Decoding Digital

Decoding Business Endurance: Overcoming Obstacles to Transformation

By Ideas @ AppDirect / December 1, 2021

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In this season finale episode of Decoding Digital, Daniel Saks reflects on the key insights and lessons learned from some of the great tech minds, business leaders, and digital transformation experts he’s interviewed on the podcast so far.

Daniel is joined by Renee Bergeron, General Manager of AppSmart. They discuss what defines a digital hero, how endurance is key to business survival, and why keeping things simple is vital to scaling digital success.

Hit play to listen to the podcast episode or read on to find out more.

What is a digital hero?

One of the main questions we asked in the first season of Decoding Digital is “what makes a digital hero?” We discovered that a digital hero is an innovator that takes the leap to make transformational change.

Typically, digital heroes possess a certain set of characteristics that help them to drive digital transformation. These include vision, tenacity, curiosity, and passion. We also found that a digital hero often undergoes a personal transformation to learn and develop in ways that are necessary to help their organizations evolve. Meaning that being a digital hero isn’t innate—you can train to be one.

Crucially, it doesn’t take a job title to be a digital hero. You don’t need to be a founder, CEO, or entrepreneur. Digital heroes can exist anywhere in an organization and can have diverse backgrounds and experiences. While all digital heroes share certain qualities, no individual path has been the same.

Why organizations need to think long-term

Eric Ries, author of “The Lean Startup,” said that short-term thinking is the root cause of many of today’s societal problems. Long-term investments, on the other hand, are more likely to generate better results.

In terms of running a business, particularly a startup, certain qualities are key. For example, being able to keep that long-term mindset so you can endure the challenges, both expected and unexpected, along the way. You have to be agile so that you can persevere. This is why tenacity is an important characteristic of digital heroes. Digital transformation wouldn’t happen without those who continue to push, even when obstacles get in their way.

Daniel suggests that staying aligned with a long-term vision can help you to keep your focus when times get hard. Both internal and external factors can have a huge impact on your business, but continuing to work towards your vision regardless, and inviting others to rally around this, will help you move forward.

For businesses, this means making sure that your team members are aware of your decisions and how that connects with your ability to achieve your vision. Getting your team on board with where your business helps them understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. By aligning your team, you can build a muscle for endurance and persevere through future challenges.

How to effectively drive digital transformation

Digital transformation, while a necessary evolution for many businesses, comes with its own challenges. René Obermann, former CEO of Deutsche Telekom, stated that it’s very difficult to get the wheels for digital transformation in motion, but once it starts, you have to be ready for it. So how do you get the ball rolling?

First, you need to ask two questions. What products do you want to sell? And what channels do you want to sell them through? Knowing the answers to these can help you reimagine the ideal customer journey as a digital transformation roadmap.

Many people get stuck thinking about being digital-first, remote-first, or just moving services to the cloud. But digital transformation is about more than modernizing your existing operations. It’s about helping your organization realize the full power of digitization.

Instead, think from the ground up. What do your customers really want? How can your go-to-market solutions give your customers an experience that suits them? Daniel says:

“There's a recognition that customers want to buy what they want from who they want, when they want, and therefore there needs to be many channels or options in an omnichannel way. So really reimagining your go-to-market and the way customers interact with you is super critical.”

If you’re thinking about digital transformation, Daniel’s advice is to start with the customer journey. Consider the brand you want to build and the solutions you can provide. Then define what products you want to sell and what channels you’re going to sell them through to satisfy and delight your customers.

Why organizations need to keep things simple

People often get caught up in the idea that digital transformation is complex. It doesn’t have to be. In fact, keeping as much of your business as simple as possible is a principle recommended by tech leaders such as Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, and even Steve Jobs.

Steve is quoted as saying, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Meanwhile, Aaron believes that the key to achieving simplicity is to stay hyper-focused.

It’s easy for B2B businesses and digital enterprises to drive unnecessary complexity throughout their organization. Once this starts to happen, it becomes increasingly difficult to make them simple. But it’s possible to break things down and make your business more intuitive through hard work and iteration.

Daniel suggests breaking your organization up into small teams and giving them ownership and clear autonomy. This speeds up the ability to make decisions and can help make your business simpler, faster. However, just like with your vision, it’s important to establish and maintain a focus so everyone is working towards the same goals.

“You have to think about not only what you're going to do, but what you're not going to do, and more importantly, how you're going to do things.”

To truly achieve scale, you need a product and a system with a huge, total addressable market that scales elegantly and simply. But this is very hard to achieve. Simplicity isn’t simple.

What makes a great leader?

In each episode of Decoding Digital season one, Daniel spoke with innovative founders and thought leaders, but how do people become great leaders? The answer is by continuously learning, challenging yourself, being open to criticism, and really stepping back to reflect on what you do well and what you can do better.

There’s so much information available to enable and empower you to be a better leader. If you want to evolve personally and professionally, Daniel encourages you to seek out that content, find a mentor, and consume resources that will help develop your leadership.

For more insights into digital heroes and the driving forces behind digital transformation, download The Digital Hero Mindset report here.

To hear more thoughts on the past, present, and future of digital transformation from Decoding Digital podcast guests, listen to this episode in full.

Check out the Decoding Digital podcast series for more insights from inspirational thought leaders and digital innovators. You can listen to the podcast on all the major podcasting apps, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.