In the last few years, I’ve worked with companies with well-thought-out digital cultures and those who have yet to make it a priority. Most FIs are somewhere in between. To remain relevant and meet customer demand, breeding a culture that is supportive of digital enhancements is a necessity. I’ve highlighted seven steps below to help you get started or continue your journey to establish a digital culture at your organization.
With technological offerings growing at an ever-increasing pace, we’re hearing more and more about the importance of establishing a digital culture. What does this truly mean and how do you go about fostering this type of culture in your organization?
A digital culture is rooted in adaptability. It embraces digital solutions to promote innovation, optimize operations, improve employee satisfaction and elevate the customer experience.
The financial industry has seen an influx of fintech entrants over the past decade, many with adaptability as a core tenant of their culture. Founded with freedom of innovation and the pursuit of creative, fintechs placed technological solutions at the center of their goals. Yet, some legacy institutions struggle to foster this digital culture, hindering technological adaptation. So, simply having digital tools does not indicate a digital culture
Consider these questions to identify what kind of digital culture you have:
To be able to answer “yes,” you need to establish a digital culture that permeates all levels of the organization.
While each company is different, there are seven basic steps you should consider while working on your digital cultural strategy.
What do you want future state to look like? Your executive leadership needs to collaborate to define these goals and create value statements that explain why a digital culture is a priority. The drive for cultural change starts at the top, and a clear vision is important.
While the executive suite may be all-in on your new objectives, a cultural shift cannot happen without enthusiasm and cooperation from senior and mid-level leadership. Encourage leaders showing resistance to embrace agility and recognize the benefits of a digital culture. You can do this through performance management, coaching and consistent, clear messaging.
Document your defined goals and cultural best practices. Then, document your current state environment for each of the topics that you’ve defined. Once that’s done, compare the two. Where are you already meeting your goals? Where do you fall short? Finally, use this current state assessment to document gaps and prioritize initiatives.
A digital culture embraces collaboration. Allow for crowdsourcing on ideas to close the gaps identified during the current state assessment. Ask team members how digital solutions could improve their workflow and customer interactions. Collaboration and transparency keep all levels of the organization energized about the new direction.
Do you have any legacy processes that could be improved by technological solutions? Look at tools that streamline communication, allow cross-functional teams to work together, and encourage technological adaptation. Technological implementations can be large, complex efforts and everyone wants to get the most out of technology investments. Make sure each implementation fits in the larger goals of your cultural strategy as well as your overall digital structure.
Everyone has different levels of comfort with new technological solutions. Provide training so that no employee feels behind. Training is important at all levels of the organization and should be routinely provided.
Remember that if you want training to deliver results, you must identify behaviors that drive toward success. Then, show employees what those behaviors look like when executed successfully.
Establishing a digital culture is not a one-and-done project and sustainability takes effort. Re-evaluate your current state against defined goals to determine if you can eliminate any legacy processes with technology enhancements. Also, you must regularly engage leadership and team members for feedback. This re-evaluation and leadership engagement should be done frequently at first. Eventually you can do it annually, once initial efforts are complete and sustainability has been reached.
A culture shift is not easy. Prioritization plus time and budget investments truly make culture a part of operational fabric.
Embracing a digital culture will reap present and future advantages. Your digitally focused organization will have streamlined processes, collaborative and transparent communication, robust data collection and reporting. You’ll reap the rewards from the ease of adaptability that comes with such a culture as the technological landscape continues to evolve.
As a company borne from the need to bridge the gap between technology and the business, we’ve helped hundreds of clients on their digital journeys from strategy assessments to vendor selection to cultural reinvention. Bridgeforce can help you establish a digital culture too.
[Editor’s note: this article was written by Sara Deuschle, former Bridgeforce Senior Program Manager.]