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Jo Geraghty

Director

Bridging the digital divide

Date added: 28th Jun 2017
Category: Leadership

Digital transformation can open up so much potential bringing with it opportunities for collaboration and communication, for innovation and agility. But it will only do so once the leadership have taken steps to engage their people in digital culture change.

Picture the scene: out in the wilds of business stands a deep dark chasm.  On the one side: the leadership, developing schemes and dreaming dreams.  Their plans are based on assumptions but that’s OK because from where they stand they firmly believe their people are on the same pathway as they are and they know that pathway leads to success.

On the other side of the chasm people stand alone.  They catch vague glimpses of the bright future which their leaders are developing. They try to believe, they really want to believe, but they just can’t see how those plans are going to come to fruition. Looked at from their side of the chasm there is neither the infrastructure nor the digital connectivity to deliver the innovation dreams.

There is just one thing wrong with that scenario; it doesn’t just play out in the business wilderness. According to a Capgemini report [1] when it comes to digital culture ‘the disconnect between leadership and employees couldn’t be wider.’

In fact whilst 40% of leaders surveyed saw their culture as digital, only 27% of employees agreed.  Reflecting national differences the gap varied across the eight countries surveyed, being largest in France (45% v 3%) whilst in the USA it was the employees who were more in tune with digital than their leadership (47% to 48%).

Interestingly the perception gap in the UK was 10% but both sides had a greater digital perception than in any other country (63% to 53%).  Nevertheless, the fact that there is a digital perception gap at all is concerning.  When the leadership are resting their strategy on embedding a digital framework and employees just aren’t seeing it then it’s time to ask some tough questions starting with:

  • Have digital products been purchased but not implemented
  • Have employees received the training necessary to make best use of digital solutions
  • Has there been work done to engage employees in the digital strategy so that they understand how the digital framework leads to improved outcomes
  • Was the product chosen right for the organisation or was it over-promised and under-delivered

Most importantly did the leadership first scope and deliver a digital culture change which would enable optimum use of the digital framework in order to deliver the strategy.  Quite simply, adopting a digital strategy isn’t like buying a new photocopier.  You can’t just install it and assume people will instantly ‘get it’.  As Ian Rogers of LVMH commented in the Capgemini review “the big moment for an organisation is when they have embraced the fact that digital transformation isn’t a technical issue, but a cultural change.”

Perhaps that’s why 62% of respondents saw culture as being the number one inhibitor to digital transformation. And perhaps the perception gap can partly be explained by the fact that a lack of clear leadership vision was cited as the number four inhibitor, with archaic technology and lack of digital training coming in at two and three.

Digital transformation can open up so much potential within an organisation. It brings with it opportunities for collaboration and communication, for innovation and agility. But it will only do so once the leadership have taken steps to engage their people in digital culture change. Until they do so that dark chasm won’t simply be between the leadership and their people, but also between the organisation and its future success.

[1] https://www.capgemini-consulting.com/resources/the-digital-culture-challenge

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