Where is digital in the digital transformation?

by bold-lichterman

Digital transformation is above all human and an HR subject.

I mentioned at the end of last year the importance of digital transformation programs which aim not to promote the use of such or such technology but to create the context favorable to a way of managing or working which can – or not – be supported by tools.

But before what promises to be the great chestnut tree of 2014 takes off, I invite you to think about the place that “digital” really holds in the transformation in question so as not to run headlong into the wall and reproduce at the same time. same mistakes made many times in the past.

Digital is – in large part – the cause of transformation

Before talking about transformation, we must first look at its causes. They are diverse. We will come back to this in detail in a future post, but we can cite in bulk: transformation of business models towards solution and no longer product approaches, the physical product which becomes part of a service offer, empowerment of the connected customer who requires a relationship client reinvented, increasing complexity and acceleration of the world in general and of the economy in particular which transform the exception into a rule and lead to rethink our standardized and standardized operating methods, “digitalization” and connection of our lives, our actions and our objects generating a considerable mass of data to be exploited and enhanced …

So many reasons which lead to rethink the work, the operating methods and, logically, the framework in which they take place. And require, where appropriate, the use of appropriate technologies.

But reasons that are nothing new. From homing pigeons to the telephone to postal mail, from horses to planes, we have always sought to accelerate the speed at which we live and work. Customers have always wanted to be informed, to be heard and to obtain the quality of service they felt they had the right to expect. Companies have always sought to maximize the value created for the customer and ultimately for them by articulating a physical product and a service offering. We have always been aware of the value drawn from information, from “insight” and from the capacity to understand how the actors of a complex system are inter-influenced.

What changed everything was “digital”, or to be more precise the ability to exchange permanently, instantaneously, regardless of geographical location, following organized or informal flows, between individuals, individuals and machines and today between machines. Until our digital practices reached critical mass, the operating methods of yesteryear managed to withstand the shock of tinkering and improvisation. Reaching this critical mass was the “tipping point” that brought us to a world where our models had to be reinvented. Digital technology has enabled the acceleration, scaling up and multiplication of interactions which are – in part – a factor of complexity (not to be confused with the complication, which is the pure fruit of human “talent”).

What is new is ultimately not the trends but the triptych “speed, scale and complexity” made possible by digital. In a way, the current and future transformations will be digital if only because of their cause.

The primary purpose of digital transformation is not technology

Once the “why” question has been settled, let’s move on to the what. A logical parallelism of forms would require that a digital motif corresponds to a digital solution. If technology has taken us to the “other side” it should also help us move there. Which is, with hindsight, anything but obvious.

We have seen it with “social business” or “enterprise 2.0 ″ fashion. The technology best suited to a context does not necessarily make it possible on its own. Corporate social networks moribund or kept alive under artificial respiration, customer engagement devices causing backfire and misunderstandings, hesitant use of data that leads to user mistrust and mistrust … We have repeatedly had proof that the tool is only a tool and that badly used it only allows to do bad things … We spoke about speed and scale a little higher: badly used digital only allows to do bad things but faster and on a larger scale that if we didn’t use it.

It was not so much the digital that made us switch to the other side but the use we made of it. So the answer will come from the use of technology, not from the technology itself. This finding is disconcertingly banal if we do not draw the necessary conclusions: the use and the good use do not come from the envy and the good sense of the employees but from the individual and collective framework in which it takes place.

Misused digital is used to hurt as much as before but faster and on a large scale

To put it simply: a corporate social network will never solve the problem of the constrained allocation of resources, processes, decision-making methods and the absence of delegation. A Facebook page won’t be able to engage a community if your product or business is loathsome or uninviting for one reason or another. Big Data will be of no use to you if you are not able to take it into account at the decision-making level, if your employees have no autonomy vis-à-vis the customer. The most beautiful MOOC platform will not teach anyone anything if we do not ask ourselves the question of the learning process, its actors and the evolution of their roles.

What should we draw as a conclusion? Digital transformation is a matter of context, of framework. If individuals are massively adopting social media when its use is declining in business, there is a reason: it is a question of model and structure.. Having the right skills, the right organizational and management model, rethinking operations, activities and processes in the light of a new day. The tactical implementation may require technology, digital but the fund is elsewhere. Moreover, we can clearly see it in many companies which either have “digital” behavior without having the tools (or few) or those which easily take hold of the subject, in advance of phase. Digital is first of all a way of thinking about the company, its activity, its model of value creation before being technology. We do not transform to use tools but we use them because we have transformed. Or to be more precise we use them well, not in a forced and artificial way.

Digital transformation is partly made necessary by digital, but its starting point is human because the organizational and managerial model depends on people, on their vision of business. It is the framework and the new behaviors that give meaning to digital. In the same way that one of my former teachers told me that even with a suit and tie a pig was still a pig, a company that does not want to adapt to the rules of the game and a new context will continue to decline even though its bugdet IT would be endless.

We don’t transform to use tools but we use them because we have transformed

Digital transformation is above all human because it is people who use the tools, in a managerial and human context that they build according to the convictions of some of them. Its primary objective should not be to introduce technology into business and work, but to create a context giving it meaning to the extent that this context is legitimized by the reality of society and the market.

Digital transformation is not yet another way to overcome a reinvention of the company. It is primarily an HR subject above all else.

The digital transformation has only digital in its name and its cause. It is a very short transformation that will only be successful if led by individuals and the way in which they are brought to construct and organize work according to the context in which they operate. It is a matter of skills, posture, know-how / being, redesigning processes, redefining the role and posture of the manager.

The less we deal with technology in the digital transformation, the better we can take advantage of the available technology. The consumerization of the environment and work practices is now showing its limits: unlike consumer digital, the slow factor in corporate digital is not technology but people. And the human being is determined according to the framework in which it evolves and the challenges it imposes.

bertrand_duperrin-231x300Bertrand Duperrin is a 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.

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