Does Your Digital Culture Stop At The Front Door?

The change the internet has brought is as much cultural as technological. Immediacy. Flexibility. Mobility. The sharing ethos of the maker movements and open source software. Facebook’s global family. Twitter’s non-stop conversation. We don’t just do things digitally, we do them differently.

At least we do in some circumstances. Strangely, the digital ethos seems to stop at the front door in many organisations. While we may be willing to post, like, share and analyse on our digital channels, somehow we have failed to translate some of the best bits of online culture into the operation of our organisations.

Take measurement for example. No digital-savvy organisation worth its salt would be without good web analytics, whether it’s the standard Google fare or something more specific like my own co-creation, CANDDi. We live by these numbers, day by day, even hour by hour. They inform our behaviour and even inspire new creativity as we strive to improve them. How many people have visited? How well did we engage them? Ultimately what business resulted? Measuring our social engagement just adds richness to these fundamental questions.

Measuring these things in the digital realm has become normal. But so often I find that inside organisations there is very little performance data. Departments that don’t know how much work they do, who does it, or how the work flows. Businesses with a view of costs and profits that is only available retrospectively, days, weeks, even months after the fact – too late for any corrective decisions. Processes that begin in slick, digital fashion with a well ordered digital pipeline, slipping into a paper-driven mess once they cross the threshold.

This isn’t about ‘technology good, people bad’. It’s about success and sustainability. It is much easier to scale a business and sustain changes in personnel if processes are systematised. And it is much easier to be agile in an increasingly dynamic business environment if you have good visibility into what’s happening in your organisation. With a good framework and efficient systems people are freed to do their best work and waste less time.

The technology to achieve these things isn’t expensive. Software as a Service has reduced the capital costs to near zero and meant the operational costs scale with use. The biggest challenge is the culture shift required. Convincing staff used to doing things one way to change their processes so that throughput can be easily measured in real time is invariably difficult and often slow. But the returns on investment justify the effort.

Take a look at your organisation. Compare the best practices in your digital team to those in the rest of the organisation. Learning can almost certainly go both ways. But maybe it’s time to bring some digital culture inside the business.

About the Author

  • Tom Cheesewright

    Tom Cheesewright is the founder of applied futurism practice, Book of the Future. Tom followed a degree in Mechatronic Engineering with 12 years in the tech industry, working with global brands such as BT, Orange and IBM, and subsequently founding a series of technology-driven companies. Most recently he co-founded venture-backed big data analytics start-up CANDDi of which he remains a shareholder. Tom is a frequent presence on TV and radio, appearing across the BBC from the Breakfast sofa to World Business Report, and as a regular contributor to 5live’s Saturday Edition. He is Xfm’s ‘TechCheese’ and has shared his thoughts on the future with Kiss, Kerrang, Stuff Magazine and Channel 4′s Sunday Brunch. Book of the future


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