Creating a digital culture within international organisations
Building and spreading a digital culture within a large company relies on people. Digital culture is not really about technology but a state of mind. It is ability of a company, its leadership and its people to be flexible, collaborative, reactive, open to change and connected.
Our relationship to knowledge has changed with the democratisation of learning and younger generations especially are eager to learn new digital skills. Tools and methods for learning have emerged and everything is so easily accessible online (YouTube tutorials, podcasts, Google etc.).
Teams often work in silo, with little to no collaboration between countries or global-local teams. The divide remains between the separate cultures which make up international companies, defined by borders, language and a lack of centralised objectives. However, this can partly be resolved by the creation of a digital culture, improving connectivity and building an open environment for collaboration.
A digital culture also helps to create a more reactive company. Social media, the emergence of forums, specialist websites and mobile apps means we are subservient to the immediacy of information. This raises the issue of a company’s digital storytelling and how they can react to information (or misinformation) about their brand, industry or leaders. Therefore, it is increasingly important for businesses to take a digital mindset in order to protect their global reputation.
Once a business adopts a digital culture they can connect easily and more efficiently with their audience. Through digital methods of communication, brands can multiply their channels and their customer touchpoints. News, updates, new products and services can be promoted online must faster than traditional methods.
Not only is it faster, digital is also cheaper. Changing your business model to a digital one will reduce costs and improve efficiency in the long run. For example, traditional marketing operations like events and print media are long-lead, high organisation and high cost. Social media advertising and online community management is reactive, easy to adapt at the last minute and comparatively cheap.
Communication is not a one-way street. Digitally-led companies can not only push their message to their audience quickly and easily, they are also aware of the latest trends and relevant news. Companies with a digital culture can identify topics of interest to their audience and use these trends to adapt their strategy in an agile way. This is a great way to stay ahead of the competition.
To create a digital culture, it first needs to be defined. This is a not a stand-alone topic to be run by one small team within a business. It impacts the whole company, whether that is within the global headquarters, or within smaller local teams.
Creating a communication process is therefore key to the success of implementing a digital culture. Leadership teams are crucial to success. All company leaders across the separate countries must not only be aware but also be advocates for this program. This can often be the trickiest part, as leaders can be slightly less open to change than their more junior employees.
Trainings should therefore be organised across the company to onboard leaders first, to ensure they understand the benefits of creating a digital culture, for the business and for its employees. Identifying digital advocates across the company will also help to empower individuals and teams to embrace digital transformation.
Digital is fast-paced and ever-evolving. Your audience are digital, the best methods of communication are digital and therefore your company culture should be digital as well. Everything is moving forward so quickly, and change is becoming the norm. Embracing this digital mindset means you can be agile, transparent, not only ready but anticipating the changes ahead.