Lima, Peru – “The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanise production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” World Economic Forum 
In every industrial revolution, some businesses jump on the emerging change bandwagon as soon as it appears. Some lag behind, hoping to continue to draw on past successes – the list of companies that were pushed to the sidelines and never quite recovered is a long one. “Digital transformation” is no longer a mere buzzword or an abstract concept that can be ignored. This process is now taking off exponentially in Latin America, and will soon become critically important for business organisations of all sizes that want to avoid being left behind or even disappearing altogether.
Pressed by internal and external stakeholders, many businesses delve into the digital transformation race, while lacking strategy or commitment at all levels of operations and management. They open their corporate wallets to purchase the latest flashy inventions, bring them into the company, and hope for a seamless integration with instant results.
This failure to prepare then forces companies to spend valuable time trying to figure out how to use these tech advancements in a manner that serves the raison d'être of their business, and truly bring transformation into their day-to-day operations. What’s even more alarming is that in many cases, this approach is applied by near-sighted CEOs, who can’t extrapolate short-term goals to realities. A 2015 McKinsey report estimated that current technologies could automate activities that currently consume more than 20% of a CEO’s working time. Can these technologies find an application at every level of the business? Is anyone analysing their utility before making the big digital transformation leap of faith?
Many businesses enthusiastically appoint CTOs and CIOs without setting out a clear structure of interaction with all the other departments, effectively creating a silo of information and innovation that the digital transformation (in its ideal shape) would theoretically aim to abolish. The lack of in-depth collaboration levers at all levels swiftly becomes a consensus reality. This emergence of a new world reliant on AI, robotics, business eco-systems, and digital trends will tend to blind executives who fail to see that in the end, a human touch is still required. Ultimately, it will still be the people who implement, control, correct, and benefit from all these transformations.
While many jobs are being reinvented through technology, and some tasks are being automated, Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report showed that the essentially human aspects of work – such as empathy, communication, and problem-solving – are becoming more important than ever. Digital transformation will be most impactful when it puts human capital and business culture at its core; the static approach of imposing digital transformation from the top down will inevitably fail.
We should focus on what matters most. We’re not talking about marketing, technology (which is a catalyst) or processes – we’re mainly talking about culture and people. This implies, among other things, redefining profiles, putting together multidisciplinary teams and creating new forms of collaborative work. During the process, the main requirement for everyone in a business is a clear roadmap in order to successfully initiate, navigate, and implement the company’s digital transformation.
Cecilia Ibarra Posada is the Country Manager for Peru at Pedersen & Partners. Ms. Ibarra brings over two decades of experience in multinational companies from the Education, Technology, and Industrial sectors. Ms. Ibarra has held positions with AT&T Latin America, Microsoft Peru and Nextel in commercial, sales, and marketing and communications roles, and also as a training and development specialist. Since joining Pedersen & Partners, she has successfully completed senior management assignments for local and global companies in a variety of sectors, including Construction, Retail, FMCG, Technology and Media.
Pedersen & Partners is a leading international Executive Search firm. We operate 56 wholly owned offices in 52 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia & the Americas. Our values Trust, Relationship and Professionalism apply to our interaction with clients as well as executives. More information about Pedersen & Partners is available at www.pedersenandpartners.com
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