When a business is embarking on a digital transformation the most important question that needs to be asked is “why are we in business? And why do we exist?” according to Chris Willis, chief design officer at Domo. 

During the Domo Reimagine Series in Sydney Willis told delegates that this is a difficult question and for some companies it can lead them down a rabbit hole but, without asking it a company’s chance of digitally transforming successfully is limited. 

Willis explained digital transformation is not about “digitising stuff”. He said Domo has been interrogating what digital transformation is for years. 

“The question hasn’t changed, but the answer has. We like to think of digital transformation as the way you’re using technologies, the way you’re thinking and even your culture to not just improve, but potentially evolve into something new.”

Willis said it is not about the technology, which should be the enabler and is going to be crucial to what a business offers. Digital transformation is about reinventing your business. 

He explains, “If you’re just saying, ‘we’re going to be using digital technologies, we’re going to improve customer experience,’ that might be great but at the end of the day, that’s probably just optimising one part of your business. 

“That’s not going to make you more competitive and that’s definitely not going to stop the disruption from happening. The reason for that is, the disruption is never going to stop. Disruption is now the status quo.”

Change is accelerating

Willis said although it is cliche to talk about change accelerating, it doesn’t mean it’s not true. 

“The reason it’s not going to stop is because there are seismic shifts in many of the forces that we interact with every single day.”

He used the example of big data. “When was the last time anyone here talked about big data? We’re not going to talk about that anymore, we’ve got whole conferences on big data. That’s the new norm, it’s just overwhelming data.”

Willis said technology is changing the expectations of customers. There are new business models like Airbnb and Uber that are creating new types of customer needs. 

“We’re living in a very kind of fluid and complex regulatory environment. So no organisation is immune from change. 

“And by no organisation, I mean from the mom and pop stores down the street, to the fortune 100 companies to governments.”

Willis said companies need to start thinking beyond their day-to-day or as he calls it their myopic problems where the issue that is most visible to them is the most painful.

“We have to move beyond that and start to see where we are in it. Where are technology culture, people, ideas clashing? That’s a sign of change. 

“It’s accelerating because the technologies that we’re dealing with now branch out in a way that other technologies have not done before.”

These technologies that organisations are dealing with today range from blockchain, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and the internet. 

“Those are not just technologies that disrupt one aspect of our lives, our science or our businesses. They are technologies that actually create new kinds of disruption.

“They’re disruption engines, if you’re dealing with these new kinds of technologies, doesn’t it make sense to have a new kind of thinking? Doesn’t it make sense to think about your tools in a new kind of way? If you don’t maybe that’s why you stay frozen.”

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