Everybody wants to talk about Digital transformation but before that It is necessary to say that it is only the final stage of something bigger called Digital Literacy.
The 3 stages of Digital Literacy
There are 3 stages that concern Digital Literacy: Digital Competence, Digital Usage and, the one we are more interested in, Digital Transformation. Although It is true that these three stages concern about Digital Literacy they don’t completely belong to it. Talking about Digital Competence we can say that this particular stage is more primitive that the other ones and we cannot consider it as a stage that belongs Digital Literacy. Let me explain every single stage to clarify this with the follow diagram:
Digital Competence is just a requirement
As we understand, When a user, group or organisation that have reached an acceptable level of Digital Competence is capable to use and take full advantage of all the digital tools that they have. Nowadays, Digital Competence is a hard goal to achieve for some organisations and groups, even more for users that don’t belong to digitalised groups like older generations or professionals that their work isn’t related to the use of technology. Furthermore technology evolution is rushing, new tools are coming to the market and the everyday gap between early adopters and common users is shortened, all this together has created a huge chasm between users and technology, so we can say that Digital Competence is not a fully completed stage for these ones. If a company hasn’t reached full Digital Competence we can’t even talk about reaching Digital Usage. A company like this will have (hopefully) some digitalised users that are alienated from the analog ones, maybe these users are part of the IT department or some Marketing area and maybe part of their jobs is to advice their coworkers about Digital issues, technology, etc.
When a company that hasn’t reached a fully Digital Competence tries to start with Digital Transformation all the workload and the moral responsibility belongs to the digitalised people and anybody else, generally the analog ones don’t want to be a part of the transformation process, they don’t want to learn anything new, they don’t want to change their ways, they only want to follow with their routine, and suddenly one day realize that everything that concerns the company technology has improved, works better and is easy to use.
As a matter of fact, Digital Transformation will fail if the company isn’t prepared for it. First the company need to have reached the Digital Usage stage, It isn’t optional, it is mandatory if they really want to start a Digital Literacy Process.
But there are other risks for a company that has begin with the Digital Usage stage and wants to start a Digital Transformation process skipping the completion of the middle stage.
The first Risk is when a company that is on the middle step of the Digital Literacy Process generally can’t realize that is in the middle of some kind of comfort zone too. They use technology very good, they knows how to use their tools for work, and they can even implement new technologies quickly, so it is very comprehensible that the people of this kind of company will hesitate about taking a new step, a huge step to fully achieve the myth of Digital Transformation. But lets be clear about some points here: Being a Digital Usage company doesn’t mean that the clients of the company can communicate with it in a fully digital way, doesn’t mean that the company is Innovating, doesn’t mean that the company is creative, the only thing that this means is that the company work faster, but, if you have a bunch of analog shitty processes that returns bureaucracy and creates unsatisfied customers, it will multiply the bureaucracy and dissatisfaction when the digital tools boost the work and empower the processes.
The second risk is the use of heap technology tools, expensive software that fits the international mainstream standards and fancy touchscreen devices; using it doesn’t mean that your processes are digitalised. And that is the main issue about jumping between the Digital Usage Stage to the Digital Transformation one.
What you need to do?
So, we need to start an honest process to achieve a fully Digital Transformation without spend lots of money trying and failing. It’s better to fail fast, fail quickly and fail beautifully and start again that fail forever. The first step in the process is to be honest and realize where, in the Digital Literacy Framework, the company really is, be sure that the Digital Competence stage has been strongly reached and be prepared to change the processes of the company. Digital Transformation real meaning is: Throw away a lot of old processes and digitalise them using technology in order to rearrange the mindset of everyone in the company. Believe me, installing a new operating system, using a hipster software development library and giving everybody an iPad will not guarantee you a Digital Transformation.