In practice, the digital change is (unfortunately) often still seen as automating systems. Many consider the development of software and data to be the golden egg. This is a shame: generally, the processes and the mindset are what must change, if you want a digital change to proceed optimally. The most important players in these processes are, and remain, people, not the computers and software that these people support. Technology is a tool after all, not an objective in itself.
I have experienced many organisations inside and out in recent years. I have spoken with festival organisers, artists and their management. I have visited media companies, sport organisations, major retailers and fashion brands. What these people and companies have in common: my jaw drops in surprise every time. More than once I noticed that major databases were saved as Excel files on staff laptops. I saw that the marketing and sales managers designed their campaigns based on insights that were completely wrong. Not to mention complete content and data files that organisations thought they had, but these had simply disappeared or were stored at software suppliers, who, to make matters worse, would not hand these files over.
Organisations should consider the challenges and risks that they face in the rapidly evolving digital world when working on their activities and prospects. Experience has shown that organisations specifically run into the challenges below:
- The ability to retain the current (global) fans and followers, develop the fanbase further and increase the engagement with fans and followers via all digital channels;
- The ability to improve the content which is offered via the digital channels and increase the subscriber base;
- The ability to effectively generate revenue from interaction with the fans and followers via the content that they produce;
- The ability to develop the content in a cost-effective way and serve the digital channels in a profitable and safe manner;
- The ability to attract new sponsors and/or advertisers, retain current sponsors and/or advertisers and to show that their content will create value;
- The ability to identify new business opportunities for the digital channels and to seize them;
- Finally, the ability to compete with other organisations within and outside the sector, and with other media when it concerns the attention of fans and followers.
It is important to allow the transformation into a digitally mature company to occur in small steps. All too often transformations get bogged down by large-scale complex processes that are difficult to manage. The typical challenges then become major hurdles that an organisation has to take, and are then postponed. With the implementation of the desired change there have to be two points of departure: reducing the complexity and ‘the new simplicity’.
The current changes are driven by technology, that is for certain. But it is people that will make the difference, now and in the future. Digitisation demands a transformation of the organisation, the processes and the systems. But more than anything it demands a personal transformation: the mindset must change and the fear to lose what you have, without knowing what you will get, must be overcome.
Space and direction
Proper direction is an important success factor for organisations that decide to take on the digital change. Space and direction must be provided. Digital change will (preferably) impact making connections between clients, suppliers, partners and competitors; a basic need for virtually all companies. Let the organisation take on the responsibility for change, which reduces the complexity. Give it a framework that can be substantiated, allowing it to grow, optimise and accelerate. This makes change easier and more natural.
The fact is that transformation is about change. Whether it concerns a new way of operating, a new way of thinking and working or achieving a digital mission. Processes change due to this, information helps to make decisions and people are central in processes. Transforming into a digitally mature company or organisation stands or falls by being able to manage the change and acknowledging that this is where the largest challenges are. Never forget: change is not something that is received with open arms, unless the benefits are instantly clear. Digital transformation is and remains the work of human beings.
The digital transformation can be defined (I think) as follows: “The change that a company undergoes, where there is a desire among managers or business owners to create value thanks to the use of the digital ecosystem, where on the basis of set objectives the following goal is achieved, step by step, using analyses (and the subsequent insights): the optimisation of the organisation, the analogue and digital assets.”
How do you as an organisation get a grip on the digital change? How do you measure the change process? How do you create insight into the financial result? In this publication I will provide answers to these questions. Firstly, it is necessary to zoom in further on the term ‘assets’, so that it is clear that this consists of three elements in this publication.
Every digital ecosystem contains assets. According to the dictionary assets are: 1.) gift, ability 2.) power, strength; = capacity: ability to adjust, work capacity, perseverance, vision, endurance 3.) (accountancy) the total of the credit items on the balance sheet: own assets minus debts 4.) (in general) wealth, money, possession.
To be able to get started with the digital change, it is important to realise that this change is made up of three fundamental key elements. These are:
- Force: the quantifiable part of the own ecosystem within the digital ecosystem over time;
- Power: the ability to achieve goals and objectives with the own ecosystem;
- Potential: expressing the digital assets of an organisation or company and its own ecosystem in monetary terms.
Force, power and potential
Force is the physical quantity that can change an object’s shape or speed. A force can result in work being achieved. Forces can also be named after their cause or action. Force initially meant the physical (muscle power) or mental (mental power) prerequisite for certain actions. Later it also meant: carrying out the action, applying force. Or: force is the use of an asset. An organisation can also do this.
Someone’s power is the ability that that person has to (be able to) do something, within the possibilities available to them. The possibilities that there are, determine their power, or their abilities. Apart from possible limitations, someone’s will and their associated perseverance are crucial for the progress of their abilities. If someone does not want it enough, then nothing will happen or be achieved. Someone who does not push through, gives up and does not achieve their goals and objectives. The goals are not within their ability. This also applies to organisations.
Assets as potential in a financial sense. According to the traditional French theory on assets where assets were essentially connected to the individual. Assets characterised the relationship between people, and assets could be summarised by three phrases: only people have assets; every person has assets and every person has only one asset. Assets were described as a legal ‘totality of rights and liabilities of a person’ and was the property of the person. However, in a more modern view, this theory will not stand. People have come to the insight that assets can be connected to a purpose (therefore also an organisation or a company), and not necessarily to a person. In other words: every organisation has a certain potential, meaning: expressing the digital possessions of the relevant organisation or company in monetary terms.
A change in thinking
The technical implementation of new digital technologies is extremely important, but not critical for success. An important part of a successful change is about work carried out by humans. Transforming into a digitally driven organisation means a fundamental change in thinking, how to do business and organisation. It is a challenge to manage this, to supervise a transformation and get everyone on board in the change. It is essential to send people in the right direction in a smart, subtle way. You do not do this by control and management, but by providing direction and space to create space for innovation.
The incorrect application of technology can rapidly bring an entire organisation down. Technology does not necessarily create success, but the correct application of it does. Only use new technology when it is clear how it will strengthen the organisation. Organisations can and must be successful pioneers these days, but should do this while never forgetting their objectives. A pitfall is that technology becomes the leading factor, rather than the objectives.
Defining a new digital course and digital transformation is an adventurous process. The typical challenges have to be tackled. This demands trust from all parties involved. Are the right choices made? Does everyone support the plans and will they also participate? And what do external parties think of the transformation? Determining and implementing a digital strategy is only possible when external networks are also actively involved in this. It is essential to get everyone to move in the same direction if you want to get a digital transformation to succeed.
The new simplicity
The more data you connect with each other, the more becomes possible. Imagine that you combine data from various systems. Then amazing predictions will be possible. The new simplicity is about the integration of information originating from technologies and from various parties. Then you can lay an intelligent layer (such as a framework) over it, which makes the data and technology usable for users and processes, making the three key elements visible.
The application of new technology should lead to more efficient and effective processes, the development of new services and products, revenue growth and a value increase for every organisation. Are you as an organisation able to provide insight into the three key elements (force, power and potential) of assets using your framework, then the change process will be crystal clear for the people in an organisation: there is a clear direction for the change. The typical challenges will disappear like a shadow in the sunshine.
If the above succeeds, then you transform into a digital data-driven and mature company. Only then do you reach the status of digital maturity which at a later stage can be automatically controlled. Let’s get to it. To the new simplicity! The digital assets.
Author of Digital Assets
- This post is a pre-read of the second prologue of my new book ‘Digital Assets’ the translation of the Dutch publication ‘Digitaal Vermogen’.
- Also read the publication ‘EDM and the Digital Domain’