One big lesson from Covid-19 is that businesses are increasingly relying on digital services to serve their customers and differentiate themselves from their competitors. How can you make the best use of digital solutions to build a better business? This is what digital transformation is all about. So what’s the buzz you hear left and right about digital transformation? And does it really mean for aspiring and current entrepreneurs?
Thinking, planning, and building digitally sets you up to be agile, flexible, and ready to grow. Digital transformation can have a huge impact on large businesses, as they simplify their processes and technologies. Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market conditions. This reimagining of business focused on providing the best solution to customers in the digital age is what is called digital transformation.
HOWto.LIVEit Founder & CEO Ana Kertesz digs deep into what matters in digital transformation in conversation with Farley Milano. Farley is a Design PhD and has 15 years of professional experience in digital projects, having already worked both at startups and in big corporations contexts. Nowadays, he is Senior Product Manager at Bemind, being responsible for leading its Design team. In this role, Farley helps Bemind’s clients adopt user-centered design practices, like UX Design, Design Thinking and Design Sprint, through which they uncover opportunities and potentialize new businesses. Get Farley’s expert profile here.
Hi, I’m Ana Kertesz and this is HOWto.LIVEit. One of the big lessons from Covid-19 is that businesses are increasingly relying on digital services to serve their customers and differentiate themselves from their competitors. So, how can you make the best use of digital solutions to build a better business? This is what digital transformation is all about. So, what’s the buzz you hear left and right about digital transformation and does it really mean, what does it really mean for aspiring current entrepreneurs? So, I’m joined on this conversation by Farley Milano, hi Farley. Hi, Ana, it’s a big honor to be here with you and to be joining HOWto.LIVEit. Thank you! Listen, Farley and I have been working together for the past few months and it’s been an incredible experience, and Bemind has been a huge partner and helping us out on building out HOWto.LIVEit, so I’m very thankful. Farley is a design PhD, it sounds very sophisticated, and has 15 years of professional experience in digital projects, having already worked both at startups and in big corporations. Nowadays, he’s the senior product manager at Bemind, being responsible for leading the design team. In this role, Farley helps Bemind’s clients adopt user-centered design practices, like UX, or user experience, design, design thinking and design sprint to reach and uncover opportunities and potentialize new businesses. So, Farley is going to help us think about digital transformation. Farley, from what I understand, digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new or modify existing business processes, cultures and customer experiences to meet, you know, changing business and market conditions. So, can you further explain what digital transformation means? Sure, so, first of all, I would like to say a bit about what digital transformation is not, because as you can imagine and you have introduced it in this context of Covid-19, it has been let’s say widely misused, so digital transformation is not about having an e-commerce or an app or a website or even an account on Uber. It’s like like as a sole digital activity and the and also digital transformation is not this revolutionary approach that’s going to make you rich overnight or something like that. But actually digital transformation is well-orchestrated initiatives that’s usually based on three pillars. So we are talking about culture. So it’s about creating a culture that changes people’s perceptions about technology and then think about the application of digital solution on their daily activities on businesses and not only sells stuff but internally operate your business. through digital technology. The second pillar is strategy, so thinking about and your value proposition or your functional departments and how technology can enhance them. So and by that we mean that it needs as you as you have introduced it to improve an existing businesses or enable new business model and also help us understand and think about how do I see my so for example my supply management in five years and then compare this in a scenario with technology and then without technology to see the difference and how it can be and how it can generate a positive impact. And the third and last pillar is discipline. So we have to develop a plan and then iterate on that with new learnings along the way because as you can imagine and as an innovation process,. you are going to be learning a lot. And innovation means a lot of persistence and mistakes as well. So we are talking about having errors and having a lot of opportunities along the way, so that you can generate on top of that. And also it’s really important to understand in this last pillar that we are not talking about developing technology from scratch or creating an entire new IT department, for example, because you can you can think about creating solutions on very on top of very consolidated tools or even develop specialized partnerships with technology providers or some or something like that. So digital transformation, Is not about transforming your company on a technology company, but using technology as part of its new DNA if we can talk about that. So, in summary so digital transformation is about culture, strategy and discipline, or in other words, it’s basically people, vision and execution. Wow, I mean I really love the way you put it first saying what digital transformation is not and give us, giving us, you know, the points that you just gave and I love what you said about innovation is persistence plus making mistakes. So let’s talk a little bit, you know, about the challenges that small businesses face, You know, digital transformation I know can have a huge impact in large businesses and a lot of the examples you hear out there are large corporations who completely transformed and revamped their process. But as I start up, as someone who’s starting a business, and the point you said it’s not about becoming a technology company, but it’s about using digital solutions that can be proprietary or not to enhance the processes and the culture and the vision, and the user experience. But a lot of the small businesses and a lot of the startups and aspiring entrepreneurs I work with are always very confused on how they can make better make an investment in technology solutions now, so then they better serve their needs in the future, right? It’s much easier to start right than to make a change along the way. So how do you think digital transformation and this knowledge of the possibilities of technology can avoid, you know, the path of startups and entrepreneurs, you know setting up business to then having to transform later? Maybe you can talk about some experience you’ve had with some of the you know startups and smaller businesses that have embarked in digital transformation processes from an early stage. Yeah, sure, like