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''If we want to change our companies, first we must change ourselves''
Companies often undertake digital transformation but only in the marketing department. Real digital change means changing how the whole organisation collects information, learns, creates, etc. This talk at ESADE Alumni Madrid explained the keys to success.
One of the ideas highlighted during this talk was that to change the company where you work, you must start by transforming yourself and adopting a new mindset. This talk by Franc Carreras, academic assistant in ESADE’s Marketing Management Department, featured examples of companies who have managed to do so.
So what is this new mindset? According to Carreras, it is not so much about using technologies as changing one’s attitude. New technologies enable people to communicate in different ways, seek information via new channels, learn by means of new tools, take advantage of other people’s knowledge and implement it all in one’s company.
The talk mentioned the generation of senior management and revealed their great advantage. ''Those of us who are over 40 have been really lucky. We’ve experienced the digital revolution since day one. The youngsters we call digital natives don’t have such a broad outlook. We have experienced the onset and development of the digital world, which is as advantageous as being a historian and experiencing historical events personally.''
One of the main advantages of the digital world is that it enables more connections. Carreras gave a simple demonstration of how new technologies, particularly the social media, make it possible to communicate with lots of people, without paying much attention, whilst doing other tasks.
The cornerstones of change
An entire company can adopt a digital outlook, and not just its marketing department, by taking a few factors into account. During his talk, Carreras outlined the cornerstones of change. ''Our way of communicating has changed. Media such as WhatsApp are sidelining phone calls and e-mail. The immediacy of these new channels makes us use them increasingly in our personal life. We must take the same attitude in the organisations where we work, and not be afraid of doing so.''
The same applies to how we seek information. ''Now that information is available to everyone, what matters is the ability to distinguish between good and bad information, and between reliable and untrustworthy information. This is where we have to make an effort,'' explained Carreras.
Corporate digital transformation also requires new teaching methods. The speaker gave several examples of revolutionary teaching methods. ''Coursera, TED Talks and the Khan Academy are three examples of new ways of learning. The Khan Academy, for example, has changed how maths is taught by providing videos that explain problems, enabling students to learn by understanding a subject completely.''
Another aspect to be taken into account in this new digital age is the possibility of working anywhere. ''Telework allows greater autonomy and flexibility, and leads to greater creativity,'' explained Carreras. It has been shown that people doing intellectual work who have flexible working hours or teleworking options are more efficient. By way of example, the professor mentioned the case of Iberdrola. ''Company employees were doing too much overtime, so they decided to shorten everyone’s working day. They then discovered that many people managed to do the same work in less time. Performance began to improve and overtime costs fell.''
Creativity is another skill being transformed by digitisation. According to Carreras, people are becoming more enterprising, a skill that must be encouraged inside companies. There is no need to be afraid of being inspired by other people’s ideas providing improvements are made. ''There is nothing wrong with copying, i.e. being inspired by something, providing you build upon what exists. For example, I did not invent the Mamis digitales project myself, it already existed in the UK, but here in Spain we have done some things differently and improved it.''
The ability to make the most of data is also important for corporate transformation. It is not necessary to handle huge amounts of data. In all organisations, data are managed and must be used. ''Very few companies can use big data, but all companies can use small data by focussing on two or three things that are important to us and measuring them very strictly.''
Finally, Carreras talked about going further and harnessing the strength of a community in the form of crowdsourcing. He gave the example of Captcha, the box containing distorted characters that users must decipher to prove they are not robots before submitting an online form. ''Someone had the idea of using including illegible words from scanned old books: Recaptcha. Users easily identify these words, and between them all they help ''scan'' books correctly.''
Finally, the ESADE professor and marketing consultant encouraged alumni to keep an open mind and be brave enough to take initiatives, ''If we want to transform our companies, first we must transform ourselves. We have to believe that it is possible to change how we communicate, recruit people and think.''
See you there!
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