Take the lead in digital transformation: Can you handle it?
Digital transformation is one of the buzz words of the moment. What does it mean? How can everyone in an organisation play a role and act as a digital leader? At Flanders Make, four colleagues were given the opportunity to follow a Vlerick Business School programme on this topic.
In itself, a change in the operating context of a company is not a new fact. However, the business context nowadays changes at the speed of light and is increasingly less predictable. New digital technologies are a catalyst for the current turbulent times. A key takeaway from the course is that it is no longer enough to invest in new technologies alone. We need to embrace innovation and embed this in our business culture, organisational structure and resources (see also https://blog.flandersmake.be/en/corporate-culture-focussing-on-change). Companies are facing a transformation of their business processes. This creates threats and opportunities, in all sectors. Digital transformation is about growth based on innovation that involves the entire company and creates new relationships between people and technology. The programme highlighted four so-called ‘street skills’ to deal with rapidly changing environments:
- Have a positive focus on opportunities.
- Break out of your daily routine and define your unique contribution.
- Give open and honest feedback and challenge your team members.
- Don’t wait, try things out and fail fast and learn!
Offense and defense
Agility is part of the offensive strategy of a company and stands for applying and investing in digital technologies intended to enhance the business operations (see also https://blog.flandersmake.be/en/impact-disruptive-technology), develop new opportunities and fundamentally transform the organisation. Resilience, on the other hand, is the defensive equivalent, often overlooked, and stands for applying and investing in digital technologies intended to protect the operations as much as possible, keep employees and processes up and running and survive in difficult circumstances.
Defending against threats and developing opportunities will always cost money and companies must make a strategic choice about where its priorities lie. The good news that we learned during the training is that it is never too late to start and that everybody can contribute.
However, it is necessary to keep some essential elements in mind. One definitely needs to start thinking differently about corporate relationships and one has to start working differently as well. After all, we are talking about a transformation.
Customers are increasingly demanding and empowered and we should see them as a moving target. This means that companies must invest in small multi-disciplinary teams performing data monitoring and analytics to capture customer value and establish fast feedback loops. Moving to standardised architectures and cloud solutions that encourage common services, reusability and extensibility will enable a fast and efficient collaboration and reduce the costs and required efforts for developing applications.
The nature of the competition is also changing. It is no longer possible to do everything alone. It is therefore important to have regular strategic discussions about the company’s future core activity (see also https://blog.flandersmake.be/en/collaboration-accelerating-innovation).
Finally, companies must develop a rich high-quality network and become an active part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem to accelerate R&D and benefit from available infrastructures.
The latter point touches very strongly on the mission and vision of Flanders Make as strategic research centre for the industry:
- setting up specialised, innovative and highly digitised research with and for companies,
- boosting technological innovation for products and production processes,
- transferring knowledge for a strong technological uptake and valorisation with these companies.
Flanders Make has the ambition to be a leader in talent development to support the labour market, the transformation of businesses and the development of a digital culture.
We not only cooperate with companies but also with various international and regional research centres and other stakeholders. In our initiatives, we strive to bring companies into direct contact with each other around relevant topics, and we actively support various initiatives that promote innovation. Think of the initiative in the context of the recovery plan ‘Flemish Resilience’, through which 6 innovation leaders, together with over 60 technology developers and suppliers from Flanders and Europe, will speed up the digital transformation by realising 6 end-to-end digital pilot plants.
Another example is our cooperation with the Voka Digihubs in every province, where companies can raise all their questions about digitisation and, in particular, about new data-driven technologies in an easily accessible manner. Each regional Digihub has its own ecosystem of knowledge institutions, with Flanders Make making its expertise and state-of-the-art test & validation infrastructure available throughout the provinces.
With our ever expanding insights, we and our colleagues at Flanders Make can support companies in putting together their pieces of the puzzle. We are and will remain the reference partner in Flanders for digital transformation and Industry 4.0 adoption.
We hereby challenge you to bring forward your digital transformation ambition. Together we can make the difference and go one step further.
DESCAMPS Hans, Senior Account Manager
DEXTERS Bert, Account Manager
MAES Davy, Senior Project Manager