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How to Avoid these Digital Disasters


How to Avoid these Digital Disasters

Nils Boeffel shares an article designed to help avoid a digital disaster when developing a digital strategy. 

Everyone is talking about digitalization, but many people and organizations get it wrong. To them it means throwing technology at things, hoping that they will get better. What is it really, what does it mean, and how do you think about it and implement it?

Last year I led a digitalization workshop at a company where they were looking increase their digitization efforts. They recognized the need to move ahead (mainly due to changing market demands and the competitive situation), had several topics already under way, and wanted to “speed things up.” During the workshop it turned out that many things were already being done in different parts of the organization, that there was no central digital strategy, that the digitization was not integrated with their overall corporate strategy, and that the initiatives were taking longer than planned, and not providing the expected benefits.

How could they do it better, and what would it take to successfully define a digital strategy and implement digitalization?

What is digitalization?

The main aspect of digitalization means bringing information (data) and people (the users of the data) closer together, and bringing more data into an easily accessible and usable digital format. Digital data is only helpful if the information is used to provide value, accelerate or simplify processes, aid in decision making (as in KPIs), or help us better understand a topic.

Digitalization means evolution of processes, changing in how things are done, and deploying a different mindset that eventually enables the organization to better understand and meet customer requirements. To make digitalization useful it is important to ask the question of what you are hoping to achieve (value), and above all why (see Simon Sinek’s “First Ask Why” Ted Talk) this goal is important.

Digitalization moves processes to (digital) technology and has implications for the people involved as well. They will need to change how they do things, make decisions differently, learn new tools, and understand what is expected of them in the new way of doing things. This must be considered when planning a digitalization strategy, else there is a bumpy and frustrating road ahead during the implementation of new digital technologies.

Three key roles in digitalization (and why they are important)

Three roles are required for successful digitalization in an organization:

a visionary who wants to drive new technologies forward

an optimizer who is focused on back-end processes

a champion who is responsible for consolidating digital activities in the organization

Why these three roles? Each requires a different mindset – the forward-looking visionary, the process oriented optimizer, and the organizational champion. The odds of finding these three traits in one person are slim, so it will most likely require two or three different people to drive these areas successfully. Let’s look at the roles in detail.

The digital visionary

The visionary needs to understand and integrate new and emerging technologies into the product offering. Customer facing digitalization is one of the most interesting parts of digitalization, with possibilities like augmented reality for servicing products, virtual reality for initial product experiences, AI for analytics, integrated web services, IOT, etc. New technologies are arriving at a break-neck pace and can help position a company if these technologies are understood and integrated to improve the value proposition for customers.


Key points include:

  • Digitalization overview
  • Phases of digital strategy
  • Three key roles in digitalization

Read the full article, Digital strategy or digital disaster – how to develop a successful digital strategy, on