The Importance of Digitization
There is no longer a need to create 5 or 10-year corporate plans, when whole industries are disrupted and changed within 12 months. There are numerous examples of this, Uber disrupting the taxi industry, Airbnb disrupting the hotel industry, Facebook disrupting the publishing industry. All 3 are great examples of how platform companies disrupt traditional companies, disregarding of industry.
Moving forward, banks, hotel chains and all other companies globally are all doing the transformation to becoming technology companies.
It’s ironic how everyone talks about the fourth industrial revolution (and all the other buzz words), how all companies need a strategy and a roadmap for how to best take advantage of the digital opportunities and threats. Yet research shows that a small percent of boards and management teams actually have digital as a priority.
When looking at companies such as Airbnb, Uber, Facebook and Google, there is a cause for concern when digital is so low in both importance for management and priority amongst board members. This since people and technology must go hand in hand in a successful transformation of any company and to survive the next 5-10 years in a highly disruptive the corporate world.
To aim at staying in business and have something to compete against the technology based companies, I’ll give you five main areas that needs to be addressed when creating your digital strategy:
- Successful digital transformation must include the entire organizationand not just the IT department
- Transparent and early communication is key;
- People must buy into your new brave world, engage in the change and want to be an active part of it;
- Co-creation internally across your organization as well as externally in your industry or across industries;
- Know your clients digital journey to leverage your digital technology.
Let’s dive deeper into bullet point #3 – People must buy into your new brave world, engage in the change and want to be an active part of it
Airbnb: the Employee Experience
We’ll now have a closer look at Airbnb. They are not only disrupting a whole industry, they are also disrupting the role of HR and shaping it into a department that focuses on employees experiences. As a disruptive company challenging the well-established global and local hotel chains, Airbnb is currently valued at 25.5 billion $USD.
They have added fuel to the debate about HR and whether HR should be a thing of the past and not the future. Knowing that only 8% of companies globally believe their performance management process is worth the time they use in it, it might be worth your time as a leader to have a look at what a global, innovative and successful company is doing to engage it’s people.
In Airbnb the HR function has become the Employee Experience function. The Employee Experience function is a combination of specializations such as compensation & benefits, learning & organizational development, facilities-, safety & security, and the food program.
Mark Levy (Global Head Of Employee Experience) said in a Forbes interview, “At Airbnb we are focused on bringing to life our mission of creating a world where you can belong anywhere, by creating memorable workplace experiences which span all aspects of how we relate to employees, including how we recruit them, develop them, the work environment we create with them, the type of volunteer experiences we offer them, and the food we share together.”
The culture Airbnb has managed to create is underpinned by not only its commitment to its mission and values, but also to its unrelenting belief in honest, two-way communication. A rule they have is that nobody should hear something from a source externally before they have been informed about it internally.
Airbnb create belonging by enabling their people to form a group that are enabled and empowered to stay together as they progress through their careers within the company. How they do it is for instance by scheduling lunches and meetings to help people to understand their colleagues. Also, new hires are asked to share fun facts about themselves and why they have chosen to work for the company, and at the same time sharing information of who they are.
Airbnb also focuses on healthy food served in laid-back settings as well as disrupting the work-space where employees sit together and not in a rigid fashion. By fostering employee engagement in every aspect of the business environment, Airbnb unlocks the intrapreneurial spirit in its human capital.