business and IT, and be the core of strategy and central to the definition of new business models.
- Adapt skills and talent management – In an era of high-speed revolution, skills and talent must be fostered and managed differently. Technology is so embedded in our day-to-day lives that it needs to work seamlessly. Businesses need to be resourceful to source new skills and convert existing skills into new ones, but also to ensure these are stimulated in the right way. Creating an inventory, preparing an evolution, and understanding the gaps of available skills and the ability to source them must be addressed.
- Evolve the organization – As it addresses the previous individual aspects, a company needs must also bring them together in a continuous evolution. Digital transformation isn’t going to stop, and companies need to be able to adapt and redesign themselves to keep the spirit and ensure value creation for all stakeholders. Ultimately, people will remain at the center of institutions.