Shifting legacy companies towards complete digital transformation

What you need to know:

  • Effective digital transformation demands that everyone in the company embrace new ideas and methodologies.

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, digital transformation has surpassed its status as a buzzword to become a critical strategy for companies aiming to remain competitive.

Reflecting on my experience as a digital transformation enthusiast, I’ve witnessed a significant shift towards utilising technology, particularly within the media industry.

My time at Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) has been eye-opening, demonstrating how traditional media can evolve into a trusted and innovative content platform by embracing a digital-first approach.

MCL’s progress teaches us that even companies not initially focused on technology can thrive by adopting digital methodologies.

In today’s fast-paced business world, digital transformation isn’t just a trend; it’s a necessity for staying competitive.

My experience at MCL has shown me that guiding traditional companies through this transition requires meticulous planning and reliance on concrete data.

Studies like the Deloitte Digital Maturity Index Survey 2022 suggest that allocating about 10 percent of your revenue to digital initiatives is crucial.

However, it’s not solely about financial investment. Effective digital transformation demands that everyone in the company embrace new ideas and methodologies. Leaders must spearhead this movement.

At MCL, our leadership team has been diligently learning and implementing digital transformation strategies. We’ve made it a priority to ensure that every employee understands the importance of digital changes.

This leadership approach sets the tone for the entire organisation, demonstrating that digital transformation is a critical and collective effort, not just a buzzword.

Key to MCL’s success in digital transformation has been its commitment to fostering a culture of innovation.

Beyond financial investments, which are undoubtedly crucial, MCL recognised the imperative need for a cultural shift towards embracing digital innovation at every level of the organisation.

Digital-first leadership played a pivotal role in spearheading this change, with the entire leadership team championing the adoption of digital transformation.

From the boardroom to the grassroots level, the term ‘digital transformation’ became deeply ingrained in MCL’s organisational language, signaling a collective commitment to embracing change and driving innovation.

One of the critical lessons gleaned from MCL’s digital journey is the importance of agility and adaptability.

The company is embracing agile practices and encouraging experimentation, which led to the introduction of several new products over the last five years.

Specifically, we’ve introduced no less than seven new products during this period. Each product launch represented a bold experiment in meeting evolving market demands and consumer preferences. While some products thrived, others faced challenges and ultimately did not endure.

However, MCL’s willingness to innovate and iterate based on real-time insights from audience engagement data ensured that its digital portfolio remained dynamic and responsive to shifting market dynamics.

Another key aspect of MCL’s digital transformation journey has been its emphasis on customer-centricity. MCL has been able to tailor its digital offerings to better meet customer needs and preferences.

This customer-centric approach has been instrumental in shaping an effective digital strategy, ensuring that MCL remains responsive to the evolving needs and preferences of its audience.

The rise and fall of BlackBerry offer valuable lessons for today’s business leaders and entrepreneurs, especially relevant to MCL’s digital transformation journey.

BlackBerry initially dominated the smartphone market with innovative features targeting business professionals, but their downfall came from failing to adapt to the competitive landscape and ignoring threats like Apple’s iPhone.

Key lessons include continually solving customer problems, adopting a “win-win” approach in partnerships, staying vigilant about market and competitive innovations, understanding that past successes do not guarantee future growth, and having knowledgeable advisors.

MCL’s proactive evolution underscores the necessity for businesses to remain agile and forward-thinking, reinforcing that embracing digitalisation and fostering a culture of innovation are essential strategies for staying competitive and driving substantial change.

The Three Box Solution by Vijay Govindarajan provides a practical framework for managing this balance by dividing focus into three areas: Box 1 (managing the present), Box 2 (selectively forgetting the past), and Box 3 (creating the future).

MCL has effectively implemented this strategy by continuing to optimise current operations (Box 1), letting go of outdated practices that no longer serve its mission (Box 2), and innovating new digital products and services to stay ahead of market trends (Box 3).

This approach has allowed MCL to meet current business performance requirements while simultaneously reinventing itself for the future.

In conclusion, the shift towards digital-centric processes is inevitable and accelerating. Embracing this change is not about fearing the unknown but preparing for the evolution of work in a digital future.

Ultimately, digital transformation is not merely a technological upgrade but a fundamental reimagining of business models, processes, and cultures.

Edson Sosten is a marketing, branding, and 360 digital transformation enthusiast. He is currently working at MCL as the Acting Head of Marketing and Events. You can reach him at [email protected]