As businesses work to transform customer experiences and innovate their product and service lines, many are rightly identifying the need to overhaul internal procedures and operational processes too. Despite the pressure to embrace digital transformation and innovation, the reality of becoming a truly innovative and digital organisation appears to be harder to achieve than anticipated.

A recent study by Capgemini and digital analyst Brian Solis has revealed that inflexible corporate cultures are holding organisations back. In addition, the survey reveals a significant gap in perceptions between senior leadership teams and employees.

Of the 1,700 respondents across 340 organisations in eight different countries, 62% view corporate culture as the biggest hurdle to overcome in the process of organisational digitisation. However, whilst 40% of senior-level executives consider their firms to have a digital culture, only 27% of the employees hold the same view.

So how can businesses tackle this lag in perceptions, and refresh their corporate culture?

Avoid innovation in silos

We're seeing more interest in building innovation teams, projects and labs in big businesses. While this is a positive shift on the whole, such projects and investments tend to place innovation in silos, and therefore fail to foster real change in the business.

Successful digital transformation isn't the result of a one-off investment or project, and cannot be relegated to a specific digital or innovation team. Achieving digital transformation requires buy-in from the entire organisation, as digital enablement, customer centricity and innovative thinking must infiltrate all parts of the business. So instead of defining participants in an innovation or transformation agenda, business leaders should be seeking to identify (and rectify) who in the business isn't on-board with the desired evolution.

Champion transformation and CX from the top

It's likely that changes to the structure of the senior leadership team will need to occur. To ensure a business is able to fully embrace innovative thinking and digital change, the right leaders need to be there to oversee the transformation. For some businesses, this means appointing a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) to champion user experience from the top down. For others, there's a need to counter an internally-focused, risk averse CIO with someone who will drive technical innovation and agility.


Shift culture to drive transformation

A common trap business leaders fall into is the belief that digital transformation is a technology-driven effort. Rather than focusing on the technology aspect itself, senior leaders need to consider broader changes to business processes, structures and perhaps most importantly - people.

A starting point could be to review all job descriptions for new hires and make adjustments to include the ability to adopt new ideas, skills in capitalising on upcoming trends and lateral thinking. Shifts in hiring processes can then be aligned with existing employee development and training programmes to empower current staff to fill skills gaps that are integral to digital change and innovative thinking.

Therefore, whilst digital transformation undoubtedly involves technological change, it requires a more fundamental shift to the business to ensure the right structure, skills, people and processes are in place to support it.

Originally written by Hatchd Director Kristen Vang for IT Brief Australia.

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