We recently saw a cartoon that spurred some thoughts. It was this one:
As a business with a digital offer servicing traditional sectors, the message in this cartoon is completely relatable.
And yet, even with the wrecking ball that is COVID-19, we found that digital transformation is not something you can hammer into people (and organisations) and magically change their mindset.
We think this is largely because of the feeling of “disruption” that subtly accompanies the word “transformation” – and, in our experience, not everyone likes that. It’s not the digital transformation that scares people, it’s the implied fast pace and scale of change. Associations with urgency and disruption are counterproductive, especially for businesses operating in regulated environments.
A gentler and more collaborative approach is required to give people, who may not know anything about digital, peace of mind.
We’ve uncovered five common myths about digital transformation that are limiting the growth of businesses and we are here to debunk them.
And, just to be clear, when we say digitisation or digital transformation, we are referring to something much more than suddenly working from home over Zoom. We’re talking about businesses rethinking how they deliver value to their customers in a digital world.
Myth 1: Digital is just a trend that we have nothing to gain from
If your business and revenues are generally performing well, then you might be thinking there isn’t a good enough reason to change. That is the “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality and the result from that is business as usual.
However, being innovative isn’t always about fixing things that aren’t broken. Sometimes it’s about taking what you have to improve it, make it better and add value.
The benefits of digitisation are too lucrative to be taken lightly.
The deeper issue here – and we have certain media and consultants to thank for this – is that digital is often portrayed as something scary, big and disruptive, when it doesn’t have to be.
Take, for example, the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation. While its mission is to help businesses and leaders with digital transformation, the language it uses can be off-putting.
It has described digitisation as an “unstoppable mega-trend” that will influence the future building of society, and as “an industrial and social revolution”.
While this kind of language might be a simple case of over-enthusiasm, for businesses looking to step into a digital future, it can make the process seem overwhelming. And it also makes it seem like the returns and gains will come really quickly.
Instead, we advise our clients to think strategically about digitisation and treat it as an opportunity that can be harnessed and turned into a profitable asset for the business. In essence, this means digitisation is a marathon, not a sprint, at the end of which is a new and better way of delivering value to customers.
Myth 2: Digital transformation is all about the right tech
Of course, going digital relies on having the correct technology in place, but that’s just a small part of the overall process.
Let’s imagine you’re a food safety facility looking for ways to digitise your food testing and data entry. Some people may be afraid of being replaced by the technology. It is far more important to take into account the humanness of the situation and to recognise that any change to the status quo is scary for the people involved. There is a great book that explores some of these issues in more detail which we highly recommend, called Blue Ocean Shift.
Successful digital transformation can only be achieved if attitudes in the company are geared towards it, if the right organisational structures are put in place and if everyone in the business buys into the vision. People need to be open to learn new skills and be prepared to take on new roles.
Then it’s important to have the right technology that will make things easier and to educate on the benefits it will bring to the working process.
Money and resources spent on shiny new digital technology could be wasted if the same is not invested in your people. And, if you’re considering working with a digital partner, it’s essential that they understand the complexities of humans and build it into the solution.
Myth 3: It’s just too risky and expensive
Talk of digital transformation can conjure up thoughts of a risky, resource-intense and expensive exercise.
And while no transformative exercise is totally risk free or without cost – and you wouldn’t be in business if you weren’t prepared to take risks anyway – going digital doesn’t have to be so onerous.
Start small. Before you commit, make sure you’re getting all the information you need in plain, straightforward language that you understand. If a company throws a lot of jargon at you and makes things sound complicated, then they’re probably just interested in the business and not committed to making you successful.
This can really prolong the process, especially if you’re dealing with someone who’s not an expert in your field.
By the way, if you’re unsure about anything, you can always give us a call. We’re good listeners and we’re more than happy to give expert advice if it means more people take this journey.
On the technology side, try introducing digital to one product instead of your entire portfolio. The first initiative will always seem like a big investment. But the beauty of digital SaaS (Software as a Service) technology is that it is highly scalable and easily transferable, meaning that once you have it set up, you won’t have to build from the ground up for every project.
And finally, rather than looking at it as a one-off cost, consider it an investment in the business that can generate profitability.
The more undesirable scenario is not taking any action, as you may lose out on new, profitable opportunities.
Myth 4: Being first is worst
Not wanting to be an early adopter is a common trait among businesses. Why take risks when the rewards are not proven? Why not wait to see what others do first and learn from it?
Digitisation is not a new idea. Businesses that are digital natives, like Amazon and Netflix, have come to define their industries and reap the high rewards. But to be successful with digital, you don’t have to be an Amazon or a Netflix.
You can use digital in your sector in ways that generate you new market and revenue opportunities.
Demand is already high and it’s the end user groups that are driving it. In the field we work in – lateral flow – these are consumers, businesses and public health organisations.
Regulations and policies are being changed rapidly to gear towards the increasingly connected world we live in. So we advise our clients to take the leap now to capture a bigger slice of the market and avoid playing catch up later.
Myth 5: A digital solution will introduce more hassle and slow down regulatory approval and product commercialisation
The only time when this can be true is when you’re introducing the digital element after you have built your product. We always tell our clients in lateral flow to plan digital integration from the start of a new product development so everything can be seamlessly integrated.
When applying for approval, you’ll be asked to submit a design history file for your accompanying software / digital platform with all decisions and changes during development documented. If digital comes as an afterthought, it means you may have to start from scratch – or you may prefer to leverage it in your next project.
When the project has been appropriately scoped out and digital is integrated with the product from the beginning, this myth couldn’t be further from the truth. And to speed things up even more, you would benefit from a partner with the appropriate experience and expertise that can navigate your needs during the initial scoping phase.
Not a myth: Picking the right partner can help
The good news is you don’t have to go through digital transformation alone – collaboration can make the task much easier.
It goes without saying that your digital partner should, at the very minimum, be working in line with industry standards and software development best practice. Ideally, they’ll have all the certifications and accreditations, too.
But beyond this, they should have a real focus on excellence and a desire to create accessible, easy to use products that work for all intended user groups.
You want someone who knows and can navigate your space well, so you don’t have to explain things – which will ultimately save you time and help you hit the ground running when product development starts.
Our award-winning, purpose-built technology has helped lateral flow test developers across the world deliver new value to their customers with data and digital.
We leave you with this quote (from architect William McDonough):
”The stone age didn’t end because the world ran out of stones.”
So, if you have a question about how to get started with digital, give us a call. You do the science and we’ll do the data.