Missing the Boat in the Digital Transformations Eras

If we look through recent history, many companies were caught or blindsided and had to shut their doors because their leader did not see the “unexpected” digital transformations. We are all familiar with examples, like Blackberry, Compaq, Blockbuster, Palm, Napster, Polaroid, AOL, Toys R Us, Kodak, Borders, etc.

More recently, many companies were impacted by the “Amazon Effect” where the ongoing evolution and disruption of the retail market, both online and in physical outlets, resulting from the shift to increased e-commerce. Again should the leaders have been surprised and not prepared.

How do you continue to thrive as an organization or a leader with the tsunami of technological change coming; AI, AR, IoT, Quantum Computing, Blockchain, Biometrics, etc.?

I was discussing this issue with Ahmed Afzal, former CEO of Madhya F&B, under Trakindo Group. He managed Carl’s Jr, Wingstop, Caribou Coffee, and GAB. He also had a regional stint with UNESCO and worked at Tektronix Inc and Sumitomo Corporation of America in the US.

I asked him the main reasons leaders and even entrepreneurs failed to see in the digital transformation eras?

He shared the three main reasons why so many executives missed the boat in the digital transformations eras citing research from IRIS Indonesia.

The three are:

  1. First, the lack of long term strategic view on technology – rapid change and tsunami of options forces some executives to inject ad-hoc efforts to keep up with the rest. Unfortunately, many of these ‘experiments’ are not controlled tested nor sufficient long-term investments made.
  2. Second, the overload of data leads to confusion in decision-making, and having appropriate action taken. Executives need expert analysis, which may be outsourced to help them filter all the data into something that is digestible and more precise for timely decisions.
  3. Third, only focus on easy, piecemeal investments in technology to get short term gains and keep up with the herd instead of digital transformation as the core revenue generator. And it must encompass a total review, which includes focusing on transforming business models, processes, job scopes, and even the talent strategy.

What We Must Learn

How ready are you for this next upcoming digital tsunami? What are you doing? How are you educating your team, organization on how to leverage the imminent technological changes
So I asked Afzal the proverbial question, How do you get an organization ready to make sure they are not left behind?

He shared four points you should consider:

  1. Make sure your current team and future hires are open to change and digital transformation as part of the fabric of the company culture – everyone must be an innovator. Encourage risk-taking!
  2. Ensure your staff is getting professional training on how technology is changing the way they work now or in the near future — connecting leadership and staff with their customer’s ever-changing needs in the field.
  3. All employees individual development plans must have a clear development agenda on the digital role in their department. Management should remove barriers and encourage everyone to challenge current SOPs with Technology.
  4. Company strategic plan must be in-line with current updates impact of new technology in your respective industry. What new start-ups are there in our industry? Allocate 10% of budget for R&D on new technology projects.

If you are not taking some of the steps above for your organization, you may be blindsided. If you think you are ready for everything – how prepared were you for COVID 19?

What We Need to Learn
In my soon to be released book called The Next Right Turn: Making the right career steps in a digital world, coauthor Dr. Mark Munoz, I suggest these four stages of getting your people ready.


Employees need to upgrade their skills and pursue lifelong learning to keep their jobs. The competition will be tough, and employees need to differentiate their skills and focus on where they can truly add value


Many new technological gadgets and tools will emerge; employees need to learn to embrace technology quickly. There will be machines (or already are) and robots in the workplace; employees need to know to work hand in hand with machines and practice symbiotic computing.


Emerging technologies will be daunting to many; employees need to overcome technological insecurity and fear by changing their attitude and taking gradual steps towards progress. Companies will be very focused on profitability and productivity enhancement, employees, need to optimize resource usage to truly stand out in the organization.


Employees need to take charge of their own destiny and design their own personal development journey through a Personal Career Development Plan. Employees need to be game-changers and innovators, leveraging talent, and resources to make a difference in the company and achieve the pinnacle of success.

Stephen Krempl

Stephen Krempl

Global Speaker, Facilitator, Best Selling Author and Business Communication Coach. www.kremplcommunications.com