When Skype was first starting to push it's Skype for Business offer, I did a lot of research into what business users wanted from a platform for work and what I kept hearing was
"I wish my work tools looked as good and were as easy to use as the ones I use personally"
When I was testing a large touchscreen solution for M&S a few years back, it occurred to me that the main difference between how the different generations use technology is how they approach it.
A 20-something will happily start playing with screen interactions and blame the machine if something doesn't work as expected. A 60-something, not so much. They needed quite a bit of reassurance to start playing with the screen and tended to blame themselves when something didn't work as expected. Massive generalisation of course but pretty useful anecdotal evidence nevertheless.
For most of my generation who grew up with digital, and even more so for the one after us, this is just another aspect of life. Particularly those of us who have ever worked in a digital industry, having decent web platforms is a bit of a standard expectation.
Why is this change so slow? Surely if a startup can create a slick business platform then an established company can replicate that in nine years?
In theory, yes. What is stopping established companies though is fear.
The digital divide
For those that haven't though, this one new way of working has changed how they do pretty much everything. And because of the pace of change in digital, if your job focuses on something entirely different, it can be hard to keep up with this rapid pace of change. I imagine it must also feel pretty awful not feeling like you know enough, particularly when you have worked your entirely life and gotten consistently more senior in your job.
It of course doesn't help that so many agencies don't seem to understand this. Honestly, the amount of times I heard staff at agencies make fun of the clients' not understanding digital during my time freelancing... Surely if the clients already "got" digital, there would be no need for the likes of us helping them along their journey?
A case for digital inclusion
I believe we need to demystify digital a bit. Yes, it will be part of everything you do. Yes, you need to understand it. But no, you don't need a "transformation".
The term digital transformation implies that the whole business will somehow change and change at that scale is scary. But business is forever transforming. Or more to the point, organisations shift and change and adapt all the time - you either adapt to the current cultural, technological and political changes or you close up shop. This is not new.
What would be a much better term for this is inclusion - let's call getting companies set up with digital by what it really is: including them in the modern world.
Looking at business tools, the discrepancy was vast, with most B2B platforms stuck in the 90s. That was nine years ago and the nineties still have a firm grip on most B2B platforms though this is slowly starting to change.
Yes, as a result, most of the companies processes will probably change but if we support these companies in the right way, this will mean a change for the better, improving on their current ways of working, rather than fundamentally changing them. We are, after all, incredibly good at building on existing practices- we've been doing it for thousands of years.
If you would like us to help with embracing digital in your organisation, get in touch.