The six-step guide to a corporate digital mindsight

Make time for creative thinking, nurture the mindset, get comfortable with trial and error, create partnerships, inject new blood, and measure success

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 October, 2016, 3:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 October, 2016, 10:31pm

As the winds howl and rain pours down this week, with tropical cyclones Sarika and Haima packing a one-two punch as they blow through the region, we are perhaps all reminded of how we can better use technology and avoid a commute to work, restructuring our business operations and models to better leverage digital technologies.

China’s large base of digital users and high level of user savviness make it a nation poised for digital growth. Given the government’s supportive public policies to encourage more connectivity, working away from the office is likely to become more plausible.

As part of its 13th Five-Year Program, China plans to increase its fixed broadband penetration rate by 30 per cent and its mobile broadband penetration rate by 28 per cent by 2020.

The nation also plans to advance research on key technologies such as 5G and ultra-wideband, and to initiate the commercialization of 5G – all of which could make working remotely more likely.

While not all companies, or jobs, are designed for telecommuting, rainy days – or weeks – are definitely times to think about how businesses and workforces can be reinvented.

How much can be done by robots? Can we do a telepresence conference instead of hopping on a ‘plane, with all the time – and turbulence! – that can entail?

How can we work with other companies to integrate their digital solutions with our own operations, or develop new revenue streams by combining our strengths with those of new partners?

Millennials and digital natives, aka Generation Y (broadly agreed to have been born between 1980 and 2000), are entering the workforce expecting management to be thinking digitally, and for their experiences in the workplace to match their increasingly personalised digital experiences as consumers.

This includes flexible working environments, social collaboration and mobile performance support, as well as better work-stream analytics, and digital processes that facilitate more effective and efficient ways to structure working operations.

For the digital native this just makes sense – both in terms of how a company operates internally, and externally, with customers, partners and the broader ecosystem.

For the sceptics, consider this – transforming to a more digital business approach could have significant cost, growth and quality of work benefits.

However, achieving these benefits is no easy task. Here are six steps companies should take to adapt a more digital mindsight:

1. Ring-fence time for creative thinking: Organisations that want to break the mould of established structures and mind sets should provide time for brilliant thinkers from across the business to come together to introduce and explore new ideas. Define a clear goal to steer the process, which itself is disruptive.

2. Nurture a digital mindset: Digital culture starts at the top. True digital transformation on the inside (operations, culture, practises and workforce) and on the outside (company image and employee appeal) relies on the clear commitment and direction of leadership. Identify areas of investment, specifically around skills, talent and potential acquisitions.

3. Get comfortable with trial and error : Some initiatives will work, others won’t. Organisations need to aggressively experiment – and prepare for failure. Their survival depends on understanding what sticks in the market and learning quickly from what doesn’t.

4. Create digital partnerships: By joining forces – particularly with digital start-ups – organisations can draw upon one another’s expertise to create innovative or complementary products and services, and then extend these offerings to reach broader audiences and markets. Partnerships allow businesses to deliver new experiences and value.

5. Inject new blood: The advantage of hiring new talent into traditional businesses goes beyond bringing in practical skills and experience. People from outside the business or industry aren’t hindered by traditional legacy thinking, which may be hard to counteract in current staff.

6. Measure digital success: Identify the proportion of revenue and growth that is driven solely by digital. But don’t neglect measuring other tell-tale signs of an effective digital strategy, including faster product development and greater effectiveness at attracting digital talent.

Gianfranco Casati is Accenture’s global head of growth markets and Narry Singh is the global head of growth and strategy for Accenture Digital