A digital transformation to prepare your organisation for the future


Digital Transformation - Jo CaudronAre you in the board of your organisation? Take a look to your left & right. Do you think there’s enough digital savviness to survive the coming years? Jo Caudron explains with seven metaphors why it’s important to join the digital transformation and gives five tips to get your started today. You can read more in his new book “Digital transformation – Bereid je organisatie voor op de toekomst”.

Digital pioneer, Jo Caudron, founder of DearMedia, explained in his keynote “Digital transformation” about how organizations can prepare themselves for the (digital) future.

Jo uses seven metaphors to explain why times are changing:

  1. The glass house – Everything nowadays is transparent due to social media. The cameras are always close, everything is recorded and can go viral very ast. There no room anymore for organizations that aren’t transparent.
  2. The package – Everything used to be bundled in one package, but now we see vertical bundles. For example the CoolBlue online shop has a shop for almost everything: PDA’s, laptops, cameras, …, pepper & salt devices. The limitations of the physical world do not exist in the digital world, so you need to think different. Your challengers are not attacking your business as a whole, but take small parts of your cookie each time. The challengers can do this because they specialize in one area and easily outperform the larger organisations. They also have the advantage that they don’t drag along their legacy and can scale very fast.
  3. The frog in the boiling water – Challengers can take the opportunity to bypass the well-established organizations which aren’t aware of the changing conditions or are not dealing with it. For example, Ikea started offering insurances. Another example is Google laying the foundation for its own Internet so it can bypass the established organizations in the telecom sector.
  4. The gatekeeper – In an organization, traditionally there were only a few important people who act as gatekeepers. Today this role is no longer important: there’s crowd sourcing and experts can decide to start on their own. For example, financial bloggers that leave their organization to give independent advice.
  5. The traveller – Today we have all techniques in the back of our pocket. The digital and physical world meet via the mobile device in our hand. Everything that used to be physical, can be done digital today.
  6. The participant – The sharing economy is growing in importance. We see initiatives as peer-to-peer lending clubs, car sharing, etc. Is your organization joining the sharing economy, or still in resistance to it (cfr. Uber and AirBnb)?
  7. The cyborgYou ain’t seen nothing yet: there’s more to come in our digital revolution. Think of the possibilities of the current Big Data hype and the unleashed potential of robotics.

To survive the digital transformation as organisation, Jo advises five steps:

  1. Create a clear transformational strategy – Understand, analyse, create a vision and a roadmap.
  2. Create digital leadership – Is your current management digital savvy? Create a “Digital CEO” position in your board.
  3. Innovate in the right places – There are different types of innovation: incremental, disruptive and sandbox. Know which to use when.
  4. Build the transformational fleet – Your organization might be a big tanker that’s very slow to change direction. Make it possible for little speedboats to discover new territory at their own pace.
  5. Change the culture – There’s a new customer with new demands, living in an ever-changing world of uncertainty. You need an agile and flexible organization to survive. Don’t be afraid to cannibalize your own business, if you don’t, some challenger will.

The session of Jo was inspiring and fits with the message his colleagues, Steven Van Belleghem and Peter Hinssen, are spreading. On the other hand, I do have to admit that sometimes I wonder if listening to them is the same as listing to a doomsday prophet a few hundred years ago. The message is quite negative: change or you won’t survive, but maybe this is the right message at the time?

Additional reading

Jo Caudron has published a new book on the subject “Digital transformation – Bereid je organisatie voor op de toekomst” which can be bought at Lannoo:

“Digital transformation – Bereid je organisatie voor op de toekomst”

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