Move Up in the Digital Age with these 3 elements

Move Up in the Digital Age with these 3 elements



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Digital disruption is causing organizations to rethink their business model, strategy, organization structure, process, and culture, demanding proactivity, customer centricity, and innovation. To do so, organizations need to focus on assessing and developing Design Thinking, Data Strategy and Agility in the workforce.  Take the example of this North American bank, which shifted 30 percent of its in-branch customer traffic to digital channels, drastically reducing the brick-and-mortar footprint. Another is the case of a European cruise line that redesigned and relaunched five of its core products in a span of nine months, to increase their digital conversions and sales by 150 percent.

Delving into the three elements of Design Thinking, Data Strategy, and Agility, we realise their importance, application and exponential impact. Infusion of these three elements in an organization is not merely important but a necessity, subsequently complemented by the development of specialized capabilities like function specific training etc.

Design Thinking

A concept created by David Kelly, a notable Stanford professor and the founder of IDEO, design thinking was earlier used as a problem-solving approach. In the Digital Age, design thinking is crucial for organizations to ensure exponential customer experience. This is a crucial element because it propels mindset change, allowing organizations to tap opportunities that others don’t see. It gives them an edge to scale growth and acquire sustainability.

As Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO explains in his book ‘Change by Design’, “A competent designer can always improve upon last year’s new widget, but an inter-disciplinary team of skilled design thinkers is in a position to tackle more complex problems. From pediatric obesity to crime prevention to climate change, design thinking is now being applied to a range of challenges that bear little resemblance to the covetable objects that fill the pages of today’s coffee- table publications.”

A classic example of design thinking at play is the onboarding process at Airbnb. The organization motivates its new hires to come up with new platform and service features as part of their onboarding process. This practice is a result of the belief that great ideas can come anytime and from anywhere. Also, it helps that the new hires are not assimilated into the organization as yet. As such, they have an outside view, which allows them to be objective and think outside the box. A significant result of this exercise allowed Airbnb to enhance customer engagement by 30% by simply swapping the icon allowing consumers to add offerings to their wishlist.

Data Strategy

Underlying any digital change is data management. Building data architecture that is intelligent and efficient is the core of a data strategy. Bringing the disparate data sets, be it structured, unstructured, or machine-generated, and synchronizing it across all systems falls into a single unit – data strategy. The creation of this data strategy is mutually beneficial for both organizations and customers, leading to increased revenue.  In other words, data management is the secret to real digital success.

A successful enterprise data strategy accelerates access, agility and value of existing data. It draws on real world use cases of organisations around the world, that have achieved digital maturity. Hitachi Data systems, now known as Hitachi Vantara is a star player in this area. The industry expertise of Hitachi is a result of building trains and other industrial objects, that other analytics and infrastructure companies lack. Thus, they have a fruitful utilization of acquired data.


In a Digital Readiness Study conducted by Bloom Partners, agility was identified as a core driver for business success. The study explained that 47% of the success in digital transformation was a result of the combination of a good strategy as well as agility to execute the strategy. In comparison, a digital transformation process based solely on a good digital strategy garnered only 17% success.

Agility truly makes a difference with its three pillars at the helm – hyperawareness, informed decision-making, and fast execution.

  • Hyperawareness entails a thorough understanding of the changing trends in the industry and its impact on the business.
  • It propels the process of informed decision making.
  • Fast execution boils down to the organization’s ability to effectively and quickly carry out the decided plan.

Agility in action is seen in organizations like Motorola. Motorola realized in the mid-1960′s that with Japan’s entry in to the retail industry, they were required to move away from radios, televisions and stereos. By the 1990s, Motorola shifted its focus from retail product lines to integrated chips and wireless communication. This movement was a classic case of agility, making Motorola a forerunner in cellular communications.

It is evident that these three factors (design thinking, data strategy and agility) help in addressing the digital fault lines. Few changes that help an organization embrace these factors include

  • Instilling a feedback mechanism which helps in delivering deep insights to all the stakeholders involved
  • A shift from an industrial age mindset to a digital mindset
  • Curiosity and continuous improvement through effort and collaboration

Application and practice of these will enable an organization to bring in a divergent thinking where ideas are discussed and celebrated. Then, embracing the digital age and addressing its challenges becomes a play.


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