Business is increasingly digital. The move online is often called “digital transformation,” which is a simpler way to say embedding digital technology into business processes and customer experiences. Digital transformation covers everything from automation to artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. And it’s on a clear upward trend: IDC reports that global spending on digital transformation is forecast to reach $2.8 trillion in 2025—double what it was in 2020.
Reinventing work practices requires redefining work culture. That’s especially true with digital transformation. To implement new tools and automated work processes, you need people who are willing and able to use them, with a robust digital culture as your foundation.
What is digital culture?
Digital culture is a workplace shaped and influenced by digital tools and technologies. In companies with advanced digital cultures, most employees use digital tech to collaborate, innovate and offer customers access to products, services and support.
What does that look like? In practice, companies with sophisticated digital cultures:
- Use digital communication tools to make work faster and easier
- Build genuine connections between employees working remotely
- Automate repetitive processes
- Create inclusive online environments
- Enable meaningful online customer experiences
Why digital culture is important
Digital cultures allow you to grow, innovate quickly and adapt to customer needs. As the global marketplace heads toward digitalization, mature digital cultures help you stay agile and future-proof your business. Here are some of its many benefits:
Fewer barriers and greater transparency
Digital workplaces allow more effective communication and connection between teams, even those that don’t usually work together. They help you tear down silos and build bridges to share knowledge across channels. And because leaders have more and better tools for sharing important information, strong digital-first cultures tend to be more open and transparent at the company level.
Greater agility and adaptability
Digital tools help you stay nimble and respond to disruptions. If your customers’ needs change regularly, your company and product need to follow them to win the market. A digital culture helps you pivot when you need to. It lets leaders interact with all levels of the company and quickly communicate new directions or priorities. And it empowers your frontline teams to shift how they work in response to those directions.
Enhanced collaboration and innovation
Rather than setting up meetings that waste time, tools like asynchronous video let you collaborate with your team when it’s convenient. They save time. They also help connect people in other regions and time zones, fostering creativity and innovation.
Enhanced data collection
When you put more of your business online, you have more data. If you collect and analyze it, you can uncover patterns, identify inefficiencies and make decisions that improve the way you work. Digital platforms for customers give you the power to understand customer preferences, collect feedback and help you design products and experiences your customers will love.
Digital culture success stories
Some companies are ahead of the curve in creating robust digital cultures. A few standouts—including TD Ameritrade, DocSpring and Up—have successfully embedded digital tools into their company cultures.
TD Ameritrade’s digital culture helps scale collaboration and transparency
In March 2020, TD Ameritrade suddenly had to expand its digital workplace. It had about 1,500 employees working remotely, and it needed to increase that number to 10,000. The shift wasn’t as simple as broadcasting a work-from-home announcement. Instead, business leaders needed to consistently deliver information that everyone could access, troubleshoot technical difficulties and support supervisors managing remote teams, among many other challenges.
They shifted successfully because they had already implemented the tools they needed. They used Slack channels to share files, cut through the regional and departmental silos and increase accessibility to critical company information. They also developed a custom Slack app called BetterBot to automate answers to the most frequently asked employee questions.
TD Ameritrade’s emails decreased by 30% within six months of launching Slack. Employee engagement also increased. For example, the readership rate of companywide emails in the retail business segment had been only 50% before 2020. After implementing an #announcement channel in Slack, readership in that segment rocketed to 99%. The custom bot created companywide efficiencies and now answers 2,500 support questions a week.
For TD Ameritrade, the digital culture it began nurturing by introducing communication tools like Slack enabled it to quickly move online when it was most important.
DocSpring implemented digital tools to respond to customer feedback more effectively
DocSpring is a young startup that helps its customers generate documents and automate workflows. While its product helps automate workflows, many of its own internal workflows were inefficient. Customer success teams relied on multiple disconnected tools to keep track of customer feedback and feature requests. The disorganized system made it challenging to effectively respond to customer needs and build better products.
To address this, the company’s leaders implemented a feature-request tracking software that integrated with their customer support tool, email and Slack. By centralizing their customer feedback in one place, they could see more clearly what their customers were saying about their product and work more efficiently.
Up’s digital-first culture helped the Australian fintech startup scale to 340,000 customers
Young Australians have much different banking needs than their parents. Up, the digital banking startup, formed in 2018 to meet those needs by providing a sleek banking app supported by excellent customer service. The app offers real-time spending insights and a suite of features to help customers budget, spend, save and transfer money easily. Its focus on simple but powerful digital features has paid off: It’s earned more than 340,000 customers since launching, and it continues to grow quickly.
Up is digital to its core. The team uses Slack to coordinate responses to customer support requests and maintains an average of four minutes to respond. That’s blisteringly fast: the industry average is between four hours and four days. Its communication tools also help unite its engineering, product, customer support and marketing teams. When the engineering team fixes a bug, support and marketing can coordinate to let customers know immediately.
The digital culture that Up built is part of the reason why it’s successfully met the needs of a digital-native generation and offers the very best customer support.
A digital culture requires the best digital communication tools
Going digital used to be about standing out from the competition. Now it’s about keeping up. Companies are becoming more digital, and digital transformation works best when it’s supported by a robust digital culture. The teams best prepared for change use modern digital communication tools, feel comfortable learning new ones and continually adapt how they work.