Go digital in 2018: stop reheating old dishes
It is customary, when we talk about the digital age, to talk about the 2010s to date. Before we had the web, web 2.0 or social web then at the end of the 2000s came the digital word that we could have used from the beginning.
Since we had to find a way to justify the thing and get the message across that it was a rupture (well yes … there are people who have business to do on this) we found plenty justifications, some very relevant others not.
New words, old problems
– we used to talk about technology, now we talk about use. It also allows some to explain why we use digital instead of digital, the latter term being supposedly reserved for a tool-oriented approach. But wasn’t the focus on use already how we sold the web 2.0 “revolution”?
– because it concerns both the internal and the external. Before, we had web 2.0 for communicators and enterprise 2.0 for the internal, then the social web and social business… And it holds together.
So of course from the mid-90s to today technology and uses have radically evolved and new subjects have emerged that we did not even have idea in 2000, such as data, mobile internet, virtual reality or robots. In 2000, consumer behavior was certainly not the same as it is today. In 2000, employees were just beginning to realize that what the company was offering them in terms of tools, services and processes was not up to what they could have at home.
However, I still have the impression that many new subjects are often only old subjects skillfully rebranded to regain the attention of the customer (when you are a supplier) or his management (when you are in-house).
If we take data… we’ve always done big data. It’s the notion of big that changes over time. In 1995 we spoke in Mo, in 2000 in Go, and today we are happily exploring To. But we have always done as big as the technology of the time allowed. And on the issues of processing and governance rest many of the old questions faced by the pioneers of Business Intelligence. What has changed is the volume, the ease of taking into account unstructured data and the fact that the subject comes out of an expert pole to become a business subject for everyone.
Take another promise like collaboration or collective intelligence. Corporate social networks haven’t revolutionized collaboration and sharing any more than good old groupware and document sharing tools. Why ? The real issue behind collaboration is not technological but managerial and cultural and we have always refused to take the subject from this angle while waiting for technology to solve everything by miracle (which has never happened).
Technology matters less than the context in which it is used
Today the technology is there, efficient, often affordable, omnipresent. It is no longer the subject because it is no longer the blocking factor. What matters is its use which is favored or not by a context.
And data, in marketing or e-commerce, makes us question the silotage and ownership of data in the company which is only the consequence of the organizational silotage from which we have been trying to fight for 30 at least. We have always waited for technology to disarm the company because doing it through the organization and management was too complicated and / or sensitive. So nothing has changed and the subject comes up repeatedly.
No need to talk about collaboration, I did it above.
The question of robots and personal assistants is less a question of AI than of process. An AI (or a good rules engine that we often pass off for an AI) brings speed and scalability to a process, it remains to be seen what this process is (whether we are talking about a service provided to the customer or to the employee). If your good old process is inappropriate or dysfunctional, digitizing it will above all help you produce m…. faster and on a larger scale than before. So we have to put all the key processes flat. The subject comes back regularly, is regularly evacuated because taboo.
In general, digital is becoming more of a mode of operation, a vision of the organization and operation of a company around a number of key principles, including simplification. The digital transformation of a company is therefore, among other things, to lean without knowing it. And those who were rejected by the approach yesterday are not further advanced today because these are the same reasons that prevent them from taking their digital transformation at the right end.
Going digital means making decisions and implementing them
Moving forward in digital means first of all making decisions and showing courage in their implementation because if subjects keep being buried and coming back, it is first that they are important and then that we never knew or wanted to treat them. Technology everyone has it, what changes from company to company is that some have made decisions to solve their real problems (or part of them) and others have tirelessly hid the dust under the carpet while waiting for technology to come to solve a problem which was above all human. What never happened and never will happen.
Conclusion: digital is a business and organizational subject above all and taking it from a tool perspective only prevents creating the context for its success.
Bertrand Duperrin is Digital Transformation Practice Leader in Emakina. He was previously Consulting Director at Nextmodernity, a firm in the field of business transformation and management through social business and the use of social technologies.
He regularly deals with social media news on his blog.