Many companies hope to achieve the innovation, profits and streamlined processes that digital transformation promises. However, in my experience, I often find there is ambiguity about digital transformation from our customers, partners and business colleagues. To help separate what’s fact and what’s fiction, I’ve condensed my point of view into three myths about digital transformation. If you grasp these common misconceptions, you’ll be on your way to achieving true digital transformation.
Myth # 1: Digital Transformation = Better Technology
The most common misconception is that if a company upgrades their technology, they will have successfully completed their digital transformation. However, while new technology is vital to any successful transformation, it is hollow without looking closely at the overall processes and corporate policies in place and the willingness and buy-in of an organization.
For true change to occur, a company-wide and employee-wide buy-in is critical for sustained transformation — the effect is that what is offered and/or how it is achieved has profoundly improved. A company’s executive team must provide a clear vision with concrete details of the long-term goals before cascading them down to the rest of their teams.
At the same time, every member of a team must take personal responsibility and change the mindset from the bottom up, too. Any change at this level is rather cultural than technological — technology is the enabler, but not the objective. True cultural change occurs when the entire organization buys into the new ideas and feels accountable. Management can present fresh ways of thinking, but each employee is responsible for buying in the transformative efforts.
Culture change doesn’t make the new technology irrelevant, obviously. As part of my role, I’m charged with delivering a successful “no-” and “low-touch” experience and establishing digital as the one channel for the entire customer lifecycle. The majority of SAP’s customers want digital access, which is why our highest priority for transformation is to create an even-better customer experience — one with more transparency and a streamlined purchase path. We want to enable them to discover, buy, try, manage and interact digitally with SAP. So, while technology is important, it tells an incomplete transformation story. Culture cannot be overlooked.
Myth # 2: Digital Transformation Only Matters to Technology and Software Companies
Your company doesn’t need to be a Silicon Valley behemoth or hot start-up to embrace digital transformation. Take the tourism industry, for example. In 2015, Disney announced it was investing $1B in IoT sensors for its parks, like Disney World. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology bands now act as hotel room keys, ride tickets and payment. The ease-of-use pleases customers and helps the company improve customer experience.
But not every company has to invest a billion dollars to realize their transformation goals. For example, Sun Communities, a real estate investment trust headquartered in Michigan, is one of many smaller companies SAP is helping on their digital transformation journey.