Fix Friends Neil Perkins and Peter Abrahams have written a great book on Digital Transformation. Having worked with them on a couple of projects I know the breadth of their experience and the depth of their expertise, through so many projects. So the book is highly recommended.
This is an extract from their book Building the Agile Business through Digital Transformation on one of the key issues -
In this context of rapid disruption empowered by digital technologies, it
has never been more important to develop a common language within an
organization for what digital really means.
In fact, this is as good a starting point as any for digital transformation.
Ask a hundred people to define what digital is and you will get a hundred
different responses. Developing a commonly understood definition enables
the business to align around just that – a common understanding. Yet so
few businesses actually do this. Since digital is so broad, touching so many
areas of what we do, and since it blurs traditional boundaries between roles,
functions, departments, categorizations, having a common understanding
forms the basis for not only a shared vision and an inherently more aligned
approach, but also the foundation from which to create change.
Many definitions often focus on aspects such as content, video, mobile,
interaction, scale, ubiquity – in other words on what digital does rather than
what digital is. Yet the simplest possible definition is to characterize digital
in terms of binary code (ones and zeros). A method of getting information
from one place to another that is not analog.
In one sense this is helps us to get past the idea that digital is a mysterious,
amorphous, ever-changing thing that is impossible to grasp, and
instead frames it in the context of taking common needs, wants, actions and
delivering to them or applying them in a new way. Digital technologies are
radically shifting behaviours and reinventing entire markets, but that does
not mean that we should forget everything we know about great companies,
great products and great brands.
Yet if we are to form a useful, instructive definition we should take
account of more than the technical aspects of digital. It is often the case that
within organizations there is a disproportionate focus on the technology
itself (new technology for the sake of new technology), over all the enablers
that surround the technology, really bring it to life, and fully realize its capability
(people, behaviours, processes, skills, culture).
When the team that drove the initial digital transformation of service
delivery for the UK Government moved to do the same thing at the Co-Op,
they originated a definition that recognized that when done well, digital
means more than fundamentally redesigning services; it also means changing
the way in which we work:
Applying the culture, practices, processes and technologies of the Internet era to
respond to people’s raised expectations. (Bracken, 2016)9
Creating a single sentence definition for what digital means to your business
creates the platform from which change can be actioned.
1 Michael E Porter (2008) Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining
Superior Performance, Free Press; new Ed edition, ASIN: B003YCQ2O4
2 Philip Evans (November 2013) How Data Will Transform Business, TED @
BCG San Francisco, [Online] http://www.ted.com/talks/philip_evans_how_data_
will_transform_business?language=en [accessed 16 October 2016]
3 Clay Christensen on Disruptive Innovation, Clarendon Lectures 10 June
2013, [Online] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpkoCZ4vBSI [accessed
3 November 2016]
4 Ray Kurzweil (2004) Kurzweil’s Rules of Invention, MIT Technology Review,
[accessed 16 October 2016]
5 Proven Models, invention innovation diffusion trilogy, [Online] http://www.
schumpeter [accessed 16 October 2016]
6 Charles Handy (August 1995) The Empty Raincoat, Making Sense of the
Future, Random House, ISBN-10: 0099301253
Copyright material. Publisher: Kogan Page Ltd
How digital disrupts 33
7 Dave Snowden (July 2016) Cognitive Edge, … taken at the flood, [Online]
https://cognitive-edge.com/blog/taken-at-the-flood/ [accessed 16 October 2016]
8 Clay Christensen (May 2012) How Will You Measure Your Life?,
HarperCollins, ISBN-10: 1633692566
9 Mike Bracken (June 2016) Co-op digital blog, What we mean when we say
digital, [Online] https://digital.blogs.coop/2016/06/14/what-we-mean-when-wesay-
digital/ [accessed 16 October 2016]
This extract from Building the Agile Business through Digital Transformation by Neil Perkin and Peter Abraham is ©2017 and reproduced with permission from Kogan Page Ltd.
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