Cultivating a Digital Culture

Oct 23, 2020




A Guide to Cultivating a Digital Culture in Your Organization

I recently had the privilege of sharing the story of my quest for Digital Transformation glory to some senior level government personnel who had been identified as digital champions for various government agencies. This was in fact part of the federal government’s Digital Government Competency and Capability Readiness initiative.

It was clear as day to me that the need for a more agile and innovative government ecosystem is ever more important to deal with rapid changes in citizen expectation. In many ways, it is no different in the corporate world dealing with the evolving consumer behaviour and expectation. After all, we are primarily serving the millennials and generation Z, who account for almost 65% of the global population and demand for convenience, accessibility and smarter ways to transact.

Although I was tempted at first to share my views on the mega-trends and cutting-edge technologies shaping the industry, I eventually decided to share my experience in cultivating a digital culture in an organization.

In recent years many companies have started to embrace a digital culture in their workplace. We already know how important it is to develop the right corporate culture. This can define how efficiently your team works as a whole and what values your organization hold. Having an excellent culture is one of the defining features of a successful organization.

There are a few different types of corporate culture that you can implement in your organization. However, if you’re looking to bring about a digital transformation in your company culture, then this article is for you.

So, what exactly does digital culture mean?

Digital culture refers to an organization that transforms their corporate culture into one that incorporates technology into its aspects. Instead of merely adding a bit of technology into the workplace, this culture encourages staff to maximize their productivity by using digital means. When it is implemented well, a digital culture will help your company to become extremely efficient.

Why exactly is this culture important? Isn’t it enough to incorporate a few digital technologies into the workplace? A survey done by McKinsey Digital in 2017 demonstrates that one of the major barriers to digital technology in the workplace is culture. To ensure that your corporation maximizes its digital efficiency, you need to incorporate this into your organization.

How has Digital Culture evolved over the years?

Let’s take the customer experience industry as an example. The traditional contact centre, or what was perhaps commonly known as call centres, became popular in the 1990s. It was the ‘Landline Era’ where call centres mushroomed addressing only the basics. Although call centres aren’t exactly what you think of when you consider digital culture, this is where it started. Call centres then mainly provided a transaction-based service. There was not much variation in the customer service you could offer here; it was purely product or operations driven.

The Rise of the Internet Era between 2001 and 2009 saw the advent of ‘Internet Contact Centres’. The creation of the internet changed the face of digital culture completely. This enabled companies to offer Online Customer Service, which drastically improved customer satisfaction. It also opened up the possibility of multichannel customer service.

The Mobile Internet Era between 2010 and 2015 saw the rise of Omnichannel Service Centres. This type of customer service was a huge step-up from the multichannel systems of the previous era. It became possible to focus on optimizing the service to focus on creating positive customer relations. This was also the era when the e-commercialization of the corporate world started.

Today, in this Multimode Digitalization Era, we are beginning to see the rise of Intelligent Solutions Centres providing Best in Class Service Delivery. The advancements that technology has made in the past few decades have changed customer service drastically. Artificial intelligence is enabling chatbots to provide customers a personalized experience while also being effortless to implement. Process automation is making customer interactions much more seamless. These new cutting-edge technologies have opened the doors to many innovative opportunities. It allows companies to have a more proactive approach to customer experience.

The three stages of a Digital Journey.

It’s essential to realize all the steps that you will require to digitalize your culture. To simplify this process and make it easy to understand, I have broken it down into three steps. The three stages of a digital journey that you need to undergo to attain a digital culture are:

1. Digitization: Convert data into digital
The first stage you need to complete is to move all your data onto a digital platform. This step is also the easiest to do, although it’s not possible to move forward if you don’t complete this stage. We recommend working in small portions so it’s not overwhelming.

2. Digitalization: Digitalize your business
This is the stage where you start to integrate digital methods into your usual business processes. Use this step as a way to check how your team copes with the changes. For example, you can introduce a few different programs into one part of your company. Then ask your team for some feedback about these programs. Use this feedback to implement processes that work for your team.

