The business culture clash in the face of digital transformation

I read in Cinco Días that according to a report prepared by GoDaddy, 70% of SMEs in Spain lack websites, and it seems that the challenge of digitization affects mainly small businesses. But after more than 20 years of working in communication, media and brand management agencies for international advertisers, I have come to the conclusion that, in terms of digital tools and platforms, there is still a long way to go also in important and consolidated companies.

Needs in the graphic chain sector regarding digitization

Progress is being made and improving by leaps and bounds, in terms of digital processes, compared to not so long ago (especially before the pandemic), although the needs of some departments are still in the process of change or evolution that have to be settled. In the graphic chain sector, which has to do with the processes of creation and management of labels and graphic materials, some examples of these departmental needs that I have been able to see are the following:

  • IT departments have more resources and decision capacity to include in their systems plans, those platforms or tools that help other departments to be more efficient in time and cost.
  • Purchasing departments see these systems as a way to avoid errors, minimize unnecessary expenses and therefore improve indirect costs.
  • Quality departments have more resources, fast and reliable, to ensure that the entire labeling circuit is carried out correctly.
  • Marketing departments can control the time-to-market of projects, which is key to align all advertising, commercial and promotional actions that normally accompany product launches, improvements, etc.
  • The production and/or internal design departments are, finally, where more tension is generated to ensure that the graphic documents are correctly produced in collaboration with their design, pre-press and printing agencies.
  • Finally, the areas of management and general management are increasingly clear that to compete more efficiently, it is necessary to redouble the commitment to the digital transition, and if they are the first to fly the flag of digitization, this purpose will permeate all areas of the organization.

Within all these needs, it is often said that in order to meet them, it is not only a question of resources, but also of being aligned with the corporate culture, and that is when doubts and uncertainty begin. In digital transformation, what is relevant is the word “transformation”.

Main culture clashes in the face of digital transformation

The corporate culture is the union between what the company wants the way employees behave and act towards work and what the employees themselves contribute to this way of behaving. Sometimes there are discrepancies between what is desired and what is done: the clash of corporate culture, which causes paralysis and does not allow companies to advance in competitiveness.

The main culture clashes and possible actions at the corporate level are:

  • Resistance to change: it is a reality that certain people are perceived or have openly expressed their resistance to adopting certain technological improvements (as there was at the time to the use of cell phones, computers, software, email itself, or videoconferencing or messaging software, which we now see as so essential). If these people lead key departments, the process will be even more complicated, although we must include, train and educate these people so that they understand the improvements and do not feel left out, but become part of the solution.
  • The perception of resistance to change: sometimes it is the leaders themselves who underestimate their team’s capacity for change, when in fact they are capable of taking it on if it is done correctly. Confidence in the team’s capabilities.
  • Expenditure vs. investment: the purchase of fixed assets in a company is generally understood as an investment (a new packaging machine, a warehouse, …) and wrongly not understood as intangible investments such as training, data management, branding or management platforms. Anything that improves team productivity should be considered an investment, not a cost.
  • “It will give us more work”: yes, indeed, anything that improves costs, clarifies objectives, provides control and monitoring of their status, requires an input of information that, in the short term, will avoid duplication, errors, time and costs. In the same way that happens when we fill in meeting reports, online annotations of changes or automated emails. It is a minor effort that gets exponential results.

  • The reluctance of some management levels: Whether by remaining in a comfort zone, by disinterest or ignorance, some key profiles of the organization ignore the departmental needs, that while the tasks can continue to be done manually as before, which is not being done badly….. There is no need to take this step towards digitalization. Here we need a lot of evangelization and demonstration via success stories to convey the competitive advantages and achieve the change of chip at management level.
  • La reticencia de algunos niveles directivos: Sea por permanecer en un área de confort, por desinterés o por desconocimiento, algunos perfiles claves de la organización desoyen las necesidades departamentales, que mientras las tareas se puedan seguir haciendo manualmente como hasta ahora, que tampoco se está haciendo mal…. No hace falta dar ese paso a la digitalización. Aquí hace falta mucha evangelización y demostración vía casos de éxito para transmitir las ventajas competitivas y lograr el cambio de chip a nivel directivo.

In conclusion, we believe that the best way to deal with this culture shock in the face of digitalization is through training, awareness, clarification of competitive advantages and betting on platforms such as MyMediaConnect (in the case of brand management platforms) as well as many other platforms in other areas of the company, are already helping thousands of companies to manage more efficiently. 

As in everything in life, selecting the right partner (and I’m talking about partner, not vendor), is vital to success, as it facilitates this culture shock management: trial and error with several platforms for the same function is what can lead to failure in the digitization of your company. Choose wisely.

Eugenio Gómez-Acebo

CEO MyMediaConnect

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