Digital Disruption : How to Walk the Talk?

‘Going Digital’, ‘Digital Disruption’ – every buzzword in the marketing dictionary today is about digital and social media. Jumping on the bandwagon is easy, steering it to a destination to meet your business objective is a completely different ball game altogether.

So how can businesses integrate digital into a way of thinking and doing things than just a buzzword? A lot of it is about mixing the old and the new and find a way that works for you. The following factors will play a key role in walking the talk:

1. People

All your amazing strategies, plans, process and best of intentions can go down the drain if the people in your organization do not believe in it. Employee buy-in into the new way of thinking is a key step to walking the talk in digital. It will also give the management a clear idea of the kind of people they need as part of their team to keep the company moving forward.

Employees on the other hand will do one of the following:

  1. Oppose : “But, this is not how we have been doing things!” or “We know what we are doing and it has been working.” Or “Why do we need this? We are doing fine.”
  2. Crib : “I need to do this as well?” “There is so much on my plate already. I can’t possibly be expected to learn to do this as well!” “There is no time!’
  3. Learn : “I didn’t know about this.” “Looks exciting. Something new to learn.” “I get training and develop a new skill set.”

The key here is to get them to be on ‘Team Learn’. Build, create and sustain enthusiasm in individuals for it to become a part of the company culture and DNA.

2. Bridging the thought gap

In any organization, there is a mix of the digital savvy and the traditionalists. The traditionalists have been around the organization for a long time. They have built the company and have fierce loyalty. They see it as a symbol of culture and part of what they help built. They have taken the decisions and seen it impact the business.  More often than not, it is the young, enthusiastic millennials who are the digital savvy. They understand technology and have a skill set that is crucial to the company’s future. But, they are also young and do not yet have the voice, authority or decision making capabilities in most organizations. Although, that is increasingly changing. This is where a lot of companies falter and lose the young talent that has the potential to grow the company. These young voices are either ignored, dismissed or not taken seriously because of the ‘age’ and ‘experience’ tag lacking in them. What the traditionalists need to understand is that the digital savvy young guns are hungry for opportunity and to prove themselves. Give them a chance and see how they turn things around. Let there be mutual learning and mentoring. Team up the traditionalists and the millennials to teams. The traditionalists can leverage their experience and act as mentors to help millennials develop their leadership and people skills. The millennials in turn can help them understand the new technology and new consumer perspectives that are impacting business. It’s a win-win.

3. Training and Skill Development

What is a digital? A simple question that can get you a zillion responses depending on which department of the company you come from. Training and certification in digital tools, understanding different technological products etc., are key to informed decision making. They also empower employees to do better. They use their skills to enhance the company’s profile. And again, digitally well-trained employees are your biggest brand ambassadors and assets for being digitally disruptive.

4. Build a culture of ideation & innovation

Strategy eats culture for breakfast. Build a digital culture that is inclusive and built on the foundation of knowledge sharing and ideas. Do not be afraid of making mistakes. Take risks and learn. Encourage employees to solve problems as well. Build a culture which is solution driven. Encourage people to not only identify problems but give them the power to come up with ideas to solve them. A culture like this is the biggest enabler of growth.

5. Listen

I should probably have put this one on top. Listen to your consumers, your employees. Know them, understand their perspective. Your digital strategy, products, communication, content – nothing will create an impact if it is not relevant to your target audience. Digital technology is merely an enabler and a tool. How we use the tool and steer your strategy to meet your business objective is all about intelligent use of information. What has changed through the years is how we listen. We use social media to know our consumers better. We have events to know them better. We use digital marketing for building engagement and relationships that are a value add.

6. #RethinkSuccess

We live in a different age of problem solving now – one enabled by technology but still driven by people. It is not just about profit-making but about creating a difference. PepsiCo had to adopt its ‘Performance with Purpose’ mantra to give employees a sense of ownership of being part of something that is truly creating a difference in the world. ‘Going Digital’ will not take a company anywhere if they do not inspire their stakeholders and give them a sense of purpose to drive that change. After all, the millennials are not just looking for a secure career. They are looking for a challenge and the chance to change the world. Companies need to#RethinkSuccess and find innovative solutions that can truly create a difference.

Let me know through comments on how you or your firm is doing things differently in digital.

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