A digital culture is a concept that describes how technology and the internet are shaping the way that we interact as humans. It’s the way that we behave, think and communicate within society. A digital culture is the product of the endless persuasive technology around us and the result of disruptive technological innovation. It’s applicable to multiple topics but it comes down to one overarching theme; the relationship between humans and technology.
Why is Embracing a Digital Culture so Important?
There are several reasons why a digital culture should matter to your organization, but centrally its because it supports digital transformation. Consequently, it impacts corporate culture just as much as business models, but why?
- Breaks hierarchy and speeds up work – It’s crucial to let employees make their own judgements and breaking down the hierarchies empowers people to make quicker decisions.
- Encourages innovation – Digital culture enables organizations to foster a workplace that motivates employees to try new things whilst enhancing the learning of your workforce.
- Attracts new age talent and retains current workforce – Millennials and GenZs no longer want to work in a 9-5 environment. They want to be part of a digital culture that allows a collaborative and autonomous workplace. It also increases employee engagement, allowing them to bring their voice and opinions to help create impact.
Why are Digital Technologies in Digital Culture?
The creation of digital technologies started began in the mid 20th century; based on two key processes:
- Digitized information – this is the recorded code of combinations of the digits 0 and 1, better known as ‘bits’, which represent words and images. Digital technology helps a large amount of information to be compressed on small storage devices that can be transported about. Digitization also improves the speed of transmission and ultimately transformed the way that people communicate, work and learn.
- Telecommunications – otherwise understood as the exchange of information over significant distances by electronic means. Digital technologies replaced many of the analogue signals in this space. This has meant that many digitized signals are less distorted and can now be easily duplicated.
What are the benefits of digital technology?
- Social connectivity – Digital technology has simplified socialization by enabling us all to communicate with family, friends and team-workers with ease. With the rise of social networking apps and websites, digital technology has made it possible to communicate via words (text messages), video (video calls, virtual conferences, virtual events) and exchange media (pictures, videos).
- Communication speed – Since it was first invented, the speed of the internet is constantly improving. Subsequently, we’ve been able to transfer tons of information instantly, whilst accessing data virtually anywhere in the world.
- Learning opportunities – Through the internet, we can all gain access to reams of information and data within seconds just by searching online. Long-gone are the days where we had to spend huge amount of time physically searching for data in books or libraries, the information is now at our fingertips. Digital technology has made it possible for anyone to have instant access to online courses, training, books, journals, publications and other information sets. The value is obvious.
- Automation – Additionally, digital technologies are also contributing to the automation of processes and machinery across industries. This gives us more time to focus on other issue areas but also assures higher safety standards, protecting us from risk in construction, mining, and other physical industries. Moreover, it has cut the costs of certain tasks by enabling us all to save money via direct access to the final product or service (e.g. booking holidays, hotels, plane tickets, or via ecommerce).
What is meant by “Digital Media”?
Digital media refers to technology or content that’s consumed or encrypted through a machine-readable platform. The world that we live in today is surrounded by digital media products that enable and deliver experiences in a variety of industries. This is true even in those industries that aren’t typically associated with them such as health, government and education. It can be found in eCommerce, websites, social media, video and more.
For some organizations it’s all about technology, for others it’s about the new ways of engaging with customers or it could be an entirely new way of doing business. To this end, it’s important that business leaders have a clear understanding of what digital means to them and their business.
This brings us back to the overarching theme of digital culture and how it is shaped by the emergence of digital technologies and the technical processes therein.
Most companies today have undergone some form of digital transformation, whether that is digitizing their data or using technology to improve processes.
This requires a digital culture to be embedded in the foundations of the company. The absence of this can add friction to strategies that require adaptability and cooperation, but if you have a strong digital culture, it can help companies accelerate change and find themselves ahead of their competitors.
What Exactly is a Digital Experience in the Context of a Digital Business?
It’s the portion of technology that allows companies to go beyond just digitizing their paper process in order to create services that are possible through the internet and other technologies.
In other words, technology alone doesn’t make something a digital experience, rather it will be the processes that can’t be achieved physically. For example, if you had a written document and a scanned document, this wouldn’t improve the digital experience necessarily as they do the same thing. However, if you had a PDF document that was enhanced to allowed online reviews and editing or things like digital signatures, this could be called a digital experience.
Accordingly, when companies look to improve their digital customer experience, they often face concerns with improving their user interface, mobile responsiveness, communication methods and making sure they deliver in real time across all touch points.
