Earlier this week, I was moderating a panel on digital transformation at a Software AG event in New York. In opening the event, Kevin Niblock, Software AG's North America President and COO, described digital business as "a cultural phenomenon." Organizational culture plays an enormous role in the ability of a company's employees to transform a traditional business into a digital business.
If you're not the CEO, you might be forgiven for thinking that you have little control over your corporate culture. But we all have the opportunity to shape our organization's culture. And while nurturing the company culture is arguably one of the most important jobs of the CEO, it is also a critical capability for any leader.
Former IBM Chairman and CEO, Lou Gerstner, reminds us of this in an excellent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article: "The Culture Ate Our Corporate Reputation". Gerstner writes: "What is critical to understand here is that people do not do what you expect but what you inspect. Culture is not a prime mover. Rather it is a derivative. It forms as a result of signals employees get from the corporate processes that structure their work priorities."
Marketers often voice their frustration to me about the rate of turnover at their agencies. It is hard to lose a great team member, but it’s more difficult to be left holding the bag for bringing someone new up to speed on the business.
And this happens frequently. Agencies compete with each other, tech companies, startups and brands to attract and retain the best employees. Many use culture as a differentiator in the talent wars. In fact, 77% of agencies we surveyed listed culture as a way to engage and retain employees. Even with these efforts, agencies suffer from low employee morale and rising employee turnover.
For this reason, it’s critical for marketers to pay attention to an agency’s efforts towards building and nurturing its culture. Marketers that build this evaluation into the agency vetting process and look for a cultural fit will experience less turnover on accounts, higher quality work and a better relationship with their agency.
And agencies that connect leadership behavior, hiring efforts, employee engagement and new business efforts to culture will build working environments that attract and retain talent, while delivering superior client experience.
Today in the US, we are gearing up to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with lively music, ice-cold margaritas, colorful clothing — the works. But while many Americans use the day to revel in the trappings of Mexican culture, they often don’t realize that the holiday is actually met with little pomp and circumstance in Mexico itself.
Cinco de Mayo is one of many traditions that have been adopted — and appropriated — across country borders. But the holiday represents a larger concept that applies to people, too: As individuals relocate around the world, they spark cultural variations and build unique identities in their own right.
For example, Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey data shows that Mexican-born individuals who now live in the US develop distinct behaviors and attitudes: Not only do these longer-tenured US residents become more comfortable sharing sensitive data (like financial information) online, they also increasingly execute digital transactions:
It’s interesting to note that even though metropolitan Mexico and the US have similar mobile penetration rates, the device profile, technology attitudes, and digital behaviors that characterize Mexican consumers shift after they settle in the US.
Macro trends in technology and shifting customer behavior are giving rise to the connected business — which is not defined by technology but is rather a new style of doing business. The responsibility for transforming a company into a connected business ultimately rests with the CEO, but the CIO also plays a central role.
CIOs will be responsible for introducing technology solutions that help break down silos, boost cross-team collaboration, drive the end-to-end customer experience, and engage more deeply with customers. In order to succeed, CIOs must go beyond technology enablement and support organizational and cultural transformation. It’s easier to implement technology innovations than to change habits and culture. Technology is only the catalyst for cultural and organizational transformation. As Jeroen Tas, CIO, Philips told me: