The Right Order: People, Then Technology

Gerald C. Kane writes in MIT Sloan management review that “The rapid pace of technological innovation is not the key problem posed by digital disruption. The key problem…is people — specifically, the different rates at which people, organizations, and policy respond to technological advances….companies effectively navigate the challenges posed by digital disruption by undertaking initiatives that are far more organizational and managerial than technical.” In our experience, this is indeed the correct approach, and it means that true digital transformation is mainly about digital transformation leadership. Digital transformation leadership is growing digital infrastructure and adopting new business strategies, but more fundamentally, understanding that the challenge of creating a resilient organization in the digital age is a people challenge.  The choice to give management and employees the tools to understand and mitigate the digital force is what differentiates organizations that are left behind from those that thrive. This is especially true for companies that were not born digital, and find themselves struggling to keep up, no matter how quick they are to adopt the latest technology.  Though installing a digital culture may be a less tangible gain than installing, for example, an ERP, a digital culture is the gift that keeps on giving. Both are necessary, but the ROI of building a flourishing digital culture is much more long term.  That is why, for example, we developed our Strategic Value of Innovative Technology (SVIT) course, which has been taught around the world to senior management, and which we often present in the initial engagement process with organizations. In the course, participants are taught to integrate new technologies with business models, and to understand the power of the digital force. A wake up call together with practical know-how.  Leading similar initiatives in your organization is critical to crafting a more agile and digitally innovative culture. When you decide to embark on a journey of digital transformation, always remember the right order: First people, then the technology. 
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