To Accelerate Digital Transformation Reduce Management Politics

A lot of Filipino companies, regardless if they’re a start-up, medium-sized enterprise, or multinational, struggle with the concept of digital transformation. With no specifics, digital transformation is vague, making it next to impossible to realize. In this post we will try to dissect what digital transformation is all about and what you need as an organization to be able to do it.

The first step to achieving transformation is to clearly state what it is you want to become and not just say “we’re going digital”. There are multiple definitions of digital transformation. Here are some of them for your appreciation:

  • Creating efficiencies in existing processes and operations by leveraging digital technology
  • Using digital marketing and advertising to drive consistent sales, shifting to performance marketing
  • Disrupting your business by creating a new market using digital technologies
  • Creating digital platforms such as social media and CRM to reduce customer churn and improve average revenue
  • Complimentary disruption — offering digital products to build an ecosystem around your core brand or service

And the list goes on. It can be one or two of these, a combination, or all of them. It depends on the needs of your organization. Ultimately though digital should have a major impact on the bottom line either by creating value in efficiencies therefore driving up core profit or directly increasing sales.

So what do you need to be able to achieve digital transformation?

It boils down to having a united leadership team united in the transformation vision. It has to be topdown and it has to be the whole leadership team because digital transformation cannot be done by the CMO or CIO alone. Digital can entail changes in company processes in finance, legal, or even HR. Without the support of the whole organization, digital transformation will be half-baked and it won’t make a dent on your bottom line.

When it comes to digital transformation (or any form of change management), there are three critical factors in play: politics, time, and resources. The levels of each affect the time and possibility of you achieving change.

Giving a talk on digital transformation during the PANA General Membership meeting

If you have high politics, low resources dedicated to change management, then it will take a long time (or maybe even never) to achieve digital transformation. Ideally, you have low politics, dedicate reasonable resources to it, and you can achieve transformation much faster.

Lower levels of politics and having a management team with shared accountability paves the way for faster transformation, which eventually leads to higher revenues in either efficiencies or higher sales (heck maybe even new ventures for the company). This is the problem in a lot of organizations in the Philippines. Since we’re an emotional people, we tend to shy away from conflict and resort to a lot of gossiping and backstabbing. This builds a culture of distrust, politics, and silos. This is the biggest hurdle to digital transformation to a lot of companies locally, regardless if they’re small, medium, or a full blown enterprise.

Writer giving a talk on DX during the AllFamous Digital CX Event last April 2017

So how do you reduce politics? I’ve always believed that the organization takes the form and values of the top executives and leaders. Here’s the harsh reality — if your CEO is stubborn, stuck in business-as-usual, and cultivates a culture of politics, then the chances are your company will not be able to change anytime soon. The only way change will happen is if the CEO realizes it or when the business is already in a bad situation and the leadership is desperate for new tactics.

The best time to push an agenda of digital transformation is when a company has new leadership. It doesn’t have to be the CEO, it can be a new CMO, CIO, CDO or even CFO that can influence the CFO and the entire management team. As long as there is high level executive sponsorship and a willingness to re-create culture to break down silos, it’s possible that change can come.

Will write more about digital transformation in the coming days. For now though I’d appreciate a share or a like for this post! Or maybe send it to your manager or boss. Maybe it will start that change that you want for your company. 🙂

PS: If you don’t believe that digital can have an impact on your business, watch this video on emerging digital trends for the Philippines.

This is part of our Disruption Series. Click below for other posts.

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Carlo Ople

Author Carlo Ople

Founder and writer of and for full disclosure I'm also the Vice-President for Digital Marketing Strategy of PLDT/Smart, the largest telco in the Philippines. Prior to this I co-founded a digital advertising agency (DM9 Digit) which we sold to Dentsu, the largest single branded agency in the world. I also co-founded one of the biggest tech websites in the country, Unbox ( Views do not represent PLDT/Smart and are purely my own.

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