Digital Transformation as an Experiment

There is much talk over the concept of digital transformation lately.

I have now met several companies, from large enterprises to mid and small businesses across EMEA, who are working towards it in many different ways. And this is the common thread: that every company is different and their path to digital must, therefore, be unique and tailored according to their business processes. The first question I get is usually: what are the others doing? And obviously the examples help, but are not the solution to the imagination issue.

There is no such thing as a common procedure to go digital: so far the most successful (and intriguing) customers I met have set up a “digital experimentation team“, which consists of a bunch of technology savvy enthusiasts, who like to try new stuff (incidentally this would be the dream job of any geek, including myself): they are connected and socially active, they like to attend virtual and real events and meetings, even if just for the sake of mixing up ideas and new technologies; they are passionate about innovation of any sort.

This approach of the “dream team”, in my opinion and experience, works well in many ways:

  • If the company has no idea of how to get digital, this would be the team that will experiment and drive all the new stuff. They will be the salmons, swimming upstream while the rest of the company would typically try and resist change, until something beautiful happens, and then they become the praised heroes of the above mentioned transformation. This might take a while, though, and requires tough people who are willing to resist all the retortion of  the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. It might be wise to rotate people so that they are not burnt by the job, and in the end it might also take a while to get some result. But what are the other options when there is no clear path? The only way is really to experiment off the beaten track of the company and enter the realm of digital sleepwalking.
  • If the company is already ahead of the game and wants to keep the pace, then this would really be the dream-team, as there is budget, willingness to change and an open mentality to drive changes. So the only danger here is to over-think the transformation and do too much of it. These people would be bringing new ideas to the table almost daily, and some of them might get to project approval, and some of them might succeed, thus keeping the company again one step beyond its digital track. It takes courage to do and view things with a new perspective.
  • If a company is in the middle, meaning that there are some ideas and some digital presence has already started, but they’re not ahead of the game yet, there’s a lot of grey shades here to fill: an experimentation team would still do good, as they would be at least responsible for identifying and trying the new stuff (and the inevitable scapegoats when something goes wrong), plus they can liberally and quickly test new strategies that would take months to scale up the standard complex processes. A small dedicated team can give a company the required flexibility to try and fail, without compromising much, while allowing the successful projects to be then scaled to the whole company.

Have you appointed your digital experimentation team yet? 🙂

 

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2 thoughts on “Digital Transformation as an Experiment

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