IT in Manufacturing

Digital transformation starts with people

October 2018 IT in Manufacturing

Digital has become business-critical and is deemed the biggest shift for humanisation since the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, businesses and employees do not understand what digital transformation entails and therefore, we find only 47% of global companies are currently embarked on their digital transformation journey.

Digital transformation is defined as ‘the investment in, and development of, new technologies, mind-sets and business and operational models to improve work and competitiveness and deliver new and relevant value for customers and employees in an ever-evolving digital economy.’

Digital transformation is not just about the technology, but about new ways of working.

Before embarking on a digital transformation journey, a company must acknowledge that multiple dimensions should be considered. The five dimensions of digital transformation for RCL Foods are identified as: company culture, empowered teams, customer experience, innovation and data as a strategic asset. The way in which each aspect is perceived and managed would likely determine the outcome and strategic direction of the organisation, ultimately to assist a sustainable solution for digital transformation.

At RCL Foods we embrace digital transformation and are making progress towards managing each dimension.

1. Our culture

Our company culture is all about more impact: being braver, more curious, more open, faster, and ultimately, being more ‘Us’. Our culture embraces seeing and doing things differently, we acknowledge that digital cannot be owned by one person, but should be embedded as part of the culture. We strive to involve everyone through intrapreneurship (internal entrepreneurship).

2. A team of teams

RCL Foods recently opened a studio to encourage collaboration and creative thinking to drive solutions. The studio is open to anyone in the organisation and holds weekly meetings to ‘lunch and learn’, hosted by the dedicated studio team under the lead of digital marketing manager, David Pugh. The idea is to encourage the creation of a team of teams within the organisation, aiming to embed digital thinking into individuals within the teams. As Stanley McChrystal writes in his book ‘Team of Teams’, “Leaders should be gardeners. You are not playing a game of chess where you dictate every move. You create an environment where every piece can simultaneously grow, like a gardener.”

3. Customer experience

Instead of looking for ideas and getting stuck on tools or technology, we aim to solve problems and ultimately improve the overall customer experience. An idea can be great, but without a need addressed, customers would not be queuing for the solution.

4. Innovation

We see and do things differently. We are on a journey to change the way we innovate – to test quickly and fail smart. We aim to test ideas, as opposed to implementing a full solution. First test the existence and viability of a customer need, then work on the full solution. We look to go from a maximum validated product to a minimum viable product. If an idea does not work, we find this out quicker – we fail smart.

5. Data

Finally, we bring everything together through data. One of the biggest challenges companies face today, is to turn data into a strategic asset. Be sure to ask the correct questions – watch and listen to your customers. Once you understand their needs, you will know which questions to ask and what data you need to answer each.

Digital transformation is changing the way in which companies operate, and sometimes, even how companies are structured. To embrace the change, we need to be fully prepared for change, and embrace each individual’s ideas within a company. The digital transformation journey should start with a change in the mind-set of top leadership; we require buy-in from all business and operational levels. Digital transformation can only be successful if everyone is involved. So make sure you go all in – there has never been a better time.

For more information contact Hilde Volschenk, RCL Foods, +27 31 242 8595,,

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