A Coronavirus Cannot Make You Digital

Social media can be fun and engaging, especially in times such as these. Lately, we have seen posts, portraying coronavirus as the reason behind digital transformation over other choices like leadership, customers and competition. It is engaging content, to be sure; necessity often yields invention. Giving it further thought, though, what sparked the discussion seems to be the false assumption that being able to hold meetings online means being digital.

It is true that Individuals and businesses have been practicing and learning new ways to connect. For businesses, being able to connect online effectively is a valuable capability for sure. It shows that part of internal processes has been digitised, which is an operational necessity. Being truly digital, on the other hand, spans beyond operations. It involves rethinking the company’s value proposition and employing a diverse set of capabilities around technology and people. Failing to discern “digitizing a set of operations” from “becoming digital” is a mistake.

There are several questions which determine whether your company is actually progressing towards being digital:

  • Are you able to measure the impact of your digital initiatives? Being able to show and measure the contribution of digital initiatives to cost efficiency, productivity, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction is an essential capability. Take the recent and easy example: connecting online. Are your teams more productive, happier and better-organised? Can you figure out how much resource you save, how much quicker you act and how much faster you produce? Or could you actually be overloading your people with back-to-back online meetings, making it harder for them to manage their time and leaving less room for real productivity and creation? Many organizations seem to miss the essential point of connecting online: working smart. The ability to connect online should help an organization do what it could not do otherwise or do it in a more cost-effective manner. Connecting online is just an example. There are more complicated digital initiatives around data, production, connected systems, customer service, etc. Being truly digital means being able to calculate the tangible return of each and define the intangible impact.
  • How do you structure and govern data? Truly digital organizations have well-designed and effective data governance, data architecture and integration processes. Data consolidation, data quality and master data management processes are running, and a clean, correct and rich database is established. External data and unstructured data can be used to enrich internal data and generate business value. Data is accessible by authorised people in real-time across devices and regardless of location.
  • How developed are your analytical capabilities? Today’s high-speed business environment necessitates using real-time data for immediate action. Digital leaders excel at processing and managing real-time data. They are also advanced at prescriptive analytics, predicting scenarios and determining appropriate and effective actions based on different scenarios. Even more, they focus on cognitive and self-learning systems to generate insights beyond the span of traditional analytics. Superior digital companies are able to generate business value out of data analytics by lowering costs-to-serve, increasing sales, and establishing profitable and long-term customer relationships.
  • What is your degree of automation? Digital enterprises use technology to train systems and connect devices in order to perform a wide range of tasks and production activities automatically. Pioneers are able to automate not only discrete tasks and production but also analysis and designing. They follow an overarching automation strategy that breaks organizational silos and allow a smooth coordination of people, things and systems – both internally and externally.
  • How do you deal with information flow and paperwork in internal operations and customer-facing processes? Information flow from the field to the headquarters and within different departments needs to be fast and accurate. Transactions should be monitored in real-time. Eliminating paperwork from all processes should be a focus area as it fosters operational efficiency, cost effectiveness and sustainability. Whenever regulation imposes paperwork to be in a certain process, challenging the status quo and minimizing the amount of paper load in that process is the attitude of a truly digital enterprise.
  • How do you manage the security of online operations and systems? Imagine a “digital virus outbreak”, i.e. a global cyber threat that impacts online operations, will you be able to run online meetings safely? More importantly, will you be able to convince customers that they are safe with their online transactions and that their personal data is protected? Digital champions are experts at cybersecurity issues. Information security policies are strictly followed; event-based monitoring, analysis and remediation are done in real-time.
  • Have you been rethinking your value proposition? Digital pioneers are able to quickly develop and deliver enhanced products, services and interactions by human-centric approach. They are able to empathise with customers and create meaningful solutions and offerings. They combine the digital and physical domains to create a seamless customer experience. Moving beyond traditional boundaries of the existing business is the mindset of digital champions.

Many of the capabilities listed above seem to be beyond the reach of a coronavirus. It is true that the extraordinary situation caused by the virus outbreak sparked a new way of working across a wide range of businesses. Yet, organizations must realise that being truly digital is a deeper and broader phenomenon. It takes effort, commitment and time to effectively define and fully realise the value.



THE BETTER NORMAL #1: “The Better Normal” Will Be Created By Us
THE BETTER NORMAL #2: No way out!
THE BETTER NORMAL #3: Systemic Change or Nudge For The Better Normal
THE BETTER NORMAL #6: The “Real” Resilience Of Supply Chains


A Coronavirus Cannot Make You Digital
Digitopia’s Digital Transformation Dictionary

About Digitopia:

We are trusted advisors to many great companies on their digital journeys. Our passion and focus help businesses succeed. Digitopia is an objective and independent management consulting firm driven by values and delivering tangible impact.

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