“Some say it’s easier for start-ups and tech companies to embrace digitisation (apps, bots, artificial intelligence) because they have been born into this “tech era”, but how can traditional organisations make the necessary transition?”
I get asked this question a lot, and frankly, it's irritating. Big companies (and many times, the HR people who work there) are fixated with being digital.
I’m going to answer it here for anyone who is interested, so that I can simply send the link to this article to people from the future, who ask the question again. Asking how do I be more digital?, how do we do digital transformation?, is redundant.
In any case:
Locate, attract and recruit talent who want to play the role of catalyst, cheerleader and spirit guide. It all comes down to talent, in the end.
My favourite example of someone doing this right now in a very traditional business, is Ian Rogers at LVMH. Here you have a guy, a serial music and internet entrepreneur, ex-Apple, walking the halls of a company who’s oldest brand dates back to 1593. Ian even had a haircut to make it happen.
After “asking lots of questions, and untangling lots of knots”, he’s almost 2 years into his job and doing great things at the venerable luxury group. To attest to this, just look at the share price, which has almost doubled since he joined.
Stop using the word digital.
I realize that I won’t be the first or the last to say it. This language so often leads to “it” getting stuck in a silo of highly paid people who don’t integrate and are not welcomed. The thing… It’s not a technological revolution, it’s a cultural revolution. It’s not about digital it’s about the internet. It’s a fundamental medium to change culture. Culture is at the heart of all companies, (even old ones) so, digital is not something to replace culture, but to augment it.
Don’t get tangled up in conversations about making the business more digital. (Or to have more AI, more Bots, more apps). Not to mention the word “digitization” is irresponsible and sounds very crass. Don’t want or wish to digitize. Want to change the way a company works through culture and make that your starting point.