Digital innovation in organizations is the single largest challenge of organizations, this century. New technological advancements and breakthroughs are part of our daily lives. It is hard enough to keep up with all the exciting possibilities as individuals, let alone as an organization.
If your organization struggles to keep up with the times, maybe you should look carefully at the following three mistakes organizations commonly make with regards to digital innovation.
1. Tech solutions will not solve your problems
We need a new website. We need an app that can tailor to the needs of our customers better. And wait, our ERP-system is not up to the challenges of this time anymore, let’s change it.
It is common to focus on a tech solution to make all of our problems to away. However, at this stage of our technological (r-)evolution, it is hardly the actual tech that holds us back. The main reason tech innovations do not solve all of our issues is both the complexity of the problems we face and how we (learn to) use the technology.
I have been asked to evaluate software packages on numerous occasions. Yet, every time I do so and tell my clients that I would need to look at the skill set and team that uses the technology, too, I get a funny look. We appear to be blind to the fact that our organizations need to grow with our software developments. It is crucial that our employees learn to work with the software that is there – get the most out of it.
In essence it always comes down to a combination of what the organization would like to achieve, who the software users are, how skilled they are at using it, and whether or not they are able to articulate their actual needs.
Improving tech alone, hardly ever solves the organizational challenges nor remedies deeper, underlying issues concerning the business model.
That is why digital innovation needs testing… see next page.
2. Digital Innovation needs testing
Let’s say your organization understands the problems at hand and the decision is made to develop a new tool that will help it solve its problems. A plan of action has been made and the technical specifications of your “IT-Product” is there.
Have you factored in the budget needed to test your product at market?
One common mistake organizations make is that they rely too heavily on their own perception; what has worked in the past and what will work in the future. The market and user behavior changes constantly. It evolves and it is not easy to keep up with the trends.
Hence, it is key to plan testing phases and budget for market tests. These market tests can be internally within your organization, to make sure the tech innovation lives up to the expectations of your workers. Or, the budget can be used to test various end-consumer segments to see how they interact with your innovation.
I’ve lost track of the number of innovations I have seen fail, because they have only requested budgets to build a product (or raised enough money to build a product) without room to test the market hypotheses.
Let’s assume you have successfully created and tested your product, have you thought about the implementation? See next page.
3. Implementing your product
This is by far the most challenging part of digital innovation: the implementation phase. It is vital to factor in a large portion of your time and effort into the implementation phase of your innovation efforts. Organizations are large, slow beasts.
We need to acknowledge that things were and are done a certain way for a reason. Hence, we need to plan on more than simply explaining the benefits of the digital innovation and new tools. Not everyone in the organization is going to understand and see the benefits of your efforts.
Digital change management is by far the largest challenge. It takes mind set (changes and) development, potentially a new organizational setup and above all a lot of patience. We cannot undo or unlearn things we have been doing for years within mere weeks.
Tech adoption rates are slower than we think
Even-though we assume that the adoption rates of tech innovations within organizations are high, the actual usage of new tools is usually far lower than we think. I have seen many companies, incapable of breaking their habits.
Some have implemented state of the art communications tools to improve the lives of the employees significantly, yet 99% of the people would much rather stick to their emails and the occasional phone call, simply because that is the way they have worked for years.
It takes time for an organization to adopt new technological advancements. Not only do we need to allow time for innovation adoption, but we must facilitate our employees with training, help and support to use these tools.
Because in essence, technological innovations are tools we must learn to use. Tools that will help us take more qualified decisions and make our working lives easier. Our organizations will need to learn how to apply the newly found knowledge and create muscle memory around tools they have never seen before.
These are things we tend to forget… See next and final page.
These are things we tend to forget
Most of our organizations are not equipped to deal with change. It is not common for employees to challenge their daily doings often, and when they do it must be done right.
Hence, we must learn to acknowledge that simply creating a tech innovation will not solve all of our organizational problems. Sometimes we create things that cannot live up to their full market potential, simply because we did not allow us time to test our hypotheses. And, we did not factor in the actual time it will take us to adopt a new technology.
Sometimes it helps to look at others – not to gloat about your own change management efforts, but to understand that most organizations have similar challenges. It takes a top level mind set change to acknowledge these factors. It also takes courage to invest in your organization and its people.
A new group of workers
It might be true that a new work force is coming, but it will take at least a decade or two until these workers will be able to run the business by themselves. In most organizations, there are only a handful of professionals who truly know how to take advantage of the technological advancements we have made in the last 10-20 years.
Use them wisely to bring your organization up to the next level and do not be afraid to ask for help. One thing is for certain, digital innovation is not a one time thing, it will take a long time for all of us to get used to a new reality. But remember this, do you recall not having a cellphone?
Yes, it took us less than 10-15 years to get accustomed to a new technology. But it took Apple, Google, Samsung and friends more than 20 years to develop the tech that is behind it – and they are still improving both their hardware and software. Standing still is not an option, your organization needs to get in the game and learn to innovate. Dare to invest and make a change.