True Digital Organizations Put People First

Organizations need to do a double take when it comes to their “digital transformation” initiatives. While the technology side of change is always challenging (think ERP upgrade), the people side of transformation (business culture) is much harder. As CIO Jonathan Feldman contends in an article for InformationWeek, the only hope of building a true digital culture is to take a cue from the digital native.

Transformation is a Mindset

Digital natives have the “right mindset,” argues Feldman:

Look at the digital natives who have started to arrive at your organizations, the 20-somethings. The employees who sometimes come with their own laptops, might prefer to have a tablet instead, and who don’t want to go through IT to order a printer. Not only that, generally they don’t want a printer and would prefer to use Evernote and Expensify to manage their “paperwork.” They don’t understand why they have to use the organization’s super double-secret-probation secure WiFi inside of the perimeter, when, outside of the organization, they use coffee shop WiFi on a daily basis.

IT operations strive to operate with efficiency and speed, to be more agile. But those ideals are often stifled by an organizational culture that likes its control and its hierarchy. These remnants of the old order are at odds with today’s digital enterprise, and digital natives know it. They know how to set up their own desktop printer for crying out loud. And they don’t need to “run a report” through the help desk or to “set up a survey tool.” Ever heard of SurveyMonkey and Google Sheets?

Rethinking Digital Culture

This isn’t to say that these tech-savvy upstarts aren’t without traditional IT needs. They’ll accept (or ought to accept) slower processes for the sake of security where necessary. The keyword is “necessary.” Companies need to rethink span of control when it comes to IT security. They need to rethink the digital in terms of people and culture.

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