Jonny Townsend: Should You Be Making Business Transformation a Priority?

Published 9 September 2019 by Jonny Townsend

Should business transformation be a priority for your business? You can probably guess the answer. It should be a resounding “YES.”

However, we find that people can be quite frightened of the aspect of business transformation. Because, usually, it involves embracing digital. And for a lot of businesses, digital is still scary.

Digital transformation is the latest impact of technology on business modernisation – and that’s nothing new. Technology has been modernising and transforming businesses for hundreds of years. But what’s new is the pace and the impact of technology on how it’s transforming businesses.

A lot of companies are worried about the pace of change, and the impact they can see it having on their business. But they don’t have to be frightened – and actually, once they start to learn about business transformation, it becomes much easier for them to understand how to adopt it, and how they should adopt it.

 

Why should you make it a priority?

Business Transformation should be a priority for organisations. If you take an average of the performance of businesses who have embraced digital transformation, you’ll find that they are 26% more profitable than their peers, across all sectors, according to research from MIT. So that in itself is a reason to do this stuff.

In the media, you tend to hear a lot about Amazon and Apple and the big tech companies. According to the World Economic Forum, for the first time last year, the five most valuable companies in the world were all tech companies – Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. 

What makes these tech giants so different is that their market values capture a significantly larger chunk of the global economy. In 2007, only one tech business, Microsoft, was among the 10 biggest companies in the world. Ten years later, half of the top 10 are from the tech world. 

World Economic Forum- Share of technology firms in the largets 10 companies of the world by market capitalisationImage: Fakhri Ahmadov via World Economic Forum


It’s not that other companies are shrinking – it’s that tech firms are growing fast. And the businesses that are being impacted the most by the rise of digital are the big, traditional global businesses. So it’s these businesses that really need to grab hold of and adopt these new technologies right across their businesses.

However, from our experience, we have seen a lot of these companies take the approach of “let’s wait and see what happens with our competitor”, or “maybe we’re okay, because we’re doing digital around the edges.” And this approach is very, very dangerous in today’s environment of rapid development. Instead, we would urge companies to grab hold of digital transformation now, and embrace it fully, because it’s one of the most significant changes that’s ever occurred in business. In fact, the World Economic Forum refers to digital as “the Fourth Industrial Revolution”

 

So how can you win at digital transformation?

When it comes to understanding which companies are winning in digital transformation, regardless of sector, they share some common traits:

Firstly, “winners” put the customer at the centre of their business, and they learn about the technologies that allow them to do that. They learn about personalisation, they learn about data, they learn about analytics, about social, about mobile; and they learn that all these things allow them to deliver truly great customer experience. And customer experience is a key driver to making you a winner in this transformation journey.

Another common theme across all of the “winners” is that they approach digital transformation from the top down. The senior management team work as a collective to grab hold of digital transformation, and drive this through the organisation, to create real business impact. They don’t merely delegate it to an HR team or a digital team – the senior leaders are the ones that own it, and they’re the ones that drive it through.

Leaders need to recognise is that business transformation is not a departmental delegation. They themselves are the ones that need to lead this. They need to get involved from day one, they need to set the vision, they need to empower people, and they need to fund it properly as well. And if they do all of these things, they can start the journey, they can carry on, and they can realise that it’s not just a “one and done” task – it’s a long-term initiative that they have to see through, and stay the course.

From what we’ve seen, the leaders who do this well are all really keen to empower people, to close the digital skills gap, to break down the barriers between tech and the rest of the business. They recognise that if they teach people how this stuff works, it’ll help teams collaborate better, share ideas better, and communicate better (both internally, and with their partners and their customers) – and this all leads to a much easier environment for them to embrace this change, and to take advantage of the opportunities that this brings. 

In short, a business really needs to embrace digital transformation fully in order to take advantage of it. But the good news is that all businesses can, they’re all capable of doing it, but they really need to work out where to start – and that’s something we can help them with.

 

How we embraced digital transformation at Circus Street

All this may sound a bit overwhelming if you’re at the start of your own transformation. So let’s take an example from our own business.

When Circus Street first started out, we used to deliver in-classroom training to groups of 12 people, usually small UK media-owners, on digital essentials. Now, we work with the world’s largest brands to deliver education across all aspects of digital transformation – and we teach hundreds or sometimes thousands or even tens of thousands of people simultaneously, in 150 countries. To enable that, we have account management teams that work in three continents, and they work together seamlessly; we have our own production company; and we have our own tech platform, that allows us to deliver our product wherever and whenever someone is in the world.

If it wasn’t for the fact that we embraced technology, we’d still be in a hotel room, stood in front of a flip chart, talking to 12 people in the room, and wondering where our next brief was coming from.

And in the same way that we embraced technology, any business can embrace technology and completely transform their business. 

It’s important, though, to recognise that each business needs to think about how it’s going to adopt it in its own businesses – and that’s something that we work with businesses a lot to help them to understand. 

 

Circus Street can help you achieve lasting transformation

As a global online learning business, we help organisations navigate the uncertainties of technology-driven future by building their digital capabilities.

At Circus Street, we help every person in an organisation to be educated on these key aspects of digital. That includes learning about the digital technologies, learning about how they impact their job, and how they need to do their job differently as a result. 

We make sure that our education is delivered in a way that's engaging and entertaining, but is also accessible at a time that suits the learner, is delivered at a pace that suits the learner, on any device, whenever and wherever they are, as often as they like. And that, in turn, builds the foundation on which they can begin their journey, or continue their journey towards digital transformation, and ultimately business transformation.

To find out how Circus Street has empowered organisations by building their digital capability, see our testimonials page. Or sign up for a free trial of our lessons to see how we can help drive business transformation in your business.


Find out more at www.circusstreet.com.

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