CIO 100: Is design thinking key to making digital transformation work for people?


Digital transformation is the transformation of business and organizational activities to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of a mix of digital technologies and their accelerating impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way, with present and future shifts in mind. As technologies continue to be more complex companies are moving towards design thinking, a human-centered approach to innovation, in a bid to retain their customers.

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Using design thinking when it comes to their digital transformation strategies helps companies to be empathic around customer and business needs, use collaboration to bring functions and perspectives closer together, and aims to be highly iterative so to better understand and embrace the market.

Former SAP Africa, Managing Director, Brett parker, wrote an article about design thinking and digital transformation on CIO East Africa where he pointed out that, when companies focus on people, processes and environments, they encourage creativity.

“Turn that into a scalable culture and you invite disruptive innovation, not the incremental innovation that translates to little new value,” parker continued.

Harnessing a Risk-taking culture is key. McKinsey, the same consultancy that helped change corporate thinking in the early 20th century, has noted that digital performance and positive risks are joined at the hip. This type of culture not only understands that exponential rewards come with increased risk, but that failure (at least fast failure) is a powerful learning opportunity. Just like learning to ride a bike – if you never fall, you will not know how to find ways to be better.

“Design thinking creates a mindset to merge technological feasibility, business viability and human experience. This doesn’t just pertain to outward-facing products. Design thinking is as much about innovating internal processes and ideas. For example, creating new career paths facilitating a wider talent pool, requires a creative approach to what is important to a business,” Parker added.

SAP and Design thinking

Parker explained further, “I won’t claim that SAP has perfected Design Thinking, but it has done amazing things for the company. The goal of moving out of its stoic enterprise trappings is being achieved in unbelievable ways. We have engineered groundbreaking new products, created a workplace for a very diverse workforce, and realised digital transformation by becoming a real-time data-driven business. I’m not pitching a product here. I am stating that without Design Thinking, SAP may today be facing extinction. Nobody is immune from this,”

“We have since realised the value of bringing this message to our customers and offer free insights into how Design Thinking can help an organisation. The sword of pressure hangs over every business leader. Instead of worrying if it will fall, you can find confidence in a new philosophy that will change your company’s creative and innovation cultures. If you are worried about your business tomorrow, look at Design Thinking today.” He concluded.

Learn more at the CIO 100 Symposium and Awards

“Designing digital transformation for people” will be one of the hot topics covered at the The CIO 100 Symposium, the most powerful gathering of CIOs and senior IT and business executives. This is where you will network with the top leaders in IT in East Africa, forge new partnerships, and prepare to be inspired.

Here, you’ll find you’re not alone in the challenges you face or in the triumphs you celebrate. We’ll help introduce you through social events, interactive sessions, workshops and more.

Click here to register and attend the upcoming CIO 100 Annual Symposium and Award

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