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Why disruptive thinking, not technology, is speeding the digital transformation journey

By Marcus Lambert

Just how big is the era of digital transformation? Well, take a look at Airbnb, Uber, and Alibaba. Each used digital to accelerate their future. Essentially, these agile startups disrupted the hotel, taxi, and retail industries in dramatic ways without acquiring inventory or real estate.

As a result of such innovation digital transformation initiatives are now a high priority for business leaders. Changing the culture within organisations while also enhancing the customer experience is no longer filed away as nice-to-haves.

Others lazily continue to see the word disruption as a negative. A costly irony, for although we often talk about legacy hardware or technology, we seldom tackle the damaging effects of such legacy thinking across an entire business. Any increase in competition within traditional markets, that improves services by challenging the old way of doing things, should be seen as a positive change. And an increasing number of companies are also using the combination of technology and innovation to protect the future of their business.

Despite operating in a very traditional environment, Reverie, a supplier of beds and sleep accessories, recently held its second Innovation event with nine furniture retailers. By embracing the sharing of ideas, they positioned the business for the future and prevented their industry from moving beyond them, unseen.

Reverie, now class themselves as a sleep technology company, armed with a wealth of ideas that enhance their products and the technology to transform the customer experience. The change is proving to be a huge success, with the widespread adoption of new ways of working, thinking and processes breaking down silos and paying dividends.

Herein lies the secret. Most organisations fail to recognise that the road to digital transformation is not about technology at all. It’s actually about changing the way we think and the ways we shape office culture. With digital lifestyles creating entirely new expectations and customer experiences, the creation of a transformation team with a future mind-set to build vision and leadership should already be a top priority.

Uber completely transformed the taxi service by serving a need that no other companies were meeting by simply thinking differently. However, there is much more to this story than getting people from A to B. It was the use of big data analytics tools that allowed them to collect valuable data about their customers.

Understanding their riders motivations, behaviours and choices enabled the company to treat every person that requests a cab as a unique individual. Traditional Taxi firms should be working on an alternative rather than complaining about the old way of doing things that favoured the driver rather than the customer experience.

The majority of initiatives fail because they concentrate internally rather than recognise the importance of the customer experience. The only way to provide a uniquely resonant and personalised service is by genuinely understanding consumers changing demands. This focus on people rather than technology is paramount to success.

Ultimately, customers are leading the way forward in this digital transformation. As a business owner, you have a responsibility to throw away those business models from the 80’s and lead the way in a world where hyper change is the new currency. There an increasing need for a new form of leadership that maps people management and tasks to the growth of the organisation.

In many industries, there is a paralysing fear of startups encroaching on traditional businesses. Much of this fear can be attributed to their own slow innovation. Established companies are frequently guilty of taking their foot off the gas, only to find that they lag behind their competitors and are incapable of implementing change with the speed required to keep them in the race.

Rather than locking down employees in outdated processes, or shackling innovation and creativity, today’s organisations must find a way to usher in a new culture where staff feel empowered to collaborate and capable of making a difference.

There are now unprecedented opportunities for growth. Small and medium-sized companies are learning to use flexibility and innovation to gain the advantage over rich but sluggish competitors. The keys to survival require technology to map to business priorities and allow the customer to drive your digitalisation strategy.

Showcasing your vision of where you’re heading is the most important part of this journey. It’s the only way you can engage employees to obtain their much-needed buy-in. It is impossible for any organisation to transform the customer experience if they cannot even change their own culture.

Perhaps seeing employees as we view our customers is the place to start. Seeking out and identifying their intrinsic expectations and empowering their desire to be and make a difference to the company future. Allowing them to make more of themselves and technology to drive the organisation forward in newer and better ways.

Keeping calm and carrying on is simply no longer an option, especially if your more agile competitors are doing everything differently. For want of a phrase, the time has come to disrupt ourselves… before somebody else does.

We are the digital experience company for business brands.

In today’s connected world, experience is brand.

So we help you create better experiences for your customers, employees, partners and stakeholders. Ones that work in empathy with them to achieve their goals, engage and delight them, and build brand loyalty.