Digital is Culture. Organizational Transformation is Digital.

“…digital is a culture; digital is information management; digital is courage.”

Digital & Technology

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” -Inigo Montoya/Princess Bride

Colleagues, let’s get something out of the way: Digital involves technology in some way, somehow — Please note, I didn’t say “computer.”

However, many of us — sometimes me included — have been using the word “Digital” to mean either: “Done on a Computer”, “Done on the Internet”, or “Social Media”; and some people use digital to mean “Digitized” — meaning automatic; this pretty much means everyone is using their own version of Digital and therefore, we’ve been using “digital” the wrong way. So hide from your supervisor for a moment and prepare for a ~longish!~ read.

So what is Digital?

“Digital is Culture, …[which] provides Immediate Satisfying Information [and interactions.]” — Albert W. Mowatt

First and foremost: digital is culture, digital is information management, digital is courage.

Or in Long Form: “Digital is Culture, focused on Positive Results and Useful Outcomes, which Aids & Delights those interacting; it provides Immediate and Satisfying Information, based on a Strategy of Minimal Interference with the medium used to Interact.”

  • Digital From the Customer’s View: A crafted solution, delivered with and through technology, which doesn’t interfere (with your day), which delights and gratifies.
  • Digital From the Organization’s View: A harmonized solution, delivered with and through technology, which enables the mission or strategy and delights the customer.
  • Digital Culture: A user-focused technology value solution, coordinated with the Organization’s strategy, which delights and gratifies the customer.

What does Digital Culture mean?

Everyone has a website, but whom does that website serve:

  • The Customers;
  • Bowsers for Information;
  • People looking for Careers;
  • The Staff that has to view it because IT made it the default home page?

How about using an example: Let’s say you sell Coffee (wholesale and retail), and the front page of your company’s website displays the beans, the sourcing, the roasting process, etc. Are you, or are you not “digial”? It’s not a trick question because, actually, I stipulate there needs to be more information:

Is the viewer of the website:

  • a Customer? A Farmer? A heavy coffee drinker? What is the target of the website landing page?
  • Is it the appropriate target backed up by data?

Let’s dive in (trust me, stick with me to the end): If I were a farmer and I want to know why my last shipment of beans was not invoiced, and upon getting to the website I see a “contact us page” and a “having trouble.” sourcing page that’s fine.. maybe. Let’s try something else.

  • What if upon login I was faced with a dashboard which showed me:
  • How many Pounds was shipped to the Company
  • The Company’s current inventory of my Coffee
  • How much used by the Company,
  • Project Time to Next Reordering based on Market Sale rates
  • Payments, and invoices
Digital Culture: A user-focused technology solution, coordinated by the entire Organization’s, which delights and gratifies the customer.

Let’s say it out loud “That would be awesome!” Now, what if that farmer could get that same information, click around with minimal keystrokes, on his phone, from his tractor, as he stopped to get a drink of water? Press a button and be connected to a customer service rep and his account is already loaded? And All of this was free?

Yup. Super Awesome. But a fancy website does not a digital strategy make; there has to be underlying plans and data to ensure the farmer sells to that company, and that she’s appropriately compensated. Basically a completly holistic, all inclusive, digital strategy.

But that’s just an example. How does one become digital now that we know what it means?

The Digital Experience After Transformation

CEOs and other senior leaders have to “reinvent themselves, otherwise, they are going to get reinvented by the market they are facing.” — Mike Useem

Digital Transformation means refocusing your thought & leadership, your organization’s culture, and the organization’s work product to focus on delighting the customer and producing products which speed and strengthen the interaction….a topic i’ll tackle another day. Still, you don’t have to take my word for it; some smart guys at McKinsey will explain the meaning of Digital.

To transform your organization into a Digital organization one must not only think about delivering delight, but must infuse this focus in the organization’s DNA, even as the organization’s products must conform to: On Demand Self Service, Elasticity, Scalability, Measured Consumption, Broad Network Access across devices, and (this is my own) More Accessible than any alternative.

The above Farmer interaction would be delightful to the farmer, but delivering such a “Digital Experience” to the farmer would require UX design, good contracts and accounts payable invoicing, grain RFID tracking; and on-demand programming team to respond to customer feedback, and a crack marketing team with good financial analysis and metrics.

The best question to therefore ask yourself isn’t — is your company ready, or can it do it; the better question is “Are you ready to be digital?”

A note of warning, however: It will take extreme strategic effort to separate Digital interactions from ordinary “Customer service.” For instance, Zappos will find a customer any shoes, even if they have to go to a competitor to find it. Using my example above, Zappos could create a website which also shows competitors prices and stock: But… That seems to lack business focus (not to mention dangerous to Zappos bottom line); however, there on Amazon, I can find links leading me off Amazon for the items I’m searching for that moment.

My Point? Two different companies, two different strategies for delighting the customer: One, exceptional customer service (Zappos), the other digital enablement of the customer (Amazon). The C-Suite should be the guard of digital strategy and follow closely digital implementation as to not scatter the organization.

Why? A company can fail to be a Digital Company even with some digital interaction. To continue with the above example, a company can fail to be digital if a customer who comes to the coffee website can’t figure out how to buy coffee (retail or wholesale) or investors can’t immediately know the stock symbol or read the Company’s 401K.

Still… the only way to truly be digital is to practice it every day…, not just to tweet about it… the below are some articles on the transformation meaning and how to be a change agent in leadership. But… at least we now know what digital means!

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Bibliography and Recommenced Other Readings