Digital Transformation Isn't Really About Digital At All

Most of the time, clients hire consultants and agencies so that they can learn something new, but what is often not acknowledged is how much consultants and agencies also learn from their clients.

Truly is small. It's young. It's scrappy and, even though we have built an expertise in digital and social strategy, we have a LOT to learn about...well...just about everything.

One of the biggest lessons we've learned in the past year is that there is a reason that digital, the world we live and operate in, isn't about technology. And the reason that this became crystal clear for us is that we started working with Nokia.

Nokia is a giant organization that has been around for over 150 years. Many people also don't realize that Nokia started out as a pulp mill in Tampere, Finland, and adapted and shifted multiple times over the years to become the multinational communications technology leader it is today. According to Statista, "In 2018, Nokia had 103 thousand employees, situated in over 130 locations throughout the world, with over 40 thousand each in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region."

That's enormous. There are days when I find having over 10 people makes it hard to be agile, I can't imagine 10,000x that. This is why it's been so remarkable to work Amy CampbellHeather Ritchie and their amazing campaign teams on Futurithmic.

From our perspective, we continually forget how enormous Nokia is because of how open and efficient they are. Perhaps there is more happening behind the scenes than we know (and Heather does talk about this in our conversation), but we've worked with much smaller organizations who are much slower to make decisions (and are less open).

Digital transformation, as we've discussed previously on the show with Nectarios Economakis, is not a simple "let's add some technology and we're done" sort of thing. Digital transformation is more about people and culture and process than anything. As Heather told us:

We went through a head-to-toe reorganization. We cut our budgets, we went whole hog instead of doing small little pilots...We made a decision to go painful and, you know, for an organization our size, the first year was a little bit hard. WE felt like we were kind of tripping over each other to learn a methodology in software.

...and then there is the skill refresh. Many big corporations have people who've been there for a long time, doing jobs in the same way. And you know what? They do it really well, but then everything changes. It's really interesting watching this process and seeing how many people are quick to adapt and how many people are resistant.

There is technology involved, but if the people aren't trained or adaptable, it won't stick. I can't even begin to imagine the enormity of rallying over 100,000 people in 130+ locations around this level of change, but as an agency partner, I feel like they did a terrific job of it.

If you work for a large organization that is embarking on digital transformation (or are even connected to one as a consultant), you'll enjoy this conversation.

Heather also discusses what is coming next and how we should be preparing ourselves for the future where automation has completely shifted the way we work. Her upcoming book is titled, "How to Stop Bullshit Conversations and Get Stuff Done," which, in itself, is highly intriguing.