Digital Transformation

As the world wobbles through this pandemic I challenge myself and my clients to look for COVID Dividends – positive changes that could only have come about under these extraordinary circumstances. Some of them are small: the overall improvement in general health thanks to hand washing, mask-wearing and greater respect for personal space.

Others are more significant. Digital transformation – using technology and Big Data to improve business performance and disrupt category norms – has been massively accelerated by our need to do business remotely. But we could be doing it better. We’re still not attuned to the fact that the biggest determinant of success is not the technology but the behaviour of staff.

Digital transformation, properly executed, empowers your staff to care for customers more intimately, make better decisions faster, and collaborate more easily. But they won’t do that unless deliberate behaviour change actions form an integral part of the transformation plan. And no, that doesn’t mean training staff to operate the new system. Instead, it begins with rethinking ‘the way we do things around here’. Perhaps most importantly, it’s about deciding what your people are going to stop doing.

The best way to inform that decision is to ask them what they think. What do they do every working day that irritates and frustrates them?  What ideas do they have that could help you design solutions? If you did make big changes, how could you measure their impact on the business? If you cross-check these internal opinions with the views of your customers, I guarantee you will find alignment.

I’m just about to change the mobile phone network I use. It’s an emotional decision for me because, back in the day, I helped to launch the business. It quickly rose to dominate the postpaid market and was the first network in Kenya to achieve one million subscribers (how small a figure that now seems).

Since then it has been sold and bought and rebranded three times, making a lot of money for a select group of people. As a customer, I haven’t seen a single benefit. But right now it’s the disconnect between technology and staff behaviour that’s actively pushing me away. The mystery Ksh 900,000 charge on my statement that they took 3 years to remove was a bit of a sickener. Now it’s just the fact that they disconnect me every month, 3 days before they send the bill. The real issue is that their staff are powerless to intervene. Faulty technology is pre-eminent, senior management inaccessible.

Their brand is promoted as The Smartphone Network, but the smartest move will be to leave them.