Is digital transformation right for all companies?
There are plenty of reports, publications and opinions on the process of change that people and organisations go through, highlighting its benefits and bringing to light its challenges. But in general, it is a period with a negative connotation, and perhaps this is because, as human beings, we are “creatures of habit”, who find it difficult to go through these changes and emerge unscathed.
But this last period has taught us – for those who had doubts – that we can spend years building something, and from one day we have to change it. Those companies that see these challenges of change and transformation as attractive are actually thinking out of the box with mostly very positive repercussions.
And while it may seem that the challenge is to define a goal, in reality, the most difficult thing is to decide the “what for”. Why are we going to make this change? Why are we going to digitise this process if it works as it is? Why are we going to invest time, resources and money in this development? Well, the answer should be that we are doing all this to improve the processes and the results achieved.
Until we understand that technology has to be at our service, and not the other way around, we will continue to face these digital transformation processes with fear, slowness and scepticism. Because to change, to think differently, to do these things differently, is simply to fight against years of learned habits.
We have more and more buzzwords that we repeat or blurt out in the middle of explaining a project, and that is meant to make it disruptive. But in the end, disruption is not discursive but factual, and it goes hand in hand with the size of the organisation and its problems. Just ask Robert Crandall, who in the late 1980s decided to remove the olive from the salad served on American Airlines flights, thus saving the company thousands of dollars a year. For some, he was a visionary, for others the man who uncovered the cuts in airline service quality.
Let’s consider for a moment this question inspired by a story told by Theodore Levitt. “What does Black & Decker do? Drills? DIY equipment? Tools? No. They make holes. Drills happen to be the best way to do it, but that may not always be the case. New technology can, for example, produce a laser-driven machine that can do the job better. If Black & Decker had not realised that it was in the hole-making business rather than the drill business, they would have been as vulnerable to competition as the roll film manufacturers were with the new technology of digital cameras.
There is no reason to believe that disruption and digital transformation are only for some organisations. From a shoe shop to an SME that manufactures screws, to a multinational, there are areas for digital improvement in this regard. And that is why they put technology at their service and not the other way around.
By Justi Vila, FJ Communications