Digital Transformation: More Than Technology

Build a company culture supportive of meeting customers’ rapidly increasing expectations.

by Scott Souter, Hickory Point Bank & Trust

From overhauling back office operations to leveraging new technologies that respond to the digital needs of customers, businesses are focused more than ever on streamlining their organizations using technology. While digital technology is now a fundamental part of how we operate and deliver value to customers, over 91 percent of businesses struggle with digital transformation, according to The Financial Brand.

Why? Because digital transformation is not a simple or small change, and oftentimes requires a multiyear plan to accomplish. Moving from a product focus to a customer focus requires new technologies, strategies, processes, skillsets, and a new way of structuring the organization. This restructuring will be a cultural shift for the organization—and vital to the success of any digital transformation. 

A company’s culture represents a shared set of values and behaviors that define how decisions are made and strategies are implemented. All levels of management throughout a company must support the culture. A strong culture also supports all employees with a clear direction through its goals, strategies and brand. Underestimating culture as part of a digital transformation may leave the entire change process at risk while impacting financial performance. Among the key characteristics of a digital corporate culture are:

  • A flatter organizational structure, which allows for more efficient decision making and empowers employees to be agents of change. This in turn allows for more efficient use of time and encourages adaptability.
  • Greater risk taking. A digital corporate culture encourages and fosters new and improved ways of doing things—even if that results in a mistake. It is willing to take some risk if it results in positive changes going forward. 
  • Collaboration. Fundamentally, working together to solve issues likely results in more opportunities for growth. Furthermore, sharing ideas allows for colleagues to review and share other ideas, which may build upon the initial solution. The collaboration may also strengthen interpersonal relationships, which further enhances the culture. 

Becoming a digital company is about far more than just providing online and mobile functionality. It requires direct engagement across the entire company and involves a range of employee work processes and behaviors. This includes the way employees interact with each other as well as customers. Many times roles, responsibilities and organizational structure must be redefined to support a successful digital transformation. PM

Scott Souter is Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking, for Hickory Point Bank & Trust.