I have an issue with the word ‘digital’. It’s innately technical. It makes you think 1s and 0s. Bits and Bytes. Computers.
The issue is that it has become to mean so much more than that. As with much of our professional lexicon, careless usage has led to the term morphing into a description of an ethos, an ideology. It defines the way we work just as much as the tools we use. And that’s a good thing. You see, my problem isn’t with the fact that ‘digital’ has been corrupted beyond its immaculate technology origins. Personally, I’m more than happy to play fast and loose with the rules of grammar if it helps get the message across. Rather, my worry is that it’s the technological heritage that is holding back the term ‘digital’.
Too often – in my humble opinion – organisations think that becoming ‘digital’ is about the adoption of a specific technology. You know, “If we move our pre-historic CRM database onto some cloud-based, mobile-friendly platform, we’ll be digital, right?” Well – and I salute your endeavour – not quite. That’ll get you some way towards it, but that alone probably won’t change the way you work.
And that’s the point with ‘being digital’. It is about changing the way you work. The challenge (and the opportunity) with digital is that it’s all or nothing. You can’t just tinker around the edges, replacing a bit of your technology and hoping it’ll fit in with the rest of your operational environment. Being digital is more than just ‘change management’; it’s re-invention. Being digital is not about defining new processes; it’s a fundamental rethink in the way you and your organisation approach problems.
People in digital organisations are like magpies
Magpies pick up, borrow and make use of whatever toolset, methodology or technology that is going to achieve a result. That’s not to say that they treat these tools lightly – they are often experts in each. It’s just that their digital nature makes them distinctively quick at assimilating and deploying them. And if they don’t work? Well, they move on and use something else.
This is why focusing simply on the technology side of digital can be so limiting. At the end of the day, a specific technology in a digital project may end up being disposable. Achieving the result is everything in digital not how you get there. Don’t worry about the technology. It’s the magpie mindset that’s key.
What do you think? Leave a reply below or contact me by email.