Now or Never to Update Our Culture

At the beginning of this year, I felt energized by the forward-looking perspectives from the CEO at my company. He made a New Year speech towards the entire employees and one of his key messages was about Digital Transformation (DX,) along with other essential factors to our business such as quality first, diverse workforce and innovation. I said to myself rather purely like “Alright! We’ll do it!” but simultaneously, I sensed there might be some pitfalls…something important I missed.

The first thing I’ve noticed is that we tend to skip thinking about “WHAT FOR…!?” when it comes to implementing new technologies. While DX is definitely a must-do thing, it is just a means of transforming our business, not an objective. Our CEO certainly recognizes this essence but emphasizing only digitalization would run the risk of sounding like we are trying to put the cart before the horse.

The second thing I’m skeptical about our “DX-things” is that not many of us, including myself honestly, do not understand what we can do with it, and how to utilize it. Again, without knowing what DX exactly means to our business, we’ll pursue something exciting only to fail the transformation.

Thus, I realize it is too dangerous just to jump on the bandwagon of digitalization, especially for my company, which is a large and traditional firm in the existing industry. Since it is important to always consider DX in terms of business, I expect that attempts will bring us opportunities to deep dive into our business model, our impacts on the entire society, and our ultimate purpose.

Figure 1: My company (KIRIN Holdings) sets one of the core competencies as “CTC accelerating value creation.”

I’ve checked with the current situation of my company and found that the head of DX insists that the company will update the logistics and HR systems with the state-of-art technologies. Although I think that per se is great, I’m wondering these things are just about IT (using information technology,) not about DX (transforming our business model.)  He just seems confused between two concepts. By the way, can you believe that I have to send some internal documents to the company via snail mails!? I strongly demand that he should also change the obsolete policy as soon as possible.

Further, I’m so disappointed with the fact that few of the senior managers of DX have expertise in the digital business. Their digital literacy is so low that I’m ashamed to admit that some people even use “DX,” not knowing what it stands for in English (so embarrassing…)

You may think “why don’t you hire talents from outside?” – which leads to another point; our culture.    

As a typical large domestic-market-centric company, my company is not so open to external resources yet. Despite the efforts of the management to encourage open innovations, the company is still struggling with the typical bad customs and unwritten rules such as bureaucracy, silo mentality, fear of change, preference to the status-quo…just name a few. We need to update our values and I believe the power of digital revolution can help us change our mind-set. Otherwise, we will not survive in the future.

Figure 2: I don’t want to think this disaster could happen to my company…

Of course, I don’t believe that the digital transformation will do the trick immediately as it will take many years to change our culture. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has totally changed our working environment, forcing us to shift to the rapid digitalization. We should make the best of this opportunity to think in a way that it is now or never to change our entire working styles, which can make a positive impact on our culture.

Through the ISYS8621 course, I’d like to enhance my digital skills to handle the constantly updating business world. I never want to say, “Leave it to you, young guys!” when I go back to my company in a managerial position. More importantly though, I expect to find some practical hints of applying the true meaning of digital transformation to our business, so we can take advantage of it to create competitive advantages.

My focus will be not just on what we CAN but on what we SHOULD with the new technologies.

3 comments

  1. I really appreciate the perspective you took with this post and how targeted it was.towards your company. It sounds like you have good reason to be skeptical.

  2. olivia_levy8 · ·

    This was a very insightful post and touched on a topic I am interested in diving into this semester as well, people. You mentioned the culture of your company and how it coincides with digital transformation. So often my mind jumps to “digital transformation is shifting data to the cloud” or more technical transformations of that nature, but then I think what’s the cloud good for if no one in the organization is willing to change or to use the cloud for storage? Hopefully this class will touch on some of the aspects beyond the technical side of digital transformation. It should be interesting for you to see if the culture of your organization shifts, what that transformation looks like, and what role digital played in getting it there.

  3. shaneriley88 · ·

    Sayo – Very insightful post. I’m feeling that after this class we can both return to the workforce as the savvy “young people” that could help guide the CAN and the SHOULD. It will be fascinating to me to learn about the cross-cultural effects of DX throughout the class. Truly a nice ISYS capstone.

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