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reflections of the team

#DTC17: digital transformation for large & small companies

The 10th of May, Mechelen welcomed about a hundred techies & digital lovers for Digital Transformation Conference. The day was filled with 30 minute presentations, demos & workshops. What will I be taking from this day?

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Digital transformation: what most companies are concerned about. Numbers fly around in every presentation, as statistics surely prove the importance of such a concept.

Never is discussed how well the companies are doing that are NOT concerned about it: are these companies the ones that have long ago done this thought process and are well ahead of us? Or is it the opposite: the 10% that is not worried about digital transformation, perhaps their business models are not impacted by "digital"?

#DTC17 makes it pretty clear: whether you're a large bank operating on a multinational level; or you're a local plumber doing business in your hometown, there is ALWAYS an implication. Luckily, you don’t have to be Einstein to figure “the digital” out.

Digital Transformation for large companies

#DTC17 definitely provided multiple handles to spark innovation, implement digital strategy & policy and increase efficiency with various new tools.

Personally, I'm curious to see how the market will grow more open in the future. Open-source technologies are fostered by a sharing culture, both in online communities (e.g. on Slack) but also in marketplaces where API-applications are developed and shared at bargain prices. 

This poses a challenge for companies.

A lot can be learned from the philosophy behind open source. Do you regularly consult clients, partners, competition, … when creating new products? Are your clients welcome on internal platforms? Do teams regularly work together across departments and is there a place where ideas can be shared & discussed freely to improve on processes and services?

Do you go the extra mile in providing some basic products or patents on the market for free or low cost? Do you invite external professionals to work on your ideas and perhaps even improve on them?

These questions should at the very least be thought-provoking, whether you’re a multinational where a digital platform can be the ultimate leverage, or a local coffee brewer relying on word-of-mouth. And a spark, no matter how small, can potentially be the start of your transformation.

Digital Transformation for SME's

#DTC17 did not exactly provide concrete and practical tips for small- & medium-sized enterprises, but rather ideas on how you could kickstart the digital transformation on a local level yourself.

Start experimenting now with chatbots. It's the ideal way to connect with customers, even when you're not there. Conversation is becoming the platform for all transactions in the future, thanks to chatbots. There are multiple tools to be found on the world-wide Web where you can easily create your own chatbot, not much prerequisite knowledge required.

On a later basis; mixed reality will increase efficiency by diffusing expert knowledge in your services. Imagine this: you're running a small plumbing company; you and a colleague being the senior plumbers and you have four junior plumbers in service. What if you could assist your junior plumbers from your office; where they could project exactly what they see with Mixed Reality glasses (not unlike the Microsoft HoloLens, of course) onto your own computer screen. You could draw onto that screen; and the junior plumber would see projected onto the sink where what type of enhancements need to be placed.

Expert knowledge accurately & immediately diffused, learning just-in-time and exactly where your employees needed it.

It still sounds a bit futuristic, but it's definitely coming and it serves as a possibility for you to grow without too much risk. Provided you start investing in digital literacy now.

Keep in mind all of these changes, or rather adaptations to new technologies, should be preceded by a two-fold change management process:

1/ Digital literacy; the ease you have discovering new tools & platforms, where curiosity takes over from fear.

2/ A cultural inclination, a curiosity for all things digital, a resistance overcome by collective agility & diversity, the willingness to test and experiment.

3/ Technical skills to handle such equipment. Not per se knowing all the hardware specs and the complicated software code, but at the very least, knowing what to do in case of hardware or software malfunctions.

These three streams are not easy to tackle, as the approach to learning is crucial to get right. The aXles model will provide you with inspiration and concrete handles to kickstart this process.