Embracing a digital culture is not about technology, it’s about people.
The pace of technological advancements over the past few decades has been nothing short of unprecedented. The digital age has subtly brought about a radical shift in perception and expectation of consumers. This has led to the evolution of a new set of consumers- the digital consumers. In a bid to keep pace with the demands and needs of the new consumer, established and emerging companies alike are striving to adapt their methods and processes to the change. This has brought about a new term in the field of organisational culture ‘digital culture’.
What is digital culture?
Digital culture is essentially a broad concept that tries to examine the influence of the internet and the technologies that depend on the internet on our way of life. For organisations, digital culture can be narrowed down to how much an organisation has embraced these perceptions and technologies in order to meet the dynamic demands of the digital consumer. Many companies actually seek to change their businesses so they can tap into the opportunities presented by the emergence of the new consumer. The caveat is that the success rate is underwhelming as changing established methods and processes could prove quite difficult. A survey published by Couchbase attests to this fact. Only 10% of all the companies that seek to transform themselves digitally in order to adapt to the changing market end up achieving their transformational goals. But this doesn’t mean businesses should stop trying because an inability to satisfy the digital consumer would ultimately spell doom for any business.
Digital culture and digital strategy, any difference?
Often, people use the terms digital strategy and digital culture interchangeably, but these terms mean entirely different things. A digital strategy places more focus on using a digital tool to transform certain areas of the organisation. The area in question could be optimising customer support experience, enhancing communication within the organisation, etc. Essentially, digital strategy has a rather limited scope. Digital culture, on the other hand, refers to a radical shift in the way of thinking and carrying out every process in the organisation.
Digital Culture Drives Strategy
The need to create a digital culture
In less than three decades, Amazon rose from what seemed like just a regular book store to one of the most valuable companies in the world. While it may be very hard to pin down Amazon’s success to a single factor, the key role played by digital culture in driving this incredible growth cannot be overemphasised. Many of the traditional retail stores around are also privy to the same technology Amazon employed while going up the ranks. A good number also would have employed the same digital strategies. But the key difference is the approach and that is largely determined by digital culture.
It is the digital culture that makes organisations stick to innovative approaches, even when they may not deliver instant results. It is the same culture that drives organisations to constantly think up new methods of meeting the needs of consumers even when the traditional methods still appear effective. An organisation that doesn’t embrace digital culture doesn’t have to do anything wrong before it loses its relevance. From experience, the inaction is crime enough.
Why do most businesses fail?
As mentioned earlier, most businesses fail spectacularly in their digital transformation attempts. Even the businesses that struggle to develop a digital strategy across many facets of the organisation still do not record much success. It is safe to conclude that it is not simply about the methods of technological tools available. The singular driving factor appears to be the people. If the members of the organisation do not get in tune with the digital culture, no amount of digital strategy put in place can make the organisation attain the digital transformation goal. The leadership of the organisation is saddled with a huge responsibility here. Although there is hardly any organisational process that can be implemented flawlessly, not carrying the personnel in an organisation spells doom for any organisational transformation. The leaders should communicate the new heights the organisation wishes to attain and the change to a digital culture that is necessary to attain the desired goals.
How to go about it
It has to be reiterated that embracing the digital culture is easier said than done. This is especially true for organisations that have been in existence for long. Since people have been identified as the major drivers of this change, there is a lot of work to be done on the members of staff of any organisation that hopes to successfully undergo a digital transformation. Here are some tips that could help.
- Embrace transparency: Perhaps the hardest part of the digital transformation process is getting people to believe there is a need for it. Transparency is definitely the key to this. Everyone should have a clear idea of how important digitalisation is to the progress of the organisation. Real values should be provided on how the process can increase sales, productivity and ultimately revenue.
- Encourage collaboration: A key element of the digital organisation is collaboration. Employees should be encouraged to work together and freely share ideas. The IT department cannot possibly achieve the desired results alone but with the help of every other department in the organisation.
- Training: Since digital technologies would be adopted before an organisation can fully go digital, the need to train the members of staff arises. While it is expected that every progressive individual in this age should be familiar with digital technologies, the organisation would still need to groom its members to the desired levels in terms of digital technology utilisation.
- Take risks: Sitting comfortably on a method that works is the bane of many organisations. Consumers have never been this dynamic and organisations need to be flexible in order to match the dynamism of the digital consumer. Any organisation that is hoping to create a digital culture must be open to taking risks for the greatest rewards often come from the greatest risks.
The term ‘digital culture’ should not be seen as just another fancy managerial term. Rather, it should be perceived as what it really is- a practical approach to changing how people think in an organisation and how things work in order to match the dynamism of today’s consumers. Once everyone is fully aware of the need for creating a responsive digital culture, the first and perhaps the most important hurdle towards achieving the goal would have been successfully crossed.