With digital transformation gathering pace, strategic business change is required on many levels. Yet, a good deal of companies is still not ready for it, even though it enhances optimisation that unlocks savings and boosts the organisation’s development. It is also inevitable.
Having an online presence is not enough. According to a survey by KPMG, conducted in partnership with Microsoft, while 51% of companies in Poland recognise the urgency of digital transformation in their organisations, the majority do not plan to increase their investment into it or hire digital transformation specialists in the coming months. The period of the pandemic and the war raises the question of whether there was any way we could have prepared for it. In many cases, probably yes, but change is what we as humans do not want, so it has progressed rather slowly. Until it didn’t.
Transformation requires redefining strategy, changing business processes and the way we work, creating new channels to interact with audiences and learning how to use them. We asked experts from the consulting and pharmaceutical industries about the three most important areas of business transformation.
Transformation of a management style
Let’s start with the role of the manager. Remote and hybrid working models have led to greater acceptance of cross-border work. This, in turn, enabled the internationalisation of work and, consequently, the emergence of different cultures and working styles across teams. What is, therefore, needed are the right competencies to manage teams and, above all, projects – as in the Agile methodology, where the emphasis is on self-organisation, flexibility in approaching change and adaptability. In this set-up, the CEO ceases to act as a tsar and takes on a role of, for example, a member of a project team, not necessarily a leader.
Implementing a transformation strategy is a long-term project, so it becomes crucial for the process participants to get involved. It is important that they feel motivated and see a common goal, while remaining ready for any modifications that may come along the way. The introduction of changes does not go through a testing phase, but, with the support of new technologies, is based on advanced data that provides ongoing prompts and allows for immediate reaction.
Digitalisation puts an end to the step-by-step philosophy and requires all to accept working in volatile conditions. Managers need to be agile, and this demands continuous insight. For this reason, companies are more willing to implement off-the-shelf systems and cloud solutions instead of developing their own. This substantially expedites the implementation process and mitigates problems with the availability of individual components and specialists (bear in mind the weeks-long delays during the Covid-19 period), but also entails changes in key competences. It is already apparent that, more than programmers, we will need analysts and effective change managers.
A multidisciplinary approach also opens companies up to professionals from outside the field. Since we know the operating principles and tools, transferring to other sectors is no longer a problem. This is a new perspective, though not feasible in all cases. One such example is the pharmaceutical sector, which, experts say, remains available to a limited circle of people who have the right ‘feeling’ and know the ins and outs of the healthcare industry.
Transformation of a business model
It used to be simple. A sales person was once armed with a single sales monitoring system. Now their phones have apps with advanced algorithms that will tell them where to go for a meeting, how to lead a conversation – which they are often free to have remotely – to reach their target. Technology has equipped us with knowledge that substantially adds to work efficiency, and the pandemic has opened us up to online meetings. Just imagine if, instead of one in-patient visit, even several virtual ones could be carried out. Although doctor’s appointments as well as school teaching had the groundwork laid in terms of technology, a major turning point was necessary so that people would welcome the change.
In the healthcare industry, completely new treatment possibilities have emerged. Today, patients’ health can be monitored by the doctor remotely via an app, or through augmented VR, and counselling is given in the form of video instructions. This might reduce the number of hospital admissions, solve the problem of doctors’ availability or long waiting times for medical appointments.
Cloud solutions, machine learning or artificial intelligence are taking us to a whole new digital reality that we are only just getting to know. This is the beginning of the road, because, as experts point out, the healthcare industry is not prepared in terms of legislation. Current regulations do not take the digital transformation into account, yet new technologies enable new forms of advertising, such as live-streaming conferences and online webinars.
Transformation of access to knowledge
Digitalisation has brought a shift away from the traditional division between provider and recipient. With access to tools, we all become participants who want to create and share knowledge. Each of us can play the role of both the provider and the recipient, the so-called content-owner. This is also a way to improve the engagement of those participating in this knowledge exchange. As creators, we become co-responsible for the content and the success of the project, much more so than when we merely consume the content. Co-creating this knowledge base boosts its chances of breaking out of the level of easily accessible, general information. The reward is priceless – it is the time and attention of key participants. To win it you have to go back to the source, to the essence of ongoing change and the search for the answers to the question of WHY? Why does the organisation need new technologies? Why are these changes necessary? For this, you need a vision, which is created by managers who understand the WHY.
The changes occurring as a result of digitalisation cannot be put off. Outside causes such as war or pandemics have shown that the old normal to which we have been used is not coming back. And the only thing left to do is to agree with the authors of the KPMG report that digitalisation will gain momentum and will only be survived by those companies that see digital technologies as an opportunity rather than just as a threat.