Three Steps to a Digital Company

By entrepreneur and best-selling author Felix Plötz

Great visions often accompany the step towards a digital company. The transformation can create not only awe among employees, but also outright fear of digitization. But there are specific ways in which a digitization strategy can be quickly and successfully implemented.

The bullshit bingo of digital trends

Artificial intelligence, Big Data, blockchain, new work, agile work – digitization in companies is often accompanied by these and other buzzwords. I call this “bullshit bingo.” Digital trends are important and there is a reason for buzzwords, but they must not deteriorate into empty phrases. My experience in recent years is that major digitization strategies are woven in companies, but they summon up horror scenarios in the minds of employees, because there is often a lack of concrete implementation options. But digital companies offer employees opportunities to, among other things, design their work to be freer and more sensible. My wish is to break down the supposed digitization monster in companies and show management ways in which they can successfully promote the digital transformation. Managers have to understand how to bring along all of their employees. I offer three fundamental ideas on how to do this.

1. Digital processes are a drastic change

What is digitization? Digital transformation means a change from analog processes to digital processes. Business and work processes are automated and media disruptions are overcome. Data gained through digitization can subsequently be processed by computer. And everything that can be digitized will be digitized. So, the digital company means a massive change and disruptive upheaval, because it affects every business sector. It’s important not to let yourself be blinded by the omnipresent bullshit bingo. If you proceed – understandably – to tune this out, you may not recognize the full extent of the change! The volume of data is increasing; infrastructures, software systems and devices are being networked; products, services and processes are being automated; and finally customer interfaces are being digitized. Every employee needs to get involved in these changes, so that the company remains competitive in the long-term. Flexibility and a capacity for innovation are the characteristics of successful digital companies.

Digitization in companies: just do it!

2. Digital transformation affects the company culture

One common misconception is that digital transformation only affects IT. But a digital company culture is much more important as a foundation in order to be able to master the enormous disruption in a digital company. Why do we digitize, anyway? On the one hand, of course, in order to adapt to changed customer needs. On the other, automated business processes are intended to simplify and accelerate employees’ work – so that they are able to dedicate themselves to strategic tasks and more sensible work. To put it concisely, to me digitization means nothing less than “the end of stupid work” (, appearing on September 21). Successful digitization in companies must put people first and take them seriously. The key questions here are “Who should benefit from a digital company?” and “How can we include every employee?”

3. The digital company: just do it!

Too often, I see a lot of talk, but not enough is done. People work at cross-purposes, large companies seem crippled – instead of rolling up their sleeves and focusing on the basics. If I have learned one thing in recent years, it is that you just have to do it. And it is absolutely all right to have defeats, because after all failure is part of entrepreneurship. Companies must rediscover their enormous entrepreneurial potential and start-up spirit, because they have everything they need for the digital transformation. For the road to a digital company, the potential of the employees is fertile ground for the capacity for innovation. Use digital natives as a driving force and put experienced people to the side – that is the only way it will work.

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