Digital Transformation

Don’t Underestimate Employees and Culture in Your Transformation

shutterstock_174539255_350I’ve come to the conclusion that digital transformation is like peeling an onion. There are so many layers and pieces. You have to get a lot of pieces right including:

  1. Customer Insight
  2. Strategy: no transformation can work if your fundamental business strategy is a failure
  3. Design processes
  4. Enabling technologies (admittedly huge)
  5. Measurement
  6. Operations
  7. Culture

I want to focus on the culture component. Many times I’ve been at a client and talking about what we could do to truly make a difference in a great customer experience, more productive employees, well positioned partners, etc. More than once, I’ve received the following as an answer:

We can’t do that. Our leadership/employees/culture won’t allow it.

In other words, if you want to do anything that includes the word, “transformation,” then you absolutely must focus on the culture. You must focus on creating institutions and structures that allow for change to happen. Think of common activities that will happen in a a typical digital transformation roadmap.

  1. Need to define KPI’s, measure success or failure, and act on it.  You can’t because no one wants to fund a resource to track measurement and push for change based on that data.
  2. You setup a social network with a couple key communities asking for ideas. Almost no one responds because the culture disapproves of feedback.
  3. Same track. You want to enable commenting on key marketing assets. You also want to put them out in the “open” for reuse. It’s nixed because they fear re-use.
  4. Content marketing is king, you need your professionals to put out blog posts, white papers, how-to’s, etc. You can’t for fear they might say the wrong thing.
  5. Changing to a digital first business demands a change to a variety of business processes but you can’t because this demands collaboration and workflows across divisions and departments.  No one wants to make those changes.

You get the idea. Change is hard. It’s harder when you are marching into a world that’s still being defined. If you fail to take into account how to manage the culture and that change then you guarantee failure in your effort.

Next week I’ll focus on some things you could do to let culture be an enabler rather than a constraint.

About the Author

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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