We live in a time of major and rapid change, and one of the most significant changes is the digital transformation of companies. In managing change, we cannot ignore the significance of the Digital Revolution that has followed the Industrial Revolution. How should these changes be managed so that digitalization is successful?
The process that you want to digitalize must be solid, robust and serve your function. Digitalization is nothing more than doing what you are already doing faster, more intelligently with artificial intelligence, and more accurately; You minimize human error by minimizing human involvement.
Digitalization is not having a new process instead of the old process, and it's not just an improvement on what we already have. It is a paradigm shift in leadership mindset. Instead of strategy being decided first and followed by digitalization of that strategy, a company must start with the notion that it is already digitalized and consider what it can do with that new capability. It can extend its market and product line beyond what it considers its traditional scope. In short, digitalization is a major strategic change initiative that requires significant preparation to be successfully implemented.
Thus, before we go into managing digitalization, we must ask ourselves whether the system that's going to be digitalized, is serving its function or not? And what is that system? What other opportunities does digitalization enable us to capitalize on that have been out of our planning scope?
For that purpose, the first question is: "Is the mission of the company, the vision of the company, clear?" If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. You're digitalizing your old plans and, by doing so, losing sight of the future. In other words, “if you digitalize a mess, you get a faster mess.”
Once the mission and the vision are clear and agreed upon, and you can measure and verify whether you are advancing towards them, the next question is: "Is the organization structured correctly to reach the mission?"
If the information does not flow well, the digitalization is not going to work. It's going to increase confusion. The structure needs to be very well understood and serving the mission of the organization before you design the information flow, and all the other processes digitally. Mission and vision should be clear, and the structure well-articulated. Elaborate the decision metrics as to who decides on what subject, with whom he or she must consult, who actually makes the final decision, who needs to ratify it, if at all, and who must be informed about the decision made. The human-interface machine must be clear before you can build a digital process.
The next subject that needs to be addressed is making sure that digitalization and automation —which is a major part of digital transformation — do not take out the soul of the company. Do not let the whole process and treatment of clients become cold, impersonal and alienating.
Digitalization is not the beginning of transformation. To make it successful, it should come at the end of intense preparatory work.