The vast majority of executives know that they should digitise the business as much as possible and as quickly as possible. What often causes delays in the process is the focus on what it will cost, rather than looking at what it will give in profit and competitive edge. In this series of articles over we will take you on a journey of digital transformation for your business and what it means for you.

What does it mean to undertake a digital transformation and digital culture change? Where do you start?

Let’s first consider the historical context behind the current business disruption we are experiencing in a day to day basis.

If you go back 30 or 40 years, what did we use on a daily basis then that we don’t use now? Examples include, the fixed telephone and the fax machine. Although some businesses still use the fax! We used fax to receive client orders when I worked in Switzerland in 2011.

What exists today that did not exist then?  For example, the Smartphone, Cassette tape, Internet. Much has happened just the last 10 years. And it gives us an indication of what is likely to happen in the immediate future.

Most of us have heard about the “Kodak Moment”. There are many opinions as to how the company that was the market leader and the largest within the photo industry could go bankrupt. According to Harvard Business Review, the reason wasn’t that they didn’t have the technology or the knowledge, they did. The reason was that they did not understand that digital photos were the new way to do business, the new business model. It wasn’t just a new opportunity. The same year Kodak went bankrupt, the app Instagram was purchased for $ 1 billion.

Today, all businesses and people are facing digital disruption and another common threat, a potential crash on the stock exchange. Predictions are that It is likely to get as bad as in 2008, if not as bad as in the 1930’s. The measurement parameters that provide an indication of where we are in relation to a crash, are worse than they were before Black Tuesday in 1930.

In the fall of 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis, I searched for jobs in Paris. Paris is a city with high unemployment rates and riots in the streets with burning cars protesting the employment policy amongst other things. I couldn’t speak French fluently and I didn’t even live in Paris. I memorised what to answer in French for the interviews I managed to get and I bought flights to be present in person during the interviews. I also ignored all the doomsday prophecies I received from family and friends. I was determined to succeed. And I did.

In the midst of the financial crisis, I did not only get one, but two job offers in Paris. Lucky? Two years later, I did it over again. Living in Paris, I applied for jobs in other European countries. I got a job in Ireland with Oracle and a job in Elizabeth Arden in Switzerland and chose to move to Geneva. Why do I tell you this story? Because success both in business and personally is possible, even in a recession and with challenging odds.

We are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an era named by Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum. Entire industries are disrupted and changed radically overnight. The meaning of the word disruption is changing the way in which businesses are conducted.

The revolution of technological disruption we are in, means billions of people and ultimately billions of devices, robots, machines and power networks, digital datanodes and much more will be connected to each other.

With today’s adaptation speeds, the technological giant Cisco expects that by the end of this decade, three out of four companies will be fully digitised.

The School of Business at Washington University estimates that 40 percent of today’s Fortune 500 companies on the S&P 500 Index, will no longer exist in ten years. They will become victims of digital challengers.

Digital transformation means the adaptation and change process a company is undergoing to take advantage of the technological development. A digital transformation often involves an IT transformation and always a transformation of your company culture. This is because it means a change in the way work is done on a daily basis.

Where do you start? “One size does not fit all”

When we work with companies that face a digital culture change, we start with a needs analysis and a change readiness report or change review.

This is because you need to know both top-down and bottom-up what are the key challenges you have and what can stop you in a digitisation process. It’s the first phase where we will explore and understand what is the status quo and explore the company’s and employees’ ability to go through the change.

One of the pitfalls when a business is facing a major transformation is not to focus on transparent communication right from the start: All people are afraid of change, regardless of title and background. If there is insufficient information about the change, rumours can start in the coffee breaks. This can lead to uncertainty that in turn leads to working against the change process and digital transformation.

Therefore, we start the digital and culture transformation by communicating with everyone and giving employees an opportunity to feedback how they think the process is going.

What processes are most urgent to improve and which should be digitised?

Is it a CRM software you need? Do you need to improve the sharing of communication, documents and information both internally and with external parties? Is it your webpage or your sales channels that are not optimal? Is it your tools for decision making processes that are not good enough? We suggest you find out through a change readiness analysis that will give you a solid foundation on where and how to start the digital transformation of your business.

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