DLD16 special: Communicating digital culture drives reputation

18.01.2016 Digitale Kommunikation von Frederic Van Camp 

The Digital-Life-Design conference 2016 once again brings together the global digital movers and shakers, but with a focus to think and philosophise. Day one saw thought-inspiring speeches on "life in the infosphere" (Luciano Floridi), about "the exchange rate" of personal data (Margrethe Vestager) or explaining the "third industrial revolution" (Jeremy Rifkin).

At the end of the day, these paradigm changes are driven by businesses who are shaking up their markets with digital innovation. In return, the entrepreneurs who drive these businesses receive investment and much media attention. Oliver Samwer (co-founder Rocket Internet), Niklas Zennström (founder Skype) and Reed Hastings (founder Netflix) are just three vanguards also present at this conference.

However, change doesn't come through disruption alone. It also takes visionary leaders amongst established players such as Tom Enders (Airbus Group), Lutz Schüler (Unitymedia) or Oliver Bäte (Allianz SE) to drive digital innovation through within their respective industries – a challenge that is often harder to overcome than starting up with fresh ideas in greenfield ventures. The downside for these business established leaders is that with the risk of failing, especially with the angst-driven business culture in Germany, they have much more at stake than the invested capital. Their biggest risk is to loose their reputation as successful managers.

One of the most vital factors in big change processes is transparent communication with all stakeholders. Mistakes in themselves are often not the real reason for failure. In many instances it is the lack of transparent communication that creates a dangerous gap between calculated risk and perceived failure. This is why a key requirement of a successful innovative digital entrepreneur is to also be a stellar communicator and at the top of their game in using social media.

Instinctif Partners recently published a study on the "digital culture" (in German) of the 30 highest turnover businesses in three industry sectors.

Siemens, Daimler, and Deutsche Bahn, especially had convincing digital communications around their digitalisation efforts by giving the topic of digitalisation a high level of strategic importance and by engaging with their stakeholders in open and transparent dialogues through digital communication channels. Other businesses such as BASF use digital channels well for their stakeholder engagements but they don't talk about the digitalisation of their business, leaving the conclusion open that they do not have a digitalisation strategy – a potentially alarming signal to investors.

Bringing the digitalisation into the DNA of the "old econmoy" requires a change of culture. With cultural change often facing strong opposition, mostly based on fear of the unknown, stakeholder engagement becomes a critical success factor for digitalisation and when done well will no doubt boost a businesses reputation.

# Kommunikation # Digitalisierung