Four myths about digital transformation dispelled

Source: Microsoft Pulse (31/05/2017); Author: Dorien Aerts 

From Hercules and the Ancient Greek gods to modern businesses: myths have always been around. Digital transformation has attracted its own set of stories as well. That is why Vlerick Business School, in partnership with De Tijd newspaper, has organised the fourteen-week Take the Lead programme, in which 200 managers from every sector of the economy learned more about the subject. As a result, we can start by banishing the following myths forever.

Myth #1: digital transformation is only for IT people

Although you often associate ‘digital’ with IT, a genuine digital transformation goes beyond that one department. Mieke Neven, the managing director of Burocad, agrees completely: “It is certainly not the preserve of trained IT people. Digital transformation needs to be supported by the entire organisation. Everyone needs to contribute, and nobody can be put off by the fear that it might be too technical.” Marijke Schroos, the Customer & Partner Director at Microsoft, also believes that the process is all too often seen as one person’s success: “Someone with an idea for transformation is often catapulted into the very centre of a process, but teamwork and trying, failing and getting back up again is more important than any person or idea you care to name.”

According to Dennis De Baar, the IT director of Vandemoortele, the IT team can take the lead, however: “They are at the centre of the transformation, but they are not isolated. Everyone has to work through it step by step. Your employees need to get a kind of digital driving licence, because they need to help think through the route you take. You only achieve a genuine transformation if everybody is behind you.”

Mieke Neven - Managing Director Burocad
Dennis De Baar, IT Director at Vandemoortele

Myth #2: digital transformation is only for large companies with a big business

Unfortunately companies often claim that they ‘don’t need digital transformation’, Stijn Viaene, a professor at Vlerick Business School and KU Leuven tells us. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Every organisation benefits from a digital transformation. We are living in a world that has fundamentally changed and you have no choice but to adapt. So everybody needs to transform: the faster the better.” Mieke Neven agrees: “It is a misapprehension that digital transformation is only for multinationals with big budgets. Many aspects of digital change are certainly feasible within an SME.Marijke Schroos adds a proviso: “We need to be constantly asking ourselves ‘What if I don’t do anything?’. You need to find out what implementing an idea will do for your company in the long and short term.”

Myth #3: my transformation has nothing to offer my customers

Nothing is further from the truth. A transformation must always aim to provide better customer service. For example, if you use digital tools to send invoices more quickly, you are helping your customers. Mieke Neven explains: “Your customers are more important than any change whatsoever. They are the focus of everything you do and you must not lose sight of that.” Dennis De Baar also sees the customer as the basis: “Technology is intended to remove the customers’ and users’ frustrations. Employees need to be asking themselves more and more often how they can use digital tools to make things easier for the customer. The focus should not be internal: you need to think about what is important for the customer.”

Dennis De Baar - IT Director Vandemoortele
Mieke Neven, Managing Director at Burocad

Myth #4: for digital transformation I need to consider myself and my sector

The first thing companies need to do in order to transform is open their doors”, Stijn Viaene tells us. “They need to get hold of best practices, synthesise them and proceed on that basis as a team.” Likewise for Marijke Schroos, the outside world is an important resource: “If you only look inwards, you will get a distorted image of change.” Mieke Neven also looks beyond her own sector: “The best tip is that you also need to look at companies outside your own market. For example, as a printer, we are monitoring the use of drones in the transport sector. Then we try to apply their developments to our business model.”

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