There has never been a better time for digital transformation. Eight tips to thrive on it, kick-start the post-pandemic economy and make the world a better place.
This pandemic caught the world in the middle of a full-fledged 4th industrial revolution. A unique mix of converging or coinciding technological breakthroughs from quantum computing to new generation robotics, quantum physics, biotechnology, hyper connectivity, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
Many of us did not even realize this. Those who did, were involved in some way or another in leading it, and many felt somehow disrupted. The truth is Covid-19 came to accelerate digital transformation. There has never been a better time for it, and here’s how to join the leaders, capitalize it, but most importantly, kick-start economies and help make the world a better place.
Digital transformation: how to thrive in a post-Covid era
1. Think big! Aim to change the very essence of what and how things are done in the entire business
Often confused with growing online sales, or implementing a new IT platform, digital transformation in this 4th industrial revolution is about reinventing the very essence of a business.
From online sales, marketplaces, the cloud, automation, data, customer behaviour, empowering your staff with mobile devices or tracking your fleet, new generation robots, personalized assistants, artificial intelligence, or even leveraging the full power of the new generation of sensors, given a smart and connected life in the Internet of Things (IOT), or simply about embracing new business models of the Sharing Economy. All businesses, in all sectors must see it. If you don’t see this, that’s ok, ask for help!
If you are still not convinced, look Scott and Nick, who increased their revenue by 30% by using smart cameras on their dumpsters pick-up business.
2. It is a one-way journey, all hands on deck! Call everyone in, inspire and recruit them all – Go!
If there is anything this pandemic has shown us, is that when we are pressed, we all acquire new skills and new tech very rapidly. Also, that we can all get together to help out, and it actually makes us feel better.
Thinking big here means getting everyone aboard this amazing one-way journey. Yes. More than the destination it will be a never ending journey of permanent discovery. The exercise is not: break solid state A, and transform into solid state B. It is about once and for all melting the solid state into a permanently liquid state that naturally adapts into whatever shape and form the future brings. Or, rather, into whatever you make of your future.
More than the destination it will be a never ending journey of permanent discovery.
So, build up to this with an inspiring moment and plenty of training streams, to communicate your vision and recruit everyone from the security guards, to the maintenance guys, the engineers, the managers, the assistants… everyone! Show them the new world, what cool things can be done with tech, and how everyone must pitch in.
3. Being behind is a great opportunity to take the lead
Even undisputed leaders feel they are behind their future selves. One of the great things about tech or data is that it mostly happens in exponential curves of growth and adoption. Having no, or disposable legacy is a luxury.
Make the most of this, set a high bar at taking the lead, not at catching up. Adopting new technology later, is not ideal, but it is powerful, especially when that technology is in exponential progress. We live times when the bottleneck is more often the ambition or lack of tech acumen of leaders, than the limitations of tech itself. So, you will be surprised how much you can achieve by setting a high bar. Just be ‘careful’ what you wish for, because it is probably going to happen!
My time at Google showed me that we can achieve most things we set out to do. Setting quarterly OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), and living a permanent “great is not good enough”, in a state of uncomfortable excitement, brought people together to achieve great things time and time again.
4. We are creatures of habits, that’s ok, so long as experimenting is one of them
Humans are creatures of habits. This is often used to explain resistance to change. The challenge here is creating the new habits that genuinely make life better. We tend to adopt these habits more rapidly and irreversibly. Creating a culture of restless experimentation with method is easier than it seems. The biggest barrier to this is fear of failure and the connotation of failure with professional ineptitude.
Set relentless goals for widespread always on experimentation. In a data rich, analytics abundant world with fantastic visualisation tools, machine learning, artificial intelligence, add transparency and the result of all activity can be seen by everyone. Experiments with control groups, or specific variables and specific goals produce outputs that are beyond the binary “make it or break it”, onto “learn and iterate”. Add psychological comfort for the teams and this will be your future permanent liquid winning learning state.
5. Data driven gets results, empowers people, enhances humanity, embraces diversity
My pilot training showed me in an emphatic way, that making decisions based on data consistently is crucial. A typical exercise instructors use is to ask you to close your eyes and brace, then put the aircraft in an abnormal attitude (typically close to upside down), ask you what is happening, before allowing you to open your eyes and humiliate you with the fact that you were upside down without realizing it. So, it doesn’t matter what you see or hear, follow your instruments, and you will navigate chaos.
To improve results, incorporate the learnings, and get more or improved instruments. Data is stronger than our gut. Humans are more limited than they think in identifying patterns within the complexity of numbers, of events, or data. Some know this, others let their ego stand in their way. Thankfully today’s data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence tool suites are fantastic.
My pilot training showed me in an emphatic way, that making decisions based on data consistently is crucial.
The three main Clouds offer them. Pick one, and use it to its full extent, hire professionals, team up with partners, train the leaders and all the teams. Get your instruments right! Surprisingly, life becomes so much more fun, more inclusive and fair. It doesn’t matter what people look like, their gender, or their background, because doing the right thing, getting results, is seen by all. Success and recognition then becomes a very natural consequence.
6. Build for diversity of people, skills and backgrounds
Embrace a #diversity of backgrounds. Maximizing the range of angles and approaches to problem-solving is crucial. This includes a multigenerational and diverse workforce in every sense.
Hire for a multitude of educational, cultural and geographical backgrounds. It is not a question of tolerance, or quotas. Genuinely reflecting the outside world in your business is key to thrive in it. Therefore, it is simply in everyone’s best interest.
7. Startups are here to help. Collaborate and thrive or be replaced…
Speaking of digital transformation, startups are a great source of talent and ideas. So, find a way to engage. Many Unicorns had no choice but to succeed by disrupting entire sectors in order to survive. Engage with venture capitalists, find the startups working on cool stuff, bring them to your team, your board, your CEOs. Worst case scenario is a set of fascinating conversations where all parties learn.
Do this every month, and eventually you will find great opportunities to collaborate and innovate. You will begin, as I did, by piloting new crazy projects. Before you know it, you will have become part of a unique and powerful ecosystem that can change the world. Another angle: startups don’t have to disrupt you, they want to help. You can help build the next few Unicorns, and thrive from there. Take your pick.
8. The “crazy” who think they can change the world, are normally the ones who can
This one speaks for itself. RIP and thank you, Steve Jobs.