Digital Evolution: the constant digital transformation

The most adapted species survive, said Charles Darwin. For Bill Coutinho, the same goes for companies that want to survive in the digital world, as long as they abandon the ‘way of doing’ of the last century.

It is a strong statement, but true: companies that from now on are not willing to change constantly will die. If the speed of business transformation were not sufficient evidence, the pandemic came and it opened wide that the predictable world in which long-term planning could be done, no longer exists. The coronavirus showed the weakness of the model that reigned during the 20th century.

Since the 21st century began, we have been working on the idea of digital transformation and have concluded that companies need to adapt. Then came the concept of digital acceleration, born from the realization that the market is changing very quickly and companies need to accelerate their digitalization.

This is where the British naturalist Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution comes in: the species that best adapt to the environment are those that survive. In the digital transformation, however, the market left the impression that there would be a final objective, that is, the process ends for those who are ‘transformed’. But time has shown that the speed of change is as great as it is continuous.

Added to this is the current pandemic, a new concept is born: Digital Evolution. Those companies that even ‘pushed with the belly’ the transformation, still insisting on maintaining the model of the last century, faced the unknown. Even the executives who claimed to know the market and the customer, with the crisis, had to deal with uncertainty.

A model in which we all descend from the pedestal admitting that we know little is one that allows us to understand any scenario and adapt – and here I remember Socrates, the Greek philosopher, and his maxim “All I know is that I know nothing”.

The process of evolving digitally

It is clear that the 20th century model played an important role. The companies’ agenda was based on the concept of efficiency, from lean, the ‘doing more with less’. It worked really well. But when you are extremely efficient at something, the ability to adapt decreases. As digitalization of business has progressed, corporate empires as traditional as Kodak, for example, have become so fragile that they have collapsed. No one was more efficient at making and selling photographic films … until no one else needed them.

Still, the ‘doing more with less’ agenda remains common. But in a society in constant change, the fundamental question arises: doing more of what ?! Digital Evolution makes us realize that it is more important to continuously discover what the market expects from a business than the most efficient way to do it.

It can therefore be concluded that digital transformation is no longer sufficient. A company that is satisfied after “transforming” will soon be left behind again. It is an infinite and dynamic process, which requires a new way of doing things supported by digital technologies.

What determines digital evolution?

It is mainly the ability to create and evolve digital products in much faster cycles than in the past. At Cinq, we have a set of methodologies that support us in this objective – and that I intend to detail in a next article.

The purpose of these methods and practices, driven by the concept of Digital Transformation, is mainly to make organizations able to adapt and face the existential risks that pursue them – and that will never cease to exist.

By Bill Coutinho, director of innovation at Dextra/Cinq.