Setting the record straight: top five digital myths

Bulls get angry when they see the color red. Napoleon was abnormally short. Everyone once thought the world was flat. It takes seven years to digest a piece of chewing gum.

We have all fallen victim to common myths and misconceptions passed down through tribal knowledge. The same goes for business and technology. Think about all the word spreading about the impending robot apocalypse à la Terminator’s Skynet (much to the credit of Elon Musk who thinks Siri is the scariest thing next to Kim Jong Un).

With business leaders and technologists all looking towards digital transformation and innovation in their organizations, it comes as no surprise that there would be some hearsay passed around between peers. In a recent Gartner, Inc. webinar, Janelle B. Hill, VP distinguished analyst, was kind enough to share and dispel five common myths to innovation. Let’s set the record straight, shall we?

1. It’s clear who your best innovators are

During most big innovation projects, senior leaders presume that they can lean on their top performers to usher in transformation. They think that these are going to be the best innovators and champions for change because they have a baseline for success. In reality, these team members may excel in the status quo, but not thrive in the new way of doing things. The best innovators are often new employees, who can pull from outside experiences to help foster change. Companies should open up the dialogue with new hires and get fresh eyes on their processes.

2. ROI is the most important metric

A clear, quick return on investment (ROI) is typically seen as the metric for success, especially from a financial executive’s point of view. But, it should not be the focus for the organization as it’s experimenting, exploring how to shake things up, and learning how to best leverage new tools like robotic process automation and artificial intelligence. Typically, it’s not until after this initial learning phase that you can find real data that justifies the project. How long it takes to get these results may be more valuable than a ROI. Best practice is to experiment, make quick wins, and fail fast to find what works.

3. People know what they want

Some companies think that employees and customers know exactly what changes they want to see from an organization. In truth, most are unclear. Instead, you can observe how things work and look for areas for improvement. From there, it becomes clearer what changes should be made and what systems can be put in place. Consider looking at the front office, where a company and its customers interact. Perhaps you need to speed up the online transaction process, better route customers to the appropriate agent, or provide employees the right information to answer a customer inquiry–in these cases introducing dynamic workflows could help.

4. The value of a good idea is self-evident

The originator of an idea or innovation often thinks they have come up with the best thing since sliced bread. The problem is the value of an idea doesn’t always translate so well to others, namely top executives who have to sign off on it. During the webinar, Hill suggested thinking outside of standard PowerPoints and look for ways to show, rather than tell, the value proposition of an innovation. Consider creating a prototype of the solution that you can demonstrate to executives and illustrate its value.

5. Big problems need big solutions

There is a tendency to think that all big problems require big solutions, as well as big money and effort. Actually, sometimes the smallest innovation can far exceed its original cost or purpose for implementation. For instance, one tweak to simplify the transaction process could significantly improve the customer experience, leading to better retention and sizable revenue growth for the enterprise at large. Companies need to keep an eye out for these small changes that can lead to big results.

In truth, bulls are colorblind to the color red. Napoleon was actually above average height for his time. A lot more people beyond Christopher Columbus knew the world is round. You digest chewing gum just as fast as any other food. And, only time will tell if Elon Musk’s robot enslavement prophecy comes true. Beyond that, hopefully the above has cleared the air on some of the myths surrounding digital innovation and that it will help set your enterprise on the right path to digital transformation.