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Design & Technology October 21, 2014

Why Technology isn't the key to Digital Thinking

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‘Thinking digitally’ as an organisation may be on-trend right now, but what does it actually mean? Implementing new technology to help you compete more effectively and operate more efficiently?

Wrong.

The reality is that technology isn’t the first thing you need to look at when thinking digitally. In fact, there are four steps to consider before you even catch a whiff of a technology solution.

Dept has designed and built a vast number of digital solutions over the years, however it’s not just because we understand technology that we have successful outcomes; it’s because we work with our clients to understand and help define their business strategy, and what they are looking to achieve in the years ahead.

Through understanding the way our clients work and their operational processes, we are able to recommend ways of achieving their objectives. Believe me, the answer isn’t always through introducing technology.

Five Steps to Digital Thinking

Here are the key steps we recommend you undertake before considering technology solutions.

1. Know the objective

We often spend time at the start of a new project working with clients to help them fully understand and define their business objectives. This ensures that not only is the right solution for their organisation created, but that they understand the organisational change introducing a new system will require in order to ensure its ongoing success.

Whilst a lot of people understand the business problems faced at a given point in time, many look to technology to be the magic answer to fix those problems which, unfortunately, isn’t realistic.

Before you start anything, outline your organisation’s key objectives. For example, do you want to increase online sales? Drive online self-service to reduce the amount of resource needed in your call centres? Integrate your existing systems to improve internal collaboration and efficiency?

Once the objectives have been outlined, the process of finding the right solution is far more streamlined, and effectively assessing and measuring the performance of the solution becomes more viable.

2. Understand your current processes

Technology alone cannot transform your business, if the business process does not exist in the first place. So before you start thinking about technology, think about your business processes.

Do a full audit of your current processes and systems. Understand where the sticking points are, highlight the areas where you would like to see an improvement, and assess which processes  help or hinder your overall business objectives. This will help when creating your digital road map.

3. Identify the necessary changes

Once you have outlined your organisation’s objectives and detailed your current processes, you can begin to plot which changes need to made. This can be as simple as business process re-engineering, or as fundamental as requiring organisational change, introducing new teams and new roles.

4. Educate people internally

Stakeholder buy-in is imperative when implementing digital change. Involve, inform and educate the people that will be required to implement and maintain the strategy.

Stakeholder Workshops are a great way to enhance buy-in and accountability. They can help:

  • The team and cross-functional departments feel that they have been involved in creating their own futures, providing ongoing buy-in to both the project and business objectives.
  • Increase empathy for your customers’ experience.
  • Ensure that everyone is ‘on the same page’.
  • Help teams make better strategic decisions, with stakeholder support.
  • Define and support synergies in department strategies.
  • Aid cross-functional team development, understanding and learning.
  • Reduce conflicts and silos.
  • Generate enthusiasm and positive energy towards the project.
  • Create ownership and commitment from the internal teams.

5. Look at how technology could help

Now you can look at how technology may be able to help. The preceding four steps will have helped streamline the process; you will be able to identify whether there is a business case to implement a technology solution, and which solutions align with your company’s long term digital strategy.

Through working closely with our clients about how to ‘think digitally’, and looking at their business strategy, operational processes and ways of working, we are able to ensure a digital solution is designed and built to help meet business objectives. This is underpinned by knowing that it will work with all the business functions that are required to ensure its ongoing success, such as marketing, editorial, IT and the online and offline customer service teams.

To us, true ‘digital thinking’ means being process-orientated, always striving to understand how things work and how processes can be improved.

What does digital thinking mean to your organisation? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Questions? We are here to help!