Even though almost all businesses now acknowledge the reality of digital disruption, most are still struggling to come to terms with it.
Whilst there are a number of factors which contribute to the difficulties that organizations are facing in engineering an effective response, three stand out in particular.
Firstly, many established businesses – and business people – do not have a clear understanding of digital, and what it might mean for their organization. Most senior executives have grown up in a pre-digital world, where Information Technology has been acknowledged as a necessary reality, but hitherto has not been a core area of executive focus. Meanwhile, where there are people in the business who have a good appreciation of the new technologies, they are frequently in specialist and technical positions, and don’t have the in-depth appreciation of the core business activity to recognise where and how such technologies might be put to good use.
Secondly, organizations and leaders are frequently lacking in knowledge and expertise around how best to approach the complex Transformation required to enable their organizations to embrace the opportunities which digital provides. Typically, the conventional approach to organizational Transformation is as a ‘Project’. But such an approach isn’t appropriate in the context of the rapidly accelerating change and uncertainty of today’s world.
Thirdly, organizations lack the capabilities needed – both in terms of ‘digital’ skills and ‘change’ skills – to take advantage of the new digital opportunities and effect the profound transformation required.
Knowledge and expertise lie at the heart of all three of these factors; and so the fundamental challenge for organizations struggling with how to adapt to the new digital age is how to access and enhance this essential understanding and capability. Recruitment or the use of third party experts might provide part of an answer – but is hardly likely to be sufficient. The key which unlocks the door to digital transformation is learning. Learning is the route by which organizations can become digital.