1 – Towards the digital age organisation
Welcome to the first of nine posts focusing on business in the digital age. Specifically I will address both the challenge and how we respond.
Today, in many respects we have returned to our prehistoric roots. Predators are not just taking out companies, but whole industries.
Life is increasingly tough on the digital savanna. A place where Amazon is both predator and prey.
Most organisational leaders have a strong sense that the world is changing. They know that ‘digital’, whatever that is exactly, has a role to play. But they do not know how to respond to these changes. This post is the first in a series of nine posts to empower you and your organisation to thrive on the digital savanna.
The old certainties of the industrial age are gone. Past success is no longer an indicator of future success. Individually, the market no longer values experience, it simply values value. No matter how vigorously you polish your (factory) processes, you cannot ‘lean’/cost manage your way out of a situation where your primary and prized offering is now available via a 99 cent app.
The traditional approach of strategic planning is no longer applicable in a world that is less Henry Ford and more fighter pilot dog fight.
Creativity and innovation are more important than ever. As is the smart use of data and emerging technologies. But keep in mind, as you will see, digital and new technologies are not synonymous.
New technologies are not only enhancing organisation performance, they are augmenting people too. Mobile phones are just one example. Artificial intelligence will over the next few years enable us to conduct our work and life at ever increasing levels of productivity. And new technology augmentation is only part of the story. Biological augmentation is hot on the heels of new technology. If you are wearing a health tracker of some sort, you have taken a step towards biological augmentation, albeit in a basic non-invasive form.
But we need to be aware that if we are to be considered as talent in the digital age, we need to have capabilities that enable us to deliver market-pleasing value at a level superior to the latest AI / algorithmic / robotic technology. If a robot can do your job, it will do your job. And this is not solely a concern for blue collar workers.
If you don’t see yourself as an artist you need to have a firm conversation with yourself. Creative talent is where the demand lies. Your ability to turn cognitive capacity into innovative customer experiences that either command a high margin or high market share, or both, will be you primary value proposition, whether you are the talent or the talented leader.
What will separate the good from the great will be factors such as rate of innovation, number of live experiments and failure velocity (think Edison not Lehman Brothers). Performance is everything.
But smartness and adaptability will always trump hard work and a polished factory.
In the course of this series, we will:
- Discover a business model that can be used to evolve our existing outfit into an organisation fit for the digital age.
- Learn how smart organisations focus on building assets, rather than simply making a profit.
- Understand that by harnessing our human nature, we can create better businesses for all stakeholders.
- Appreciate why building your business around tribal success factors enhances your chances of success.
- Uncover a set of execution steps to enable you and your organisation to embark on its digital journey.
- Recognise the importance of getting your people on board, along with how to do just that.
- Acknowledge that the changing nature of work / jobs / careers is such that the digital age will not be suited to those who enjoy the comfort of conveyor belt certainty.
- Identify the seven realities of digital transformation.
Remember a digital age organisation is not simply a digitised organisation, though digitisation is part of the solution. The goal is to create an organisation that can thrive in the digital age.
By way of teasing, that requires a polymodal approach.
Business and society will become increasingly entwined as we enter the digital age, so digital age organisations need to think beyond making their shareholders rich. People increasingly need to work for organisations that have a greater purpose. Perhaps ironically the digital age is really the human age. A time when we return to our true hunter gatherer nature. Albeit this time around augmented with new technology. Perhaps this is the dawn of the digital hunter gatherer?
In any case, it is likely that you and your organisation will need to evolve to stay in play in the digital age. The aim of this series of posts is to support you in that objective.