How companies can tackle digital transformation
Successful companies are digitised companies”: this statement appears to be becoming increasingly true, but it poses the question: where do you start?
Nicolas Fulpius, CDO, Swisscom Enterprise Customers,
Digitisation is on everyone’s lips – but it’s nothing new. What is new, however, is the speed with which it is affecting more and more areas of our lives, especially at work. It opens up countless opportunities to use connected technologies in our own value chain:
Anyone who thinks digitisation does not concern them is playing into the hands of their competitors, who are often from other sectors. A quick start is essential. But how? The high speed of digitisation makes it almost impossible to come up with reliable, one-size-fits-all forecasts. What we know today can be old hat by tomorrow. The high speed of digitisation makes it almost impossible to come up with reliable, one-size-fits-all forecasts. What we know today is old hat by tomorrow. Companies need to learn how to live with this uncertainty. At the centre is the question: how can digitisation be profitably integrated into a company’s own business model?
Although they are no recipe for success, here are three practical steps to get started:
Digitisation affects companies at every level and involves more than just IT. It therefore needs to be anchored in company strategy. Senior management decides which parts of the business are suitable for digital transformation, what should be digitised and in which order of priority. This requires courage: management must not cling onto past strategies and decisions, even if it means abandoning a project and starting again. In order to learn, you need a culture in which mistakes are considered normal and dealt with positively.
These days, it is virtually impossible for a company to continue working on a product until it is perfect. Instead of fiddling about for ages behind closed doors, it is better to use iterative methods and release beta versions, make constant improvements and establish interfaces with new technologies. Fast prototyping is a promising strategy, enabling customer or user feedback to be collated quickly, before it gets expensive. ‘Time to market’ is also considerably shorter with this approach.
Companies should involve their staff in digital transformation because it concerns everyone, trainees as much as board members. Companies wishing to access the full potential of digitisation would be well advised to educate their staff early on and take them with them through the transformation process. The high speed of digitisation and the associated iterative approach also require a complete rethink of the management system. Strict hierarchies and control systems do not work well, whereas agile organisations and network leadership are on the up.
After several years in private equity and venture capital, Nicolas Fulpius was appointed CEO of Veltigroup, which was bought by Swisscom in 2015. He became Chief Digitalization Officer at Swisscom Enterprise Customers in July 2015 and head of the Digital Enterprise Solutions department in June 2016. Nicolas Fulpius has an MBA from the University of St. Gallen and an MSc in engineering from Stanford University.
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