The Culture of Digital

In most business today, we talk about getting ready for a new future through digital transformation. And in these discussions, a key challenge is to develop the technology of digital. The technology of digital requires tech competency, it requires an organisation that can attract and retain tech talent, it requires leadership, and the hardware and software to implement this technology. These are all important matters, and a foundation for any digital development, whether it’s done in-house or solved by external vendors.

But just as important as the technology of digital, is the culture of digital. There has been a huge shift, that we all recognise, over the past 20 years. It keeps accelerating to the point where digital surrounds us in every stage and almost every moment of our lives. This is the culture we all live in, but there is a varying degree of recognition of this culture in businesses. Some businesses are fully aware, and are disruptors themselves. these can be  start-up companies, such as Uber and Snapchat, they can be businesses driven by change management, who can recognise and act on the culture of digital, or they could be vendors who’s very business model is about recognising and acting on this culture. Other businesses are lagging behind. Perhaps they see that something is happening, but they just don’t know what to do about it. others think that their industry is protected, and won’t do anything to change.

So the culture of digital is the foundation of all business development in 2016 and beyond. We live in a society where almost everyone is online, both at home and while they are out. It’s not a culture of technologists, it’s a culture of consumer and users. They understand the technology being used, but don’t delve into the specifics. They want solutions that work for them, by providing a useful service, or being entertained. To tap into this culture, a company needs the technology of digital in place. But it;s not enough. The culture of digital is more about ideas and solutions than technology. For instance, a company can create a digital service that takes their business model online. However, if that solution isn’t based on a need or an interest with the consumer, they have wasted their resources. The best ideas come from recognising real problems that people have (though they may not know they have this problem), and fixing it. The role of the business or brand is secondary to this.

Through understanding the culture of digital, companies can develop ideas that resonate with the audience, and perhaps changes the whole way they do their business. That requires leadership, guts and a thorough understanding of the future of business. It means that companies have to create a culture of digital of their own, within the company. A culture that champions ideas, celebrates and learns from failures, and that allows the team to constantly look at new opportunities for growth. If the company is happy with status quo, they will slip backwards and lose in the long run. And this extends to industries where people don’t think of “digital” even as a possibility. Industries like farming, food, B2B, shipping, paint, real estate etc. etc. will all have to face the culture of digital. A business can then choose to be a disruptor, or be disrupted. That battle is not about technology, it’s about ideas, culture, opportunities and developing your business. It’s cultural.

Erik Ingvoldstad is the Founder & CEO of Acoustic.
Follow Erik on Twitter @ingvoldSTAR, follow Acoustic at @AcousticGroupSG
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[Main photo by Bennilover, under CC]