During our research to create this article we have been surprised again and again how difficult it is for many small and large businesses to understand the digital transformation as a whole; it would seem that the paradigm exceeded its capacity; They believe that this whole revolution is just about having a presence on social networks or updating your website, when it is not.

We must have a vision about how different our client behaves today compared to before … and act accordingly.

Updating our business model to a digital approach implies understanding what is happening out there, what the trends are, what has changed and why it has been done; and after that, understand how our customers can digitally relate to our business. If we do not assimilate this clearly, we are obsolete today … although bankruptcy still takes some time to arrive. Why? Because a lot of our competitors already work in a digital paradigm; and of course, it’s a truth that we do not like to hear, and that’s why we always run away from it.

Brian Solis is one of the most recognized authors of the digital social phenomenon, lecturer and principal analyst of the Altimeter Group. In 2015 he spoke in Stockholm during the Telia Executive Summit. After the session, he met Joakim Jansson, who by then was writing his book The Digital Transformation; Joakim interviewed him about the evolution and the landscape of digital business in the world. The book is already available (in Swedish) and includes the interview with Brian Solis, but if you are not from the Scandinavia, don’t worry we bring it to you so that you can enjoy it and have a current focus on the digital world.

How is digital transformation defined?

Solis: We know that digital transformation means different things for different people and organizations, but in general, it’s about adapting to be relevant to your customers and a leader in the digital economy. What we have discovered in Altimeter is reduced to:

“It is the realignment or the new investment in technology and business models to achieve better engagement with digital customers at each point of contact throughout their experience.”

What do the companies that are successful in the digital transformation have in common?

Solis: There are three things.

First of all, they have a clear vision of what digital transformation will achieve and why it is important for your company, customers and employees. It is also essential to get the proper management to support and lead that transformation with a vision that engenders a sense of urgency.

Secondly, it is important to understand the experience of the digital client and map their journey. This is done through research, not guessing. Knowledge of expectations and digital behavior of customers at all points of contact with the company is crucial.

Third, digital transformation equipment is needed. It must be composed of people from different departments and with different roles within the organization. Marketing must be part of the team. The role of the team is to facilitate the transformation, monitor and measure progress, keep management informed and support the process.

If you can not get the CEO or other key people aligned, what should you do?

Solis: This is the million dollar question. Basically, there are two answers.

Number one, make sure you do everything possible to create a sense of urgency and get the key people on board. However, if this does not work … they must be replaced.

You talk about the importance of having a digital transformation team, for how long should this team be in its place?

Solis: They should be there as long as necessary to conduct the transformation as it should. When the existing organization is in charge of the transformation by itself, the team can be eliminated or changed into an innovation team.

Why is mapping the day or the trip of the client so important?

Solis: We must have a vision about the client … and how different now behaves compared to before. His act is very different from the beliefs of the vast majority of people. Developing a clear vision of that helps create a sense of urgency and the energy needed to bring about change in the company.

It is important to understand that there are two types of mapping the client’s trip to our product or service. First one deals with understanding the day of the clients through the digital and physical contact points. This is often based on research. The second is more in-depth and has a more anthropological approach, based on the current behavior of the digital client and the prevailing trends. The two different approaches work best in combination.

Are there some capabilities or traits that are particularly important when the company is in the midst of a digital transformation?

Solis: Empathy and humility. The digital transformation is very much about people, and it is very important to listen to them and understand them. The digital transformation is also very complex so being humble when things do not go as expected is a necessity.

What would you like to convey to companies that are about to launch their digital transformation initiative?

Solis:

  • Number one. Dare to challenge existing solutions, ask yourself why they do what they do.
  • Number two. Build a culture that rewards those who dare to try new things.
  • Number Three. Identify the main purpose. An idea or a corporation can and should always have a higher purpose. Make sure you find it.
  • Number four. If they had to start today, without their history and heritage, what would they do then? Try to imagine how they would act and approach the market if they were beginners.
  • Number five. Keep in mind that innovation can be learned. It will not always come naturally, and that’s fine.

So here’s the interview and the focus today … what do you think? Is your company having problems adapting to the new digital times? Is your director up to the challenge? Tell us; we love reading you.