Blog / Leadership & Transformation

How do we start digital transformation? Benefits and opportunities

In the following article, Kyriakos Leousis, Alumni of the Global MBA in Digital Business, outlines some key aspects and concepts that a company with Digital Transformation in its DNA (or in its roadmap) should have internalised. By doing so, benefits and opportunities will arise.Perhaps one of the most challenging phases an organization is going -or will go- through in our days is digital transformation. This is inevitable, as latest global market-environment developments have accelerated evolution -in multiple dimensions- and have altered the way of understanding customers, markets, and needs. Through this article we will follow the path, in order to make the first and important steps, of digital transformation. In parallel, we will have the chance to recognize the benefits and opportunities that arrive from some core transformational components.

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How we actually see organizations is a matter of significant importance for their development. It’s about time to deeply understand and recognize them as ‘live organisms’; full of ‘vivid cells’ which are structured from unique individuals, professionals. And those individuals are connected by exchanging and communicating information, through technical and soft skills, using technologies, growing culture, under a common mission and vision. So, as we go deeper to comprehend those ‘live organisms’, we have to take into consideration one and only factor, that is responsible for the status quo of organizations. That inevitable factor is evolution. It’s so remarkable how Charles Darwin theory for species, can be further interpreted and offer an understanding about the necessity of adaptation in modern companies. “If an environment changes, the traits that enhance survival in the environment will also gradually change or evolve”. How powerful can that statement be in a modern market full of alterations at high velocity? Let’s see things differently. Let’s understand the transformational urgency that derives from multiple messages arriving daily and in several contents. Organizations have to evolve and grow under a new spectrum. They have to live in the era of digital transformation, where not only new technologies will be added in processes and operational level. A new holistic approach has to be applied in order to understand the market, people, culture and how efficient interconnectivity at all levels can offer the highest value for the customer. Let information and knowledge be shared, openly. Allow communication among multiple transmitters and receivers and create a strategic thinking and acting environment of co-existence and co-performing.

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So, are we also prepared to answer some “personal” questions in order to enter the world of digital transformation? Do we actually know who we are? There has to be an inner self-evaluation in the organization. It has to be in depth, without fear. It has to be transparent and true, so everybody at the organization can embrace it and see the first signs of maturity. Recognizing the level of maturity in an organization is by all means very critical. It’s the reflection of the organization. What others see must match with what we see, what we truly are. It may seem contradictory, but self-evaluation is the first step for being extroverted; and the latter is needed if we want to keep top-level efficient communication with customers. There is no point in recognizing a different reflection than reality. Self-evaluation combined with a benchmarking approach will open the world of an efficient SWOT analysis, a fruitful PESTEL understanding. Will give the organization the opportunity to realize people skills and potentialities and further develop new roles. We cannot deliver effectively, if we cannot understand deeply. We must continuously benchmark our maturity levels, in all organization’s aspects, in order to stay up-to-date and retain the ability of continuous evolution. There is nothing reprehensible in following a good paradigm; on the contrary this philosophy is missing. Once we have a deep understanding of our organization and its future potentialities, we have to strengthen and support our strategy, our vision. We have to pinpoint the significant elements of our value chain and make them highly competitive compared to the market, without neglecting the rest of the “chainrings”. Support by evaluating and offering appropriate technologies, tools and training, in order to add value to end products or services. Each industry may have different needs and different approaches in value chain roles. This is of great consideration, as digital transformation should not only come on-time, but also in-proper order. Balance is needed, as we cannot neglect areas, in order to focus only on those where transformation is more “convenient” or less expensive. Setting balance and importance, we have the opportunity to gradually transform and at the same time see the results from our transformational investment. According to the above, the gap of “environmental evolution” vs “organizational evolution” will get narrowed and we can further develop our strategy, in a more secure and efficient framework.

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Things we used to deliver in certain ways were fulfilling certain demands in the past. Retain a good traditional approach does not secure a modern success. It’s obvious to upgrade something from poor to good. How obvious or what is the level of acceptance and effort, to upgrade something, from good to excellent? Can organizations fit this approach in their strategy? It is not actually a matter of strategy. It is a matter of culture. It’s about the perception an organization wants to build, facing everything as a new challenge; and not as a threat or a time of inconvenience. Culture is very important. Some professionals would argue that is the most important component of a company. Societies change their cultures through years, why cannot companies easily accept this stage of evolution? Culture is a result of continuous mixing of elements. Non-stop procedure, of mixing the right proportion of ingredients with a certain pace. This is the secret recipe. Keep feeding the culture, without harming the existing mix. New people, new ideas, fresh professionals who can add the unique “flavor” to the transformation process. Existent professionals with huge expertise and know-how, who can come closer to new technologies, new dimensions, new era, with the right training and role. In this way we keep strong culture foundations -as we constantly reinforce them- which actually have more to do with adapting in a new environment, and less with company legacy. Of course, technologies and data are coming to support an overall digital transformation, quite loud. Big data is needed and the flow inside the organization should be continuous. Integrity is essential as with proper use and evaluation data can be proved “gold”. Who has the right data and uses it at maximum, will have the benefit. Technologies are important too, but there is no meaning of having technologies that cannot be fully exploited and offer you maximum benefit and competitiveness. Both elements (data and technologies) cannot offer you the maximum benefit if there is no clear self-evaluation, true maturity index, value chain prioritization and evolving culture approach, in order to use them effectively.The digital transformation concept of today will be the standard way of doing things in no time. Customers are getting more familiar with new environment, new technologies. New needs will always appear, and those organizations who can understand them and can cover them fast and in-full will lead the race. It’s really crucial to stay connected with the customer and perhaps this is the most priceless benefit digital transformation can offer.

Kyriakos Leousis Trade Marketing & Sales Operations Manager at KRI KRI SA and Alumni of the Global MBA in Digital Business