It’s unfortunate that words like disruption, digitalisation and innovation get worn out before we really get started.
It makes it all too easy to write off digitalisation’s changes as mere hype.
But these are fundamental changes to our society, social relations and consumption that affect us all.
The problem is that these terms are too often used without specification of what we really mean by them and without daring to articulate their consequences.
When we say disruption, are we truly prepared to sacrifice our existing business model for a new and unknown path?
When we’re going to digitalise, are we open to the fact that it might mean layoffs?
When innovation is required, are we prepared to accept that the intern’s idea could be better than the director’s?
Instead of getting lost in a discussion about terminology, we ought to talk about how we can create better products, cultivate new markets and become more efficient, better at recruiting, retaining and upgrading management and employees.
Here, technology plays a significant role. Technology will help us gear our companies for a “now-world”.
Founder of World Economic Forum in Davos, Klaus Schwab, writes in his book The Fourth Industrial Revolution:
“It is a world of the now: a real-time world where traffic directions are instantly provided and groceries are delivered directly to your door. This ‘now world’ requires companies to respond in real time wherever they are or their customers or clients may be.”
One of the places where we have experienced the now-world most intensely in the past 10 years is on social media.
The experiences gained are useful when continuing our work with innovation and digitalisation.
Here are seven suggestions for how to take on the challenge:
Learn new skills. This could happen by upskilling employees, but many places, it will require hiring new people in the fields of IT, communications or production. It’s therefore a good idea to focus on gaining new skills for the company in your job listings.
Social media and technology don’t care about departments, bosses and silos - collaboration across the organisation is required so that HR, marketing, product development and customer service are working in the same direction.
It’s sometimes necessary to do something that counters what you’ve been taught and usually do. When it comes to social media, you could e.g. offer lots of attractive free content and thereby gain loyal followers. These can subsequently be capitalised on. That’s what Facebook and other social media platforms have done and that’s what professional YouTubers and Instagrammers do.
We don’t always have the answer and in these cases, data can be an important aid. Even though we prefer the red one, data might show us that customers prefer the blue one. Data can also reveal relationships than even a human brain cannot contain.
Computers, Big Data and intelligent robots are capable of a lot, but there is still quite a ways to go before they beat us humans in terms of creativity. The demand for constant renewal requires creativity when it comes to products, services and marketing. Users have never before been so disloyal and never before been exposed to so much information. How do you make yourself interesting as a partner, a workplace or with your products?
Digitalisation and disruption sound big and dangerous in many people’s ears. But the point is, in fact, that it has become much cheaper to test out an idea. Start small by testing out some product or campaign ideas and carry out smaller innovation processes before you launch something major. The now-world is calling for pilot projects and prototypes.
Technology must be personal. Facebook’s stroke of genius consisted of making ME the centre of the Facebook universe with my own profile and personal newsfeed. How do you make the individual customer the king of your universe - right now?
Astrid Haug is a digital consultant at astridhaug.dk and the author of the Danish book Lederens GPS til sociale medier (The Manager’s GPS for Social Media). Twitter @astridhaug