3 steps to digital transformation

1. Transformation begins in the mind

Digitization creates advanced uses for existing things, but also space for entirely new ideas. The best example of this is the mail-order business, in which the online world has almost completely replaced the old catalogues. Another example consists of flexible manufacturing methods such as 3D printing, which allow online merchants to produce and distribute fully customized products.
The difficulty consists of understanding and assuming the risks and opportunities of digitisation from within existing structures and business models. Only where revolution is truly wanted and driven by top management, can it actually take place. This has to start in the mind. A positive attitude has to be taken toward the changes, old paradigms have to be left behind and new, creative ideas and solutions have to be found. Distance and shyness is a poor approach, because even during the brainstorming process digital support can be essential collaboration in the form of tools and knowledge management systems in the company.

2. Transformation includes the company culture

a) Transformation requires the support of the whole company. Even opposites like digital savvy “nerds” and the more conservative “average folks” can successfully complement each other with their entirely different worlds of experience as team players when they move together in the same direction. After all, the most successful innovations are based on experience. Innovation processes must therefore be managed with tact and always maintain an optimum balance between rules and freedoms, which meet the individual needs of the company, the employees and the requirements of their everyday work.

b) Everything new poses potential risks. But only those who have the courage to fail take risks. In a future-oriented corporate culture, mistakes therefore have to be are allowed, but the standards for success and failure also have to be redefined. Typically digital transformation projects can not immediately be compared with the figures of established business areas. Much more emphasis should be placed on long-term effects and the gained know-how. Innovation models and iterative development methods like scrum, lean startup, design thinking or service design provide helpful strategies.

3. Transformation requires the necessary means

Digitization is not a little side project that can be advanced by a few employees. It requires the support of the whole company. Each change and innovation costs money, time, personnel and resources.
And they are based on full restructuring and interweaving with the structure of the internet. After all, the foundation of digital change is always global availability of data via the internet, and access to this data via browser. Not only internal software, but also products, business processes and business models will have to incrementally adapt to become part of this system consisting of infrastructure and related platforms.

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