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Digital transformation? Don’t forget the culture!

October 18, 2020

The first industrial revolution in the 17th century reshaped the world. With the invention of steam-powered trains, we were suddenly able to travel vast distances in a matter of hours which brought the world closer together for the first time. Fast forward to 1983 – the invention of the internet revolutionized the world once again when it connected everyone with just a click of a button. This paved the way for a digital future and the inventions of newer digital technologies in the current age started the next industrial revolution commonly known as Industry 4.0. Comprising technologies such as big data, machine learning, automation, and artificial intelligence, the next industrial revolution seeks to accelerate how we live, work, and play in the future.

Digital transformation, where businesses are evolving digitally to better improve customer engagements and understand their company better through valuable insights and data, is at the heart of this revolution. However, a study conducted by Capgemini in 2017 reported that six out of 10 respondents in a survey considered culture as the number one hurdle to digital transformation. Many companies struggled to implement the right digital culture because of existing ingrained cultural biases that work previously or because of a lack of means for employees to explore new grounds and be compensated for such positive behavior. Digital culture can be defined as the framework at which it can reshape how we interact as humans and how we behave, think, and communicate in society using digital technologies. Therefore, it is imperative that the right culture must be created to better support digital changes in any organization.

To establish a successful digital culture in an organization, there can be a few vectors to consider to ensure that digital changes made by the organization can seamlessly integrate into its existing functional norms and processes.

One is to encourage collaborations among employees. Collaboration is the transparency and sharing mentality across business units, which is paramount in ensuring that teams will not adopt a silo mindset that impedes communications with one another. Encouraging collaborative behavior among employees would largely improve workflow productivity when implementing digital functions in the organization.

Organizations can also create digital learning spaces that promote digital learning and upskilling. These spaces can consist of an online learning portal with digital courses or workshops conducted physically to ensure that employees can better assimilate themselves into the new digital functions in the organization.

Another element that organizations should look to develop is innovation. Innovation is a productive behavior that fosters risk-taking or disruptive thinking and generates new and bold ideas that greatly shape the organization’s attitude and culture towards change. Furthermore, innovation promotes creativity and problem-solving in the organization when facing bottlenecks and problems when undergoing digital transformation.

Lastly, establishing a framework that rewards employees who exhibit positive digital behavior through digital KPIs are the next step forward for an organization undergoing digital change. Traditional KPIs such as financial metrics are outdated because they hinder collaboration across various units, increasing resistance to cultural transformation. Digital KPIs are indicators that look at whether there is collaboration across business units, whether teams are engaged in the wider ecosystem, and whether one team is encouraging other teams to use new behaviors. These new KPIs can help imbue the right values in creating the right digital culture in the organization.

The values that new technologies create cannot be fully realized without the right digital cultures in place to anchor it. An organization should create an ecosystem that promotes learning and growth complemented with digital technologies to achieve digital success. With the right digital culture and the invention of newer and smarter technologies, we will accelerate interconnectivity in the next industrial revolution.


Wai Chun Cheah

Senior Analyst – Sales

CapgeminiDownload Report