Realistically, digital transformation is an ongoing journey for a company – not a project you undertake and complete. On the contrary, companies benefit from the possibilities of digitization in different areas: communication, internal processes, and cooperation.
But also in further developing their products and services, addressing customers, collaborating with partners, and a better understanding of markets and customers – just a few examples. These advantages are not unlocked all at once but continuously. More and more aspects are added, each of which is penetrated more and more deeply.
The direction of this trip is clear, but the specific destination is uncertain. Intermediate goals that are achievable and bring the company forward only slowly appear on the horizon as we move along. It is foreseeable that the path of digital change will not always be comfortable and well-trodden but also difficult. However, the positive insight that travel is educational is just as correct and transferable to digital transformation. Experience can be built on, and the itinerary optimized. With each milestone, you can better plan for the next step and ensure you’re always moving in the right direction—without having the master plan in place from the start.
The change in the corporate world through digital technologies and solutions usually affects the entire company and is not a “one-man show.” Neither the management nor the IT department or strategic consultants will single-handedly devise a disruptive idea that will revolutionize the company and make it a digital champion. Although there may always be such cases, this remains the absolute exception.
Make The Change Positive
One challenge is to get all employees enthusiastic about the digitization journey and to set off together. Suppose the importance and seriousness are recognizable for everyone. In that case, the potential of every employee is activated and resistance to change is overcome; the entire organization moves slowly at first, then faster and faster. This path is continuous and sustainable and permanently integrates the topic of “digitization” into our own corporate culture.
Starting with simple things (an example of potential quick wins is the improvement of internal processes by digitizing them), experience and courage increase. This means that even larger steps – such as flanking your products with additional digital offers or digital interfaces to customers and partners – become realistic, plannable, and turnover tables. The digitization journey works best when everyone goes along with it. Slowly at first, then faster and faster.
Naturally, there is skepticism about changes, and in this respect, also about digitization initiatives in companies. On the other hand, this topic also permeates our private everyday life, so it is not uncommon for employees to have already overtaken their company. Regardless of whether it is shopping via Amazon, selling via eBay, booking accommodation via Airbnb, stock market transactions with an online broker, or exchanging ideas with friends via WhatsApp – many employees already use digital solutions and procedures in their private lives that can easily and advantageously have an impact on the future transfer company. In this respect, an important success factor is actively involving employees in designing the future digital journey and using their specialist knowledge.
Early Involvement Increases The Chances Of Success
“Someone did the math without the landlord” – this phrase symbolizes why only a minority of companies can speak of success when they evaluate their digital change. The international study “Soul Searching: True Transformations Start Within” by the management consultancy Bain & Company found that only twelve percent of companies fully complete their change programs.
According to the study makers, more than two-thirds fall short of expectations and only achieve mediocre results. Over 400 top managers worldwide who have recently extensively restructured their companies were interviewed for the study.
Why is it that the majority of companies miss their digital transformation goals? An important finding of the Bain study is that companies must involve employees at all levels in the change process. Company management should, therefore, not view employees as “herd cattle ” that can be driven in one direction or the other, depending on what the responsible transformation managers and consultants can think of at the moment. The study also shows that the time factor for acceptance and willingness to change plays an important role. Because with early and timely involvement, the chances of achieving the transformation goals double.
Without a doubt, every beginning is difficult: the more complex a matter is – and the journey into the digital future is a particularly complex matter – the more companies deal with themselves first. They first want to be able to assess what to expect and how they can deal with it and have to deal with changes. After all, the topic has what it takes to become a “disruptive wrecking ball.” It usually starts with the first working groups, the first digital lab sees the light of day, or you cooperate with a hip startup. Only then do most companies slowly push digital change into other areas of the company.
In this “project bubble,” however, exactly what the “Soul Searching” study describes often happens: companies overlook that involving employees from the start is a decisive factor for the success of the digitization journey. The company must show its employees why the conversion or change process is necessary and what it consists of. Because if you don’t (recognize) the meaning behind your actions, you won’t get into action either. Digitization is a social transformation – and it starts in mind.
Storytelling And Messages Instead Of Just Changing Facts
How can you inspire your team and activate the team members to follow the path and actively contribute to making the “Mission: Digital Change” a success? The right mindset and the right communication are crucial.
Because a company’s digital transformation is an ongoing journey, it requires a strategic communication approach that is both long-term and far-sighted, with which the company constantly accompanies its workforce on the joint digitalization journey. The content strategy needed for this defines the goals to be achieved with the content and provides an answer as to which channels, messages, and measures should be used to address employees.
The change story is important for communication and is created in content strategy development. It is the heart of change communication, to which all content is geared. It is the basis for strategic topic planning because it defines the topics and stories that will later be communicated. This “story-first” approach requires a mindset shift from channel to topic focus.
Since all areas of corporate communication (internal communication, public relations, marketing communication) are based on the same “basic story” with previously defined messages, communication with employees becomes more consistent because topics and stories are coordinated and generated across departments. With the change from channel to topic focus (“story first, channel second”), the company’s content organization requirements are changing. Topics and stories are initially planned channel-independently and are no longer owned by a single area. This requires a different form of collaboration on content and changed work processes, roles, and responsibilities – this is also part of the content strategy.