Tjaard du Plessis is the Head of Digital and Emerging Technology at Synthesis
As the world adapts to the realities of Covid-19, industries and businesses need to have a firm grasp on digital transformation in order to compete. Not only does it exist to solve business problems, eliminating complexity through technology but also to remove unnecessary manual work, saving time and money.
The term digital transformation is often misused, in a nutshell it is an organisation’s capacity to embrace emerging technology. It is not only about new tech, such as transforming existing infrastructure and software. It is also about customer experiences, products and even company culture, as a whole. What’s more it isn’t something you do once, rather it’s how you transform your business to a digital one, once and for all. One that digitally transforms continuously.
Digital transformation is a crucial requirement for any organisation to remain competitive. Technology, adopted in the right way, will improve any business, but what’s more, whether you embrace it or not, it will affect your company. As we’ve seen over and over again, technology enables a garage startup to disrupt your business.
What’s required to truly transform
The first step is to map out where you are and where you want to go. Scrutiny is key and organisations need to examine their company culture, incentives, and processes, in order to set it up for change. Employees are crucial to the transformation journey; without bringing them along, you are setting them up to remain stagnant and resist.
Unpacking the challenges faced by companies
Change and disruption – while necessary, are not always easy. Often employees fear change, and bureaucracy and governance are frequently set up in a way that blocks change. This needs to be addressed as these challenges are not conducive to the rapid change that is required.
Skills, training and acquiring and retaining talent with relevant experience is another common obstacle. Add to that, the budget required for true digital transformation. The capital outlay is often misunderstood by shareholders making it a tough line item to properly budget for and get board buy-in.
In my role, which is largely focused on helping large companies navigate their transformation journey, I have found that those that succeed, keep it simple, and find creative ways to navigate bureaucracy from the outset.
Where tech meets creativity
My technical background and experience in delivering software for large enterprises have led me to believe that technology isn’t engineering, it’s creative. Therefore you need to manage it like you would a creative process, not an engineering process. Creativity and vision for reinventing the old is key to my role and this ensures that I design experiments and manage them in a way to find novel solutions. Innovation is like growing a tree, you can’t predict what it would look like, but you can nurture it to blossom.
Without emerging technology, organisations will simply not survive. Technology will disrupt every business – none will escape it. And mostly it will appear from left field and without warning. Be part of the wave or be swept aside by it – there is no middle ground.