3. Digital transformation: Change your model by incorporating digital
Now that you’ve finally changed all your business processes it’s time to begin the process of digital transformation. This step is the hardest one to do because it includes changing your entire business model. To digitalize your culture, you’ll need to make drastic changes in your customer service and your corporate culture. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of digital transformation is to facilitate an improved customer experience so remember to make changes in your corporate culture with this goal in mind.

How you can develop this digital culture in your organization?

If you want to bring about a digital transformation in your business, it’s imperative to take a step back and check if your company has the cultural and leadership readiness required for this change. To put it simply, you need to make sure that everyone on your team is ready for all the changes that will come.

A digital transformation will change how your organization works as a whole. If there are even a few people that aren’t on board to make this transformation a success, then it’s highly unlikely that your project will succeed.

How do you tell if your company has a team that’s ready for a change this drastic?

You will be able to figure this out by observing what your team considers most valuable. If your team has the following traits, then you know that they’re ready.

Firstly, your team has to be focused on ensuring that your clients get the best service. One of the main purposes of digital culture is to improve your customer’s experience. If your team doesn’t fully understand this, then you’re not going to have an easy time.

Secondly, you must look at the nature of your workplace environment. Your workplace needs to have an environment that promotes team building instead of competition. Digital transformation requires a good amount of teamwork. This won’t be possible in a competitive environment.

The last trait that you need to look for is if your staff has members that prefer taking action over planning. Employees that are ready to take the initiative will be a good fit in a digital culture. If you have a team with this trait, it will also be easier for you to transition into a digital culture.

Although it might seem like the primary goal of digital transformation is to make your business more technologically advanced, this is not the case. A digital culture values customer experience above all else. Technology is just a tool that can help to facilitate this. When you’re figuring out if your team is the right fit, it’s not vital to check how tech-savvy your team is. Instead, your main deciding criteria is to figure out how much your employees value customer experience.

Building Your Culture Around Digital Megatrends. 

You’ve now adequately analysed and have made sure everyone in the organization is on board with this transformation. You’re ready to move to the next step, but where do you start? I recommend that you look at the digital megatrends in your industry and build your culture around them. My previous article for example, looked at the megatrends reshaping the customer experience industry.

Although you’ll need to research which of these megatrends works best for you and your industry, here are a few that would probably be a part of your research. Three of the most valuable digital megatrends that have emerged in recent years are social media, cloud computing, and analytics.

Social media platforms have millions of users, and as more time goes on, this influence will only grow larger. If you use it well, it can drive collaboration between employees by strengthening the employer brand.

Cloud computing is a great way to work with individuals that you might not be able to meet with. Emails and chat apps can help you to gain remote access to talent pools from different countries. This also allows for a lot of mobility in the workplace as it’s possible to transfer data across continents without much trouble.

Analytics will give you the feedback you need to better your customer service. This data will help you to gain deeper insights into employee performances and behaviours. You can use this to learn exactly which areas you need to improve in.

These megatrends are redefining the way corporations all around the world conduct business. You will want to utilize these tactics to make your business as successful as possible.

A Few Tips to Ensure That You Have a High Digital Success Factor.

To have the most successful outcome in this endeavour, you need to keep digital transformation at the core of your organization. From my personal experience, compared to culture-building, the technological aspect of going digital is the easy bit. You may want to focus on changing the different aspects of your organization. Here are some of the changes that we made during our company’s digital transformation that might be helpful to you.

Our company started by revamping all our workspaces to fit the digital change. We let our employees create their digital studios. This gave them the ability to tailor their workspace; however they wanted to. One of the main goals that we had when we began this change was to promote more employee centricity. This is one of the reasons why we started our digital journey with this step.

Next, we changed our entire process to make the customer experience more personal. We wanted to provide the best customer service that was possible. So, we analysed our entire process completely and after making a lot of alterations, we ended up with a system that far surpassed our previous system. Remember that there’s no format that you have to stick to. Use this to your advantage to create a better customer experience.

