Ten years ago, we hurried fifteen minutes before closing time to the shop to buy an easy-to-prepare meal. Five years later we snatched up the online order from the take-away counter of the supermarket. And today we have a subscription to Hello Fresh. Digital transformation cannot be stopped. How does this influence man?
‘The more technology enters our lives, the more need there is for human contact.’ - Dado Van Peteghem, expert in digital strategy
In the book ‘Digital Transformation’, co-written with Jo Caudron, Dado Van Peteghem explains about digital transformation and its influence on four axes: ‘Relationship with the consumer evolves from a chat at the checkout to an online contact. Digitalisation also changes the product in its core: an example is how Nike manufactures smart sports’ shoes using sensors. It also leaves its mark on the business model – the evidence can be seen in Uber or Airbnb. But the real transformation happens in people within the organisation.’
The concept of customer-orientation focused over the previous three years primarily on the first three aspects. And that poses no problem, in the opinion of Dado Van Peteghem. But if the transformation wants to have a chance of succeeding, then the mindset of people must evolve along. How? By inspiration, orientation and lifelong learning.
‘Employees want to be inspired,’ explains Dado Van Peteghem. ‘Therefore, involve them in the switch. Show them the advantages of digitalisation. Let them experience a 3D-printer at work or let them discover how a shoe sensor helps an athlete in training. Subsequently, develop a vision together: where will digitalisation lead us in ten years’ time? What does Airbnb mean for instance for the core activity of a hotel chain? Keep the finger at the pulse: remain in touch with the newest trends, technologies and start-ups. The future is after all determined by your new competitors, not by the old stagers.’
And finally: cultivate the digital IQ of your company. Provide schooling and training that groom them for the digital world. Lifelong learning is the motto. An example? ‘Torfs’ Shoes explains its employees how e-commerce works. I also strongly believe in reverse mentorship: millennials that familiarise their senior colleagues with handy apps and tools.’
The success of digital transformation also depends on the speed of the action. Dado Van Peteghem uses the image of a large mothership that surrounds itself with speedboats. ‘Scale advantages mean in a world of constant change little to nothing. Agile manoeuvrability is nowadays the name of the game. A large company cannot take sharp turns. To remain up-to-date and relevant, an organisation needs fast, efficient start-ups. The Randstad Innovation Fund for instance fits perfectly into this vision.’
Does Dado Van Peteghem not fear in all this the cold science fiction script wherein robots take over from mankind? ‘I do not believe in this. The pendulum sways both ways: the more technology enters into our lives, the more the need for human contact surfaces. We evolve towards a hybrid world: man and technology stand side by side. And therefore, each of us has a responsibility to judge technology on its merits.’