Episode 14: (Data Bites) Digital Transformation and the Problem of Culture Change

On this Friday episode of data bites we explore the challenge that Digital Transformation poses for our organizations.

There is the common notion that as we digitally transform our companies we will be able to upskill, i.e. increase the digital skills of our employees, our employees so that they will be able to perform more complex job function. However, there is a limit to how far we can take this before coming to a kind of organizational implosion. This episode presents the problem before offering a (potential) solution!

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Music for the show: Foolish Game / God Don’t Work On Commission by spinmeister (c) copyright 2014 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/spinmeister/46822 Ft: Snowflake

Show Notes:

Welcome to data couture, the podcast about data culture at work at home. And on the go. I’m your host Jordan bohall. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe lows, get the latest episodes wherever you get podcasts. And if you’d like to stay up to date on everything data couture, be sure to follow us on Twitter at data couture pod. Finally, if you’d like to help support this in future episodes, consider becoming a patron of the podcast through our Patreon page@patreon.com. forward slash data couture. Now on to the show.

Welcome to data couture. I’m your host Jordan and on today’s data bytes, we’re going to follow back up with Blake, specifically this time on the notion of digital transformation. So I don’t know about many of you, but every company should be thinking about digitally transforming the way that they do business. And for many, that’s just an industry buzz term. But for some, they’re, they’re succeeding at a true digital transformation, whatever that means for them. So let’s hear what Blake Morgan has to say about digital transformation.
I want to talk about digital transformation a little bit I’m thinking quite a bit about this for my own purposes. And I feel so much like it’s a buzzword that’s, you know, it’s warming the industry. I didn’t know if you had a meaningful definition for this kind of transformation for digital transformation. And where do you see that fitting and an overall data strategy.

So in its most simple form, my favorite definition of digital transformation is solving traditional problems with technology. And I gave a speech on digital transformation today. And I broke it down into the 12 pieces that I believe defined digital transformation. They included things you might think about not think about like logistics and supply chain, transformational leadership culture, and every company has a different definition. But for me, digital transformation means you’re internally ready to serve this customer that anticipates specs, a zero friction, seamless customer experience and hate let’s be real, your employees also expect a zero friction, seamless employee experience. And so how do we prepare for the future with a digital transformation, leaning on technology to solve all kinds of problems, but also having an organization that’s internally ready to be able to do that.

So digital transformation is the solving of traditional problems using technology. That is, according to Blake Morgan. And you know, I think that is maybe one of the best definitions that I’ve come across. However, I have a problem with something she also said, namely a culture that’s ready for this transformation. I don’t know how many of you work for an organization where and I’m guessing most of you do that. Digital processes, new technologies, automation, machine learning artificial intelligence visualizations, being data literate is completely foreign to a significant swath of the team members of your employees of anyone that you work with. Now, while I am very much on board with solving traditional problems using technology, I see the problem with culture, culture is the barrier, the technology is not the barrier.

We have robotic process automation, we have robotic desktop automation, we have automated dashboarding and reporting tools, we have machine learning, we have automated machine learning and automated art official, well, maybe not artificial, automated artificial intelligence, but we should certainly have automated predictive analytics. And so we can solve a lot of these problems, a lot of these problems using these new technologies. The real challenge is the culture piece is preparing your culture for a digital transformation. And so recently, I got to talk to some bigwigs in the industry people much fancier than myself.

And they’re, I don’t want to call it a siren call. But they’re sort of the vision for the future was well, we can automate, say, our contact center, we can automate a lot of the job anyways, that a contact center agent does or we can automate a lot of the job that our retail staff or anyone on the front lines, the people that truly are your business, the people interacting with the customers, those people that represent everything that your company presents to the world, we can automate so many of those tasks. Well, what do we do with those people? One might ask, Well, the answer from these fancy bigwigs was well, we should upscale, we should prove their skills that that instead of them calling the back office or them calling a second tier technical support person, they have the power, they’re empowered to answer the more challenging questions.

So naturally, my question was great. I would love to do that for my own team members at my own company. And I’m sure many of them want to do that many of them are able to do that. But what about the people in the back office who previously had those skills? Well, let’s push the goalpost back a bit. Well, we need to upscale those people, right, we need to make sure that those people have the skills is relevant and necessary to do their new roles. Okay, well, in my mind, we’re pushing to the goalpost back again, right? Well, we upscale those people, so now they’re, they’re doing a level three support role, or maybe they’re doing the role of their very knowledgeable manager or they’re very knowledgeable, senior person.

Awesome. Okay, so we upscale those people. Well, what about you know, so you see where I’m going, we have to continually push back the goalpost, we’re continuing, upscaling upscaling I want to say upscale but up skill in skilling up our people. Well, that’s, I see that as naive, I see that as problematic. I, I see, there being a breaking point.

So my favorite
fallacy, which I won’t go too deep into in this particular episode, is called the camels nose fallacy. And effect, the camels nose fallacy is an antithesis to the slippery slope argument, which I’m sure all of you have heard and marketing. If you do this, then this happens. And then if this happens, then that happens, and all of a sudden, you’re in some terrible situation. Well, the camels nose fallacy says no, no, practically speaking, we’re going to stop at some point. And that’s where the arguments going to stop. In this case, we’re going to stop at some point in scaling up our workforce. And there won’t be any more because there won’t be any room for that. So in the case of digital transformation, I don’t quite understand what the vision is of these particular executives at these fancy companies. spouting these fancy claims. Where does it end doesn’t mean that we’re like, we’re gonna have to fire a lot of our staff, I certainly don’t want to do that. I don’t know about you. But I see a role for lots of people in the industry in the organization.

And it doesn’t necessarily involve upscaling so much as cross training or improving their roles in such a way that they’re a very valuable contributor to the organization while not necessarily resulting in this bizarre, utopian world where everybody is scaled up to their max level. And I don’t know that we’re all machine learning data scientists or something like this. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment below. Let’s talk about it. That’s it for the show. Thank you for listening. And if you liked what you’ve heard, then consider leaving a comment or like down below. Stay up to date on everything data couture, be sure to follow us on Twitter at data couture pod, consider becoming a patron@patreon.com forward slash data couture. Music for the podcast. It’s called foolish game. God don’t work on commission by the artist spin Meister. us under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, writing, editing and production of the podcast is by your host Jordan bohall.

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