A Culture of Digital Blog Series: The Silos that Stifle Digitization (Part One)

Technology and Digital


October 18, 2016

An organizational structure that fosters interworking and data pushing is a critical cornerstone of digitization

The way you work now doesn’t work digitally. The very attributes of a seemingly well-organized enterprise – drawn-out planning, over-documentation and organizational silos – are the same attributes that will suffocate digitization efforts.

Yet 83 percent of business leaders report that increasing digitization over the next five years is either extremely or very important.* It’s a strategic priority for nearly everyone. But for most organizations, doing it successfully requires a fundamental cultural shift.

In this four-part series we’ll explore the most critical cultural attributes of a digital organization. We are deeply invested in building digital cultures because we believe it is as important, if not more, than any system or technology.

We start with organizational structures, the backbone of a digital culture. Getting it right is an absolute requirement for companies looking to go beyond one-off digital projects to transform into a truly digital organization.

Top three obstacles to digitize*:

  • Funding
  • Cross-department cooperation
  • Siloed efforts lacking organization-wide perspective.

Why is it so important? Because like the air we breathe, data gives life to a digital organization. Departmental and functional silos block airflow. In a digital culture, virtual and structural silos are opened to encourage the cross-pollination of ideas, data, and information. Other attributes of a digital organizational structure include:

  • Employees are incentivized to push information and data, and are rewarded for transparency and collaboration.
  • Customer experience and digital competency is everyone’s job, regardless of function.
  • Data-informed thinking is a cultural norm. Teams understand what to measure and how to use the output data to optimize performance.

A digital culture is not one-size-fits-all. The way Uber does it (you can read more about that in our latest white paper, “Business at the Speed of Data: A Digital Operating Framework”.) won’t work for every organization. However, the above attributes rooted in a commitment to data-driven inter-working is replicable and required for holistic, enterprise-wide digitization.

In case you missed it, check out Part Two of the Culture of Digital Series here and Part Three here.

*The “Culture of Digital” blog series features results from a North Highland-sponsored survey conducted in August 2016, which explored the digitization efforts of over 200 C-suite-level business leaders in the US and UK.