Has digital disruption killed innovation?


Has digital disruption killed innovation?

The majority of senior execs expect moderate or massive digital disruption in the coming 12 months according to a study recently published in HBR. The disruption is mainly driven by ‘customer first’ businesses that have a start-up mentality and understand how to leverage technology to develop superior products and customer experiences. But companies need to radically change the way they think about digital to survive in this fast paced environment and become much more customer-centric, agile and – as a result – innovative.

But what does digital transformation actually mean?

There is a fundamental lack of understanding of the term ‘digital transformation’, especially at the senior executive level. Since senior executives are often unclear what the term ‘digital transformation’ means, and are concerned about admitting they don’t fully understand the issue, they are unable to correctly articulate the challenges their business is facing and define solutions.

In fact, a recent survey by AVADO revealed that while 84 per cent of senior leaders say they are expected to play a role in the digital skills transformation, only 20 per cent know how to get started.

It is therefore important to develop a framework for auditing digital capability that helps companies to evaluate skills gaps and establish benchmarks.

Act like an agile start-up

Rather than thinking of digital as a channel or way of engagement, businesses should think of it as a way of operating. This mind-set needs to pervade the company, from the CEO to the CFO to the COO and beyond.

Driving change can seem like a lengthy and challenging task. However, often there are small wins that can be achieved quickly. Below are five elements worth thinking about when starting to think about digital transformation

1. Tap into peer experience

Knowing that you need to do something ‘digital’ is easy. Understanding what you need to do is harder. We see that there’s tremendous value in bringing in an expert or company that has walked this path before and can help companies’ articulate challenges and evaluate their digital capabilities.

2. Don’t throw out your culture

Thinking digitally needs to evolve from existing culture in the workplace.  The things that are already great about your current workforce’s mindset will help this succeed and drive digital.

3. Think and behave agile

In order to adapt more quickly, individuals and teams need to know how to do things differently. This often means to ‘unlearn’ the way things have been done and develop a new mind-set rather than acquiring specific skills.

4. Build capability at all levels

Successful organisations never stop learning. At senior executive level learning is often done as a collaborative, peer-to-peer approach. Today’s leaders are facing challenges that have no solution blueprint. At more junior levels, deepening specific skills ensures effective execution while mid-level managers need to understand the broad digital context.

5. Data is king but failing fast drives innovation

Good data analysis leads to strong business insight and actionable conclusions. It allows organisations to rapidly adapt to customer’s behavior changes. However, taking a leap of faith without having data to back it up is still required to drive true innovation.

By Michael Curry, Co-Founder of AVADO.