Companies Reach Beyond Technophobia
The second-most popular, in fact, over-booked, event at the recent Davos World Economic Forum — second only to actor Kevin Spacey’s appearance — was the panel on digital transformation. The topic discussed was companies’ frantic struggles to do more than just keep up with new technologies. With the recognition that new tools enable new opportunities and ways to conduct business, companies feel like they’re under tremendous pressure to achieve mastery of them quickly and constantly. Many on the panel felt that company cultures actually presented the biggest roadblocks to fully embracing technology’s potential, not the tech itself.
The value of office cultures evolving is echoed in a new report from Accenture’s People First: The Primacy of People in the Digital Age. Its overriding conclusion is that a company needs to incorporate emerging technologies in more than just their customer-facing activities — these tools need to become part of the everyday work experience to become such a part of the way employees think that they lead to creative imagining of new products, methods, and even markets. Companies have to resist the trap of thinking business is now all about tech; it’s really all about how people utilize it.
The report cites examples of how some companies have dived in and found ways to use technology to improve their businesses. Virgin Airlines, for example, has experimented with in-flight social networks, an intriguing way to create a sense of a community and a sense of ownership, among passengers. The company also picked up two new gates at Dallas Love Field by getting 30,000 frequent flyers to sign a Change.org petition requesting the gates. Zappos’ intense focus on their customers has led them to clever data mining that lets them identify the customers they care most about and target them with ads more effectively.
The Accenture report also identifies some major trends and suggests some people-centric strategies to help companies go beyond just coping with them.