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The Myths about Digital Change


Despite the vast use of the term «digital» its meaning is still unclear to many decisions makers in the corporate world. But it still has the power to scare them as it stands for the disruptive power of technology. Or is it just a myth?

The stories about large companies that went bankrupt because they misjudged the impact of digital change are a wakeup call to C-level decision makers. Hence, many of them kick off digital transformation programs to investigate new software solutions, disruptive technology, digital customer portals and the like. However, this might be the way to begin.

In our last article, we recommended a structured approach to digital transformation instead of following the digital hype of the day. This is easier said than done as it is so easy to be mislead by the word «digital». As a matter of fact, the first things we think of when we hear or read this word are related to information technology. But is digital technology really the reason for so many bankruptcies? Could it be, that all the tech talk distracts us from the actual root cause?

Three myths about digital change

Let’s demystify some of the tales of digital change told in the recent years. I have picked out three notions I still encounter today. In the following sections I’ll put forward some arguments explaining why I believe the opposite is true.

Myth 1: Digitalization is a new trend

Apparently, it has already been around a long time. According to Merriam-Webster, the first known use of the term «digitalization» was in 1959. In fact, the first electronic digital programmable computer, the Colossus, was built in 1943. Arpanet, the predecessor of today’s Internet, established its first link in 1969, TCP/IP was introduced in 1974 and the birth of both HTTP and HTML was in 1989. Since then, the technology has developed rapidly providing new options to use it. But it is not new.

Myth 2: Digital change is disruptive

The fear of digital disruption continues to prevail. Stories of companies going out of business are regularly brought up at conferences. It seems that this could happen to every organization that is not constantly watching out for the sudden digital knockdown.

Having said this, most digitally driven change is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Take, for example, the Eastman Kodak story. By delving a little deeper, we discover that the first recorded attempt to create a digital camera was carried out by one of Kodak’s own engineers in 1975.

There is therefore no reason to be afraid of suddenly going out of business because of digitalization. The challenge lies rather in setting the strategic priorities correctly.

Myth 3: Digital transformation is primarily a technological challenge

Companies fear losing customers due to digitalization. However, the customer experience is largely emotional, sometimes rational but never digital. In a series of workshops, we conducted with millennials, the most striking finding was that the participants hardly ever used the expression «digital». By contrast, it takes less than five minutes of a board meeting for someone to mention it.

Why is this? Millennials, like many customers of other generations, do not care whether a product or service has built-in digital technology. What they want is:

Availability – Whenever and wherever a need becomes relevant, they look for satisfaction. Opening hours and traveling to distant places are reasons for choosing one provider over another.

Immediacy – Closely related to the aspect of availability, customers wish to have immediate satisfaction. Once they have found potential sources of a product, they choose the one that delivers the fastest.

Simplicity – Complexity is an obstacle which conflicts with the two aforementioned criteria. And this is true not just for millennials. Customers wish to satisfy an apparent need and dislike having to deal with obstacles along the way.

Digital transformation always starts with the customer!

The arguments above might give the impression that nothing has changed. This is obviously not true. Change is inevitable and technology is one of today’s key drivers. Computers have become affordable. Mobile devices allow us to send and receive information instantly from any place and at any time. Large amounts of data can be stored and processed to solve complex problems. In other words, digitalization enables services to be made available around the clock and offers a simple means for consumer needs to be satisfied immediately. Technology has the power to bring companies closer to their clients.

Digital technology has become a means for serving customers better and successfully leveraging a company’s business. The prerequisite for this is a profound knowledge of the proprietary client base. Digitalization should be considered as customer centricity applying information technology in innovative ways. In other words: Clients first. Technology second. This perspective on digitalization avoids large amounts of time and money being spent on a solution your customers will not accept and which will not ultimately pay off.

In one of our recent projects the client wanted to launch the digital transformation process in his bank. In a structured approach, designed and lead by Synpulse, we jointly developed the solution. First, we applied the Synpulse Digital Health Check. With this we identified the specific digital health of the company as well as the transformation priorities. Based on these results, we supported the board of directors in defining the transformation objectives and the briefing for the implementation project. Together with specialists of the bank and a focus group of their customers we developed a new offering, redesigned the sales organization and defined a much more digital marketing approach. Only after that, the technical solution was designed. The product launch was very successful and it set in motion a transformation process within the organization on which it can build.

Transform your business to become distinctively customer-centric by applying digital technology in innovative ways. Contact André Höhn ( to arrange a meeting to explore your opportunities.

André Höhn
Associate Partner
 André Höhn
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