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Digital Opportunism

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Most larger companies and organizations we now work with have a some kind of digitalization strategy. There’s either an internal department headed by a Chief Digital Officer, VP of Digital Transformation or something similar, or there’s a bunch of consultants looking into existing products and processes. Bunch of reports are written, but the real change seems to remain just around the corner, much like with nuclear fusion or the electric car revolution.

Digitalization means different things to different people and therefore, chaos reigns within many of these digitalization projects. Is it just an app supporting existing pre- and post-sales? A customer support method? New software products for the company? Better production efficiency for current assets like factories? Better workforce management?

We postulate that most of these are just residual changes, very far from the true fourth industrial revolution. If organizations aim to remain competitive, they must redesign their corporate DNA much more opportunistically. When starting to form the digital strategy, no product, department, function, market or related item should be left untouched. The ‘don’t fix it if it ain’t broken’ model does not work anymore.

The first thing in digitalization, much like in the military, is full situational awareness. You must know what you have, with ever-increasing accuracy. This covers people, processes, products, services, market conditions, competitors and more – with ever increasing granularity. Crucially, this awareness must cover also potential new, emerging products and services becoming possible by combining existing knowledge in a new way.

If you manufacture filter paper, think of providing filtration as a service, including the pumps and all – don’t exclude anything in the opportunistic planning phase. Look at how your customers are using your products and services and discover adjacent products and services which the customers would buy due to the existing trust in you. It’s all about maximizing the capabilities of your people and resources.

Also while more and more digital services appear, the physical world won’t go anywhere, just like cyberwar has not replaced conventional firepower but merely introduced a new, more complex dimension.

It’s fascinating how the world changed from the 90s ‘capitalize on a niche, drop everything else’ into ‘adapt all the time and be sustainable’. We just need to learn our Darwin and stop trying to find simplistic models. The digital world will be complex and requires constant new thinking.

//Pasi

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