Updated: Mar 18
Culture Transformations, the Fuel behind Digital Transformations is a two-part series discussing digital culture and change. We explore the importance of culture development and how to achieve a digital culture in today’s workplace for successful transformation and sustainable change.
Digital transformations are sweeping the business landscape, leaders are recognizing the power of technology and growing their enterprise accordingly. As businesses evolve and move towards more technology-enabled processes, leaders often run into obstacles. One of the most common barriers are culture crashes. Being a tech-savvy digital organization doesn’t mean that you just offer tech products, services and interactions with customers, it also means that you power your internal operations and people with technology. Digital organizations encourage innovation from the inside out and shape agile behaviour in their employees. Developing a truly digital culture changes the ways employees perform activities and how they interact with others inside and outside the organization. Like any other major shift, success requires instilling a culture that supports the transformation and the businesses overarching goals.
Achieving a digital culture takes a clear methodology and a distinct effort, but why does building a digital culture matter to your business?
A digital culture acts as a competitive advantage.
A strong and cohesive culture provides guidelines and basic values that steer individuals to make appropriate choices that align with the organization’s goals and strategies. By ignoring culture, organizations may not achieve their digital transformation. Culture is your competitive edge in a successful digital transformation, an environment where leaders champion technology is critical in helping the company thrive. A strong culture encourages the use and support of technology to get work done in the most effective way possible. It’s important to recognize that the introduction of technology on its own, doesn’t guarantee the most effective work. Innovative technology must be accompanied by a strongly nurtured digital culture for the new changes to be received smoothly, employees in this culture will feel more inclined to be productive and encouraged to work smarter, not harder.
A digital culture empowers people to deliver results.
Digital organizations move faster than traditional ones, flatter hierarchies lead to quicker decision making. Linear organizations foster autonomy and a strong digital culture acts as a code of conduct that gives employees the freedom to make their own decisions on the front line. For many digital organizations, their code of conduct is simple, for example, focussing on putting the customer first. Employees understand what values they should demonstrate and use their judgement to make decisions that are favourable towards customers. Change and initiative move through the system faster.
A digital culture attracts and cultivates talent.
In today’s workplace, people are drawn to digital companies, especially Millennials. The promise of a collaborative, creative and autonomous environment is attractive. People care about their work environment and the opportunity to learn new skills; unsurprisingly a digital culture where innovation and flexibility are strongly rooted, attracts more digital talent. The demand for digital talent is quickly outpacing the supply, larger companies are always looking for new ways to attract the talent they need to support their digital transformation.
It’s been well established that employees working in digital cultures feel empowered to do their best work, they have their voices heard, and feel like they’re able to make a real difference. In today’s workplace we have so many different generations working alongside one another, all with the different opinions, perspectives and communications styles at the same table. People want to feel like they’re making a personal impact, titles and paychecks no longer attract the best and brightest talent. Technology helps unlock employee potential and unifies people’s talents, so they feel empowered, teams work better together, and people feel like they’re part of a dynamic community. Digital cultures foster worldwide connection, companies can support the flow of ideas from all over the world, so they have the right information, at the right time, in the right place.
Digital cultures future proof your business.
Digital cultures nurture the process of innovation, industry environments are constantly changing, and businesses need to follow suit to make sure they don’t fall behind. A culture that encourages people to tap into their individual strengths leaves room for experimentation and discussion, it promotes the exploration of ideas and will provide the most potential for breakthroughs. The industry leaders and trendsetters tend to be the companies that have the most diverse talent, promote the most collaboration and give ample freedom to create. Digital cultures enable the capability for businesses to be as agile as their environment.
A healthy culture is a high-performing culture however, there is no universal strategy for a standard digital culture. Some high performing digital cultures are based on companies that encourage more action and less planning; some are focussed on collaboration more than individual effort. These elements vary from industry to industry and company to company, finding the right mix for your people that aligns with the elements of your overarching strategies may not come overnight. It starts with the people; leaders sometimes get lost and preoccupied with the structural and process changes in a digital transformation and overlook the people side of things. Cultural change is a key determinant of a successful digital transformation and shaping a digital culture can secure businesses for a sustainable future.
So why does this all matter?
New technology implemented in a strong and prepared working environment has the potential for great returns, with employees feeling more committed and invested in the company’s overall strategic direction. Technology is a great tool but it’s the passion and skill of your workforce that fuels its positive or negative impact. Don’t just think of digital transformation as an IT exercise, think about it as a people journey. Digital transformation begins with cultural transformation.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Culture Transformations, the Fuel behind Digital Transformations, where we will be discussing how to build and achieve a sustainable digital culture.
Marketing & Communications Coordinator / Associate Consultant