Lessons we learned from digital transformation – and some we didn’t

We’ve spent many, many hours talking about digital transformation and its impact on cyber security. We’ve spoken to CEOs, Founders, IT Directors and CISOs. We’ve hosted webinars, filmed videos and written blog posts til our fingers bled (well, almost). 

But we haven’t talked about us yet. Not once. And that doesn’t seem right, somehow. We’ve had to make the same changes as the rest of the world, and we’d be lying if we said it’s been easy or gone entirely smoothly. 

And you know what? It’s relatively easy telling other people what perfect looks like, and what they should be doing in their business. What’s much harder is achieving that state – or even coming close to it – yourself. 

So we thought we’d share some insights and learnings from our own imperfect, hurried digital transformation, because no one is perfect, and we should talk about that more, sharing learnings and lessons as we go. 

1) Spotting and resolving unrealistic processes should be a priority 

This isn’t always easy. Especially with employees working remotely and limited visibility of how they’re operating.

Here’s one example that we resolved pretty quickly… 

We have the A-team in-house when it comes to policies and processes. 

But we also have Holly and Tony. 

So, with different team members firmly occupying spaces at opposite ends of the process-driven spectrum, we had to find a middle ground quickly. Telling, asking or begging our marketing mavericks to follow long-winded, complicated processes that slowed down their ability to help us communicate externally and adapt our offerings was counterproductive. Especially when they didn’t see the point, and kept arguing that it was wasting a lot of time… 

Instead, compromise was key. 

Now some data or documentation – like public-facing info (fortunately that’s the bulk of what they deal with!) or content for approval – doesn’t need people to follow the same rigorous processes and policies as those designed to protect sensitive information.

So, we came up with an amendment to one of our marketing processes that works for everyone – it saves time, headaches and arguments, and goes something like this… 

Any marketing materials that will be public-facing can be shared directly with team members for approval using our agreed platform. They only need to be saved on our network once approved. 

It cuts out unnecessary roadblocks during the early stages of creative development, makes access easy – even when internet connection is limited – and means Holly and Tony can focus on doing what they do best (which certainly isn’t admin…), saving their administrative energy for the relatively rare times they do handle confidential data. 

2) Nothing is ever as simple as you expect. So test stuff. Lots. And learn to love backup plans 

Honestly, we learnt this lesson about 50 million times. 

Whether it’s devices, passwords, network connections, access to information, phone systems, new, hurriedly put together processes and policies… 

It probably won’t work the first time you go to use it. Or the second. Maybe the third, if you’ve got wizardry in your genes. 

In fact – a good rule of thumb is as soon as you need it, or are totally reliant on it, it won’t work for some unfathomable reason. 

For instance – we use video software to meet with team-members, prospects and clients remotely. But this is reliant on the internet. 

Which has a habit of packing up just as you start getting to the meat of a conversation. 

There is no way of fixing this (trust us, even hours on the phone to your internet provider yields few results). There’s no secret magic sauce to combat the law of sod. You just have to test whatever it is you need to use before it’s required, and prepare for it to not work.

So prepare a plan B. And maybe a plan C too, if it’s really important. 

It’s the only way to navigate the world of tech successfully. 

3) Humans have short memories (after all, we share 68% of our DNA with goldfish…) 

When your team members have been away from their machines for a period of time, expecting them to remember where they were before everything kicked off is somewhat naive… and yes, we learnt this the hard way. 

While we were consumed by keeping your business afloat, and barely saw the sun through lockdown as we poured over financials, projections and strategy… 

Some of the team were drinking cocktails. Gardening. Walking in the woods. Spending time with their families and rediscovering their forgotten flair for cooking, dancing or writing. Or maybe they were juggling screaming children, biting their nails anxiously as they watched the world go by out the window, or thinking of nothing but what the future may hold. 

Either way, they were distracted.

And it wasn’t just for a week or two. It was a long time. Brains reset. Memories fade. Priorities shift. 

In hindsight, we should have seen this coming. But we didn’t. 

Nothing went too drastically wrong, and everyone managed to get back into the swing of things relatively quickly… 

But we wish we’d thought about mini re-onboarding processes. A day spent going over policies, processes, expectations and updates would have made a big difference to how smoothly everyone returned to work. 

Are we any wiser now? 

We’d like to think so. If a second wave hits us and we have to endure another lockdown, we have a good idea of how we might do things differently, at least. 

And that’s the important thing. It’s the same principle we preach whenever we talk about cyber security. 

It’s not about getting it right every time. Or being perfect. Or even looking good to the outside world. It’s about consistently progressing, improving, learning and adapting. It’s about building confidence and making progress – not necessarily being perfect.