Our perception of the digitalization of business and society is a result of all our experience is this area – spiced with our own mindset and knowledge. It is our perceptions, through our personal lenses, that define how we view and address digitalization, and the resulting business effects. Our perception needs to change at the same rate as the digital evolution and it can be a painful journey without the right support. What lenses do you use to view digitalization?
Our perception of life and circumstance is a reflection of our experience and mindset. Our perception teaches us what is good and bad – and what we can trust. Memories of bad (and good) experiences are stored in our mind and are used to perceive and evaluate situations. It is one of the key functions of the amygdala part of the brain to translate senses into emotions and actions/decisions – all driven by experience, knowledge and mindset. Our “lenses” of circumstance guide our way through life and help us to make the right decisions. How does this relate to digitalization?
The way we view a brand or product/service is often in the light of our previous experiences and how they relate to our values and needs. In the same way, the way we perceive digitalization is a summary of previous experience and our mindset relating to these practices. I have worked in this domain for 15 years and during this journey I have changed my interpretation gradually based on new experiences, inspirations, and insights. It has been a personal journey where my own principles of digitalization have been challenged to their core. To change your perception is sometimes painful (I know) but necessary to keep up with evolution. However, some leaders see digitalization as a pure technical trend while others see it as a complete game changer addressing culture and leadership. It is hard to argue that one interpretation is better than another – it is a matter of opinion and mindset. Everything we see is tainted in someway by experience and mindset.
I often meet “traditional” CIOs who have been in the IT industries since the mid-90s with a technical career mastering technology, projects and processes. It was a time where the role of IT was to improve business productivity through cost reduction and automation. Cost-efficient IT was a successful IT organization! A career was based on delivering annual productivity gains with limited risk – often through large projects (not always successful) and smartly utilizing IT. As long as IT was “just” a productivity enabler located in the corner of the organization chart – it was an ok approach since very few understood what IT was about. My concern is how we relate to how digitalization (cross-functional) is perceived through productivity and technology lenses? How does it look like? How does it smell and feel? Does IT see the same picture as business and customers?
What we need to understand is that we need right perspectives to interpret how the future will look like. Digitalization is rapidly changing the business environment with more frequent market disruptions. Without the right perspective, emerging disruptions are difficult to detect and manage in the best way. The coming threats and opportunities might seem blurry and distant which results in delaying actions until it is too late. Successful companies are those that react to mitigate threats and leverage business opportunities in due time – and hence bypass the disruptions with little business effect.
The question I ask is whether we can trust our own perspective and perception of digitalization. It is a concept that quickly evolves, and it is difficult to stay tuned to the latest trends and challenges. Do I have the right views of digitalization and how my organization can excel in a digital business environment? It is essential to identify the business disruptors that present the potential to force 50% of companies out of business. These are business predators that are an immediate threat to your business – and need to be detected and managed in the best way. Only those companies and organizations that continuously scan for disruptions and act quickly, are those that can steer clear of the ice bergs.
It is important to notice that business disruptions come in many different forms and sizes. Some are easy to detect while others are hardly noticeable – but still have impact on the business landscape. New business ideas (for example: Airbnb) have an ability to grow rapidly with access to digital technology and funding in the right circumstances.
Future-proofing your business organization is all about having the right perspectives of the future. But the future (influenced by digitalization and globalization) is not stable and will change rapidly. Without the right perspectives – the business organization will with all certainty be phased out of the market by disruptive threat. The question we need to ask ourselves is if we are prepared for the future with right and neutral lenses? Are we even brave enough to face up to the truth in a changing market? It is up to us to decide.