Social Media and Social Capital
Much research has been conducted into the effects of social capital and how it might impact social media. For example, this includes the information and emotional support that people might retrieve from their social network.
As an example, traditional social capital research has shown the benefits people can get from their social networks. Their strong ties provide them with emotional support however these previous assumptions have been challenged where individuals have larger and more heterogeneous networks and can communicate in varied ways than previously.
What are the Benefits that People Seek and Receive from their Social Networks?
When consumers access information from groups on social network sites they develop social capital by bonding and forging relationships within those groups. As such, the advantages of understanding and leveraging your social media networks are obvious.
With this in mind, it’s important to understand and address the following points:
- Utility Through Accumulation – One way to look at social capital is to compare it to economic capital. The more you accumulate, the easier it becomes to affect your environment. Ergo, the more followers, interactions and engagement your brand receives on posts, the more weight and influence it holds.
- Inequality of Distribution – How much social capital a brand has typically depends on how a brand engages with their key audience. It can indicate how well they know their social platforms.
- Trust – Social media marketing is based upon developing trust and social capital is essentially a stockpile of your audience’s trust in your brand. You can build this in many different ways but typically this is achieved by being authentic and open about your values and by providing consistent quality with your services and products. Equally, when people become disappointed, brands can maintain trust by being honest and open about mistakes.
- Measuring Social Capital – You must measure your social capital as it will give you unique insight into your buyer personas, behaviours and also their KPI’s. But how do you measure your social capital? Most commonly, you can do this by analysing your brand’s online sentiment and influence by measuring your brands tone of voice in online conversations. This can be conducted by using either sentiment or influence metrics. Metrics like this will show how easily your brand is able to share knowledge on social media.
The goal with all your social media activity should be to accumulate more social capital. You can grow this through conversations with connections and endorsements from community members who also have high social capital. But it’s important that the brands you invest in are profitable for both parties. If not, your connections become less likely to invest themselves in your brand and ultimately, your social capital will wane.
Creating a digital culture in your organization
To run a successful organization means you need to run a digital business. Digital is revolutionizing the way businesses operate and succeed. For example, it’s been reported that a third of key decision makers believe that culture is the most significant barrier to digital effectiveness followed by a lack of understanding digital trends.
As we continue to digitize our organizations, it’s important that we define and establish a digital culture.
In such a competitive market, it’s increasingly important to create a digital culture in your business. To help institute one, you need to ensure your employees are informed, engaged and empowered to help cultivate a digital mindset. But how is this best achieved?
- Embracing Transparency – It’s important that everyone in the business is aware of the impact that digital can have on revenue, sales and productivity. The starting point to building a digital culture is in transparency. This is best achieved through your social media groups, memos, monthly forums and blogs, as these all offer ways for employees to communicate with each other to facilitate transparency.
- Encouraging Collaboration – When employees enjoy working together it improves workflow. Ideas become more cohesive and progress can be measured. It’s no longer possible for teams to work in silos, instead, we need to share learnings and insights between departments. This will enable a productive and effective digital culture and therefore, it’s important that this type of collaboration is encouraged as well as outside team building.
- Offering Digital Training – The most effective way to know that your employees have all the knowledge of digital that they need is via digital training. Engineering a flexible program that works for your busy workforce is essential, whether that be via various training sessions or in an online platform.
- Be Comfortable with Risk – Due to the fast-moving pace of digital it’s key that we’re agile. Risk feeds into that as leaders in organizations must cultivate a workplace where employees are comfortable with trying new things. The key to employees understanding risk is that there is trust between employee and employer and an open culture that embraces innovation.
- Aspire to Inspire – Digital is the key to a world of opportunity, but many companies do not capitalize on it’s potential. With digital disruption here to stay, there will continue to be new entries into the market that will challenge how things are done. By setting clear aspirations and in delivering on big ideas for your company, you will encourage your workforce and inspire them to not only take risk but to see things in a new way.
Digital affects every facet of your organization, helping to make agility, collaboration and continuous improvement possible. The digital revolution has fundamentally changed the way we do business and the way that our organizations operate. When the needs of employees are changing, and digital talent and technologies are in increasing demand, our responsibilities are clear.
This article should outline how going digital requires a fundamental shift in the way we do business and how we should operate as a business.
There are three key aspects to ensuring the success of your company undergoing digital transformation. These are: leadership and talent, and culture and change management.
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