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Digital Transformation: A Challenge for Management

Digital Transformation: A Challenge for Management 08.01.2018 - In their online blog CIO, Florian Maier and Thor Olavsrud have described their views on the ten steps that have been devised to achieve successful digital transformation. As many firms are currently having to get to grips with the challenges presented by digital transformation, any tips given by experts are always welcome. This article focuses on the views these two experts hold on digital transformation and examines the different suggestions they are able to offer to businesses. 


From digital transformation to change management

Digital transformation plays an important role wherever new business models are expected to be introduced or new processes established. New technologies help to drive businesses forward and ensure they remain competitive. However, these new technologies must also be introduced and applied in clever and meaningful ways. For a great many companies, this initially means a radical change to a new model which is completely separate from the old filing system. The use of data and technologies also means abandoning old well-trodden paths. It is often the case that a company is hardly recognisable after it has gone through the digital transformation process. Olavsrud and Maier illustrate this by using the example of the Swedish company Aerocrine, a manufacturer of medical technology. The company originally rose to prominence through manufacturing medical diagnostic devices. However, after undergoing various remodelling processes, the core business of the company now involves selling the results of various diagnostic analyses. The change is in part due to the processes which occurred in the course of the digitalisation process. It is impossible to tell how things would have worked out for the company had this change not happened. However, it is obvious that the change has enabled the company to become a more prominent and profitable company with very good future prospects. The recipe for success in this case was change management. 


A closer look at change management

Every company needs to decide whether and when it needs to charter a different course. It is the job of the managers and their advisors to choose the right time. This is preferably shortly before the sales figures start to fall and shortly before any initial negative effects of outdated or obsolete methods start to make an impact. However, even if it is obvious that change is necessary, change management can reap many successes. Any company wishing to emulate the Swedish company Aerocrine is looking to realign operations in order to future-proof the business and ensure it remains competitive. This involves making sure that all areas of the business are considered: the entire business model itself; the role of the different departments and individual employees; the marketing strategy; customer retention measures; customer service and naturally the use of new technologies. Change management can be extremely helpful during this re-evaluation process. Change management assumes control during a change process. It guides the board room, the individual departments and the different employees towards implementing the change. Both information technology and psychology play important roles in this process. 


Guiding change management strategically

Maier and Olavsrud quote the CEO of the company Anaplan who maintains that all companies are confronted with change sooner or later. Frank Calderoni knows what he is talking about as he has amassed a great deal of experience as a CEO of various companies. He points out that the environment in which a company is operating can play an important role in change management. He believes that fundamentally competition, innovation and speed are the most significant factors. Change should not be regarded as a one-off event but rather as a continuous challenge. He also recognises the fact that many people have difficulties in dealing with any kind of change. In most companies there is initially some form of resistance to any change projects. New technologies, new procedures and new processes mean employees are faced with changes which they initially do not like. Frank Calderoni states that the executive board must resolutely support change in order to ensure that the project can function. Whoever wants to initiate change needs to have the necessary authority to do so.

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