as you have introduced it, Covid-19 made digital transformation having been produced by forceps for most of the companies and this in more than ever. Now these all this frenzy for online presence have led us to some very critical misunderstandings because as you can imagine forceps is its kind of the opposite of culture. There’s just that that we have talked about earlier today. So when a client comes to us or a partner comes to us saying oh, I need an app, we advise them to hold on a bit and this end and trust me like this happens to everyone like some very big companies up until very newborn ventures or startups. And we also ask them to ask some important whys so that they can assess their strategic vision regarding technology, and then we try to convince them to apply a combination of value proposition design, user research and also some core creative techniques as you have introduced in the beginning, like design sprint or design thinking, so that they can explore a bit about their problem or or actually their strategic needs. And it’s funny because most of our partners say that it sounds like a bit of a therapy and they ended up thinking like, oh my God, I have never explored my problem this way or Oh my God. I don’t know how to measure my success and this is a bit problematic because basically it means that people don’t know what success means for them. And I and within the we advised them that only after answering these questions, we are able to propose the proper solutions or select the best technology scenarios. So and this happens because at least here in Bemind we tend to invest on long-term relationships with clients. So for us it’s really important that their businesses are long-lasting and successful, because otherwise this is going to mean let’s say or more let’s say isolated project, and then that’s it, because the guy cannot sustain that project or that product for a very long time. And there is a very funny insight regarding that is that regarding digital transformation, usually the best opportunities come for internal business operations. So we are talking for example, how does your work as you interact with each other or how they seek their activities or what kind of metrics are meaningful for your businesses? So imagine if you have a restaurant or something like that, we are not talking only about having an e-commerce to sell your offerings. But also, you know in a really extreme future thinking about robots have in the kitchen preparing that food or even having sensors that can send discounts for people passing by your door. So that’s how we think about digital transformation being really useful in really impactful for our clients. So that’s how we think it can generate a more positive impact. for them. And back to the beginning, so forceps is about survival while digital transformation is much more about a long-lasting and joyful life. I was just going to say sign me up for the robot that can cook! I wanna be on the waiting list. I’m also looking for that. Actually, I have a I have a very good friend in Portugal who does a lot of innovation projects and he has also introduced me to some of those robots. I’m really interested on that. You can sign me up. Farley, I want to go back to a point that you said, listen, I’m trying to dismistify a lot of the common beliefs on how people think you need to start a business and grow a business because often there’s a lot of misunderstanding out there and I’m trying to show the real life experience and the behind the scenes of how to make it happen. And one of the you know, common beliefs that people have is that you need to build a proprietary technology in order to really grow your business, right? And I’ve I’ve worked with a lot of entrepreneurs and founders who have made, you know hundreds of thousands of dollars of Investments, either to create what they thought was a simple minimum viable product or an MVP or to create a version of the product, to then realize that people, you know, were not interested, and I think there were two big mistakes in the process. One, is that they were not collecting data and iterating with, you know, customers along the way as you were saying, but number two which is one of the you were saying before, that often, you know digital transformation can also be about leveraging existing, you know, platforms and technologies that are out there and incorporate that to make your business, you know better. Can you talk can you talk about that? Yeah, sure, like the in our let’s say overall, let’s say productive processes, we have a starting point where we kind of assess this strategic vision for that specific partner about technology. And the first thing is that is important to change is people’s perception about technology because sometimes we have a really strong barrier within the clients to adopt that. So if you don’t do that, it tends to be really problematic because otherwise you can create a fantastic solution that’s not going to be adopted within that company. So people tend to pass by these kind of these kind of solutions if they don’t feel that they own that in that it’s important for their work because obviously they fear being respectful if being replaced by robots and by technology, so it’s natural thatthat happened. So it’s important to change cultures. So that’s why we recommend to begin with kind of a mentoring session about to introduce the possibilities of technology. So it’s really important to understand for example for a marketing department if they need some specific solution regarding data processing or something that brings intelligence for them, or if it’s a matter only of creating digital channels, for example, so it can be a really different. Let’s say a portfolio of services that can be created. So we tend to introduce and explore a bit this way so that we can pinpoint the let’s say the best solution and also that minimizes the investment right in the beginning because as you can imagine most of the entrepreneurs, they don’t have big money or have big Investments to do that. So It’s really important to let’s say to potentialize these existing solutions because there are plenty like you can develop a really good store using let’s say open tools and in tools like Magento or even if you want to have a like a channel for contents or something like that, you can use WordPress which is a an open source platform that has fantastic features. So nowadays, it’s mostly a matter of selecting those alternatives and then try to let’s say to agreggate to specific business visions on top of that. Thank you, I mean, this was such a great conversation. I was here with Farley Milano. He has a PhD in design and he’s the senior product manager at Bemind. And we were talking about digital transformation. More than ever, thinking, planning and building digitally can set you up to be fast, flexible and ready to grow and as we’ve seen this year, having that ability is what separates successful businesses from less successful businesses. So whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, you have a start-up or you have an up and running business, understanding the principles of digital transformation can really help you be ahead of the game and set yourself up for success. So thank you, Farley, and I hope you all get out there and live it! Bye.