Usually when we share a set of beliefs, principles, rituals in a well defined setting, we are supposed to follow a specific culture. But what’s digital culture? And how can we define it?

Simply put, with the advent of various digital technologies for people to collaborate and high penetration of mobility and internet amongst customers and providers along with new ways of doing business using digital platforms (like Uber, Amazon and Netflix) have created a need for new set of core values and beliefs. These new “Ways of Working” can be called digital culture.

So how do we prepare for this new age? Before we define this, let us understand what are we trying to solve with this new culture?

  • Greater and faster collaboration
  • Quick experiments to fail faster
  • Strategy that addresses all including digital natives

Let us understand each of these aspects one by one.

Great and faster collaboration: People in many organizations believed in single location FGD or workshop models for any brainstorming activities. You would need an assistant figuring out the logistics for a dozen people coming from different locations. It was a very slow and cumbersome process. However with the increase in internet bandwidth, availability of sophisticated HD video conferences and innovations in high tech products in this space (Skype for business, Google Apps for Work etc) collaboration has become very fast, convenient and cheaper too.

But this requires new norms and beliefs to collaborate.

People need to be on time in every conference call. Keeping an agenda for each meeting, sharing pre-read in advance and facilitating very tightly are some of the rules of the new game.

Quick experiments: With the emergence of new consumers who have a low attention span and tons of digital content to consume, we as a business need to evolve our strategy much quicker than our competitions. Gone are the days when we would have enough time to deliberate an idea, strategize it at a greater length and execute it linearly. Rather, digital world demands to have a set of hypothesis created and proved or disapproved quickly to try something new. And to aid this process, we have ample of A/B testing and MVT tools.

How is it relevant to the cultural facet of the business?

It certainly means more risk taking and entrepreneurial environment wherein people feel motivated to take smaller bets without getting caught into hierarchical setup. Appreciating team members not only for taking risks but sometimes awarding them for failure is the new cultural mantra.

Strategy that addresses all including digital natives: Most of the industries have already undergone metamorphosis due to fast changing behaviors of their customers. Understanding your ever evolving customers need insights from digital natives too. Hippo (highest paid person’s opinion) in the room is no longer valid. It’s digital economy and it demands ideas coming from all quarters, especially from the younger lots and that can’t be ignored.

What impact does it have on culture?

Well, organizations have to evolve from title based positions to role based positions. Interview process needs to be modified. Job descriptions supporting number of years of experiences may undergo a change. Newer breed needs to be included in all aspects of business, from strategy to product development and customer servicing regardless of experience and hierarchy.  This would require creating newer dimensions of existing culture.

And finally I must admit, all this is not possible overnight. It’s a journey. Those organizations that have understood this need and created a roadmap to handle these newer culture nuances will succeed.  And those that are living in the glory of their historic achievements and methods, even if they helped grow their business in the past, may get marginalized sooner than later.