Digital transformation is more a cultural than a technological change

Teresa Macchia, PhD

Teresa Macchia, PhD

Every day, at work or at home, in the metro or walking, and when reading the news, a mantra pops-up: connective technologies are impacting the way we live. Highly sophisticated computational and connective technologies are impacting the most diversified actions and interactions on a daily basis. Network and internet related products and services are at the heart of the digital transformation but they are not enough to make it flourish.

The digital transformation takes place inside and outside industrial borders, bridging personal and productive lives. This transformation is a cultural change rather than a merely technological one. Advanced connected technologies and intelligent applications affect the way things work, and impact humans’ actions and relationships. While the digital transformation technically involves systems and infrastructures, and incorporates security and privacy issues, it increasingly challenges business models and societal functions.

Hence, the digital transformation transcends technical and technological features by focusing on three main pillars: reconceptualising business models, empowering the workforce and reconfiguring management, and engaging in new customers’ experiences. The turning point in this discussion very often seems to relate to experiences: business and commercial experiences, social and human experiences; work and entertainment experience, which are all nothing less than meaningful moments, meaningful processes, meaningful actions and opportunities. These bring new ways of acting and innovating in respect to personal and social lives.

Driving this digital transformation involves a complex network of factors, components, and activities to enhance the different sides of the productive circle. However, behind the scene of the transformation, there are people who see things differently and can envision new environments and new interactions. The big challenge is the delineation of an integrated approach to this transformation, by including into the overall strategy the three different pillars of the transformation listed above.

To support and stimulate the spread of new ideas across different domains of the digital transformation, and to trigger changes on established productive and commercial processes, there is a need for:

  • (1) improving digital skills and competences for people to be ready to embrace and activate the needed cultural changes;
  • (2) opening eyes to diversity and to inclusive approaches, as wider perspectives can help the identification of hidden problems and unexpected solutions;
  • (3) rising awareness of the power of data across areas of expertise to be able to efficiently reply to productive variations;
  • (4) security and privacy issues must be considered along with all stages of technical solutions, and should relate to data collection, storage, and analysis.

Designing digital transformation suggests a creation of a road map. One that helps to dribble between data driven, intelligent, and connective technologies by replying to fundamental challenges such as the reasons for digitising a product or a service (of experiences as a matter of fact), and the ways for making this transformation possible, such as adopting new communication infrastructures and engaging communities of practitioners and stakeholders for pushing and facilitating transitions. Shifting attention from the high performing and up-to-date technologies to a wider interpretation of what digital transformation means can stimulate and encourage a broad new range of business opportunities that can reply to new and unveiled challenges.

Author - Teresa Macchia

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