Finally, we altered our recruitment process completely. We needed to change this process to enable us to build a team with more like-minded individuals. Don’t just pick digital talent with the right skills. Make sure that all the candidates are the right cultural fit for your company.

To make it easier to implement this change, here’s an example of an idea you can use. When our company started with digital transformation, we created a separate digital unit to develop digital services, then re-integrated that unit into the core business.

To unlock the true potential of digital transformation, it is necessary to bring about a digital culture that is employee-centric and value-focused.

Make It a Point to Enable a Digital Culture by Driving Employee Centricity.

Creating a digital culture is a massive task that will require you to revamp your system. This is why you need to focus on the employees. To enable employee centricity, you’ll want to engage and inspire the entire workforce while empowering them to drive the cultural change together.

This empowerment can happen by re-skilling your staff on trending digital skills, leveraging collaboration tools to improve productivity, using metrics to enable measurable value through key performance indicators (KPI’s), and adopting a systematic approach to drive this change.

One of the defining features of digital culture is that it improves customer engagement. Adopting the practice of digitalization can make employees more involved in customer service. This can enable customer-centric engagements and in creating better solutions relevant to their business needs.

I recommend making use of a transformation framework to monitor how much progress your company has made. Build this framework in a way that makes the employees the agents of change. Make use of the framework to bring in a work culture that empowers employees to make informed, context-aware decisions, focus on continuous improvement, and take calculated risks.

What You Can Do to Guarantee the Success of Digital Culture in Your Organization?

It’s not an easy task to change your entire corporate culture. To guarantee your success in this field, you must put in a lot of time and effort. Because of how hard it is to implement a digital transformation; it should come as no surprise that it’s easy to slip up now and again.

You’re bound to run into a few pitfalls along the way. For example, your team will take the time to learn how to incorporate this culture into their work. If you don’t take this factor into account, it will lead to your team getting overwhelmed by all the changes.  If you want to give your company the best chance at success, there are three main things that you need to keep in mind to avoid these pitfalls.

You need to start at the top first and make sure that the leader leads by example. Leaders must be at the forefront of this change. They should be able to set clear goals for the employees. The person-in- charge should also know how to pick out the essential characteristics of their preferred culture. They must encourage their team to stick to these characteristics. Leaders should also continuously assess the changes to identify any faults and fix them. If the person at the centre of the organization is not fully committed to the digitalization, then you can’t expect the transformation process to succeed.

Keep in mind that a new culture doesn’t mean that all old methods should be scrapped entirely. Don’t make the mistake of trying to replace every single aspect of your corporate culture with something new. Make use of all the best practices from the previous culture. You can start slowly by incorporating the new tactics with the old ones. The previous plan’s best culture practices can be blended with the current ones to create new employee behavioural patterns in a digital ecosystem.

Another thing that can lead to the downfall of this whole operation is if you try to rush the process. Before implementing this change, you must experiment to figure out what works for your company. Different teams will adapt differently to the changes. You will need to pay attention to how your team works and plan accordingly. Pilot programs are a great place to start when you’re enabling culture change. You can use these programs to elicit new behaviours from your team. You could start by focusing on one area first and see how the team deals with the new challenges. If the criteria are met, you can begin to implement this culture in other ways. Based on the success of the pilot, leaders can alter their transformation plan accordingly.

Hopefully, this guide has given you everything you need to know to implement a digital culture in your company. Keep in mind that this process is not going to be quick. Because of the nature of digital transformation, it will likely take your company a while to gradually incorporate these changes. In fact, in the initial stages, the results aren’t going to be very apparent. However, if you continue to stick to this path, then the long-term benefits are enormous.

Companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and IBM are well known for their innovation. They were able to disrupt the technology world through their widely acclaimed digitized cultures. One of the reasons they managed to become so successful is because they embraced digitalization. Your organization will need to make drastic changes to excel in this competitive digital age, so why not start now rather than later?

Raymond Devadass
23 October 2020

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