Dropbox Business Blog UK — Dominik Grau: Top tips for companies beginning a Digital Transformation Journey

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19th Oct, 2017 — 5 min read

Dominik Grau: Top tips for companies beginning a Digital Transformation Journey

Digitalisation has seen several nations emerge as innovative, digital leaders; San Francisco and its Silicon Valley, London and its Silicon Roundabout, even the small country of Estonia is considered to be leading digital innovation in Europe.
Which makes the story of Dominik Grau, Chief Innovation Officer at Ebner Media Group, even more remarkable, as Germany is currently only operating at 10% of its digital potential. Dominik is pioneering change in Germany, leading Ebner - a 200-year old publishing firm, now widely considered a hugely successful multi-platform business - through innovative digital transformation.

Dominik, who’s now moving the business into mobile says one of the biggest challenges at the start was convincing the business to change: “We had to make our people understand why it was important to adopt a new digital approach to build our audience. We are a very old company and needed to transform the way we think.

It’s not that our team didn’t have the skill sets, but their mindsets were framed differently. Our approach was to help them transform their every-day operations by talking to them, giving them new routines and goals, and providing the right tools to support them. Proper communication, justifying the change, and generating excitement about the opportunities the change presented was key.”

Now, as Ebner enters year six of its digital transformation journey, Dominik says if they can do it, anyone can - but his advice is to stick to a three-stepped process; audience, people, technology.

1) Take an ‘audience-first’ approach

“Changing for changes sake is pointless and you’ll likely not achieve your objectives. Always ask, ‘What is my audience doing? How are they changing? How have their habits changed? How can we update our approach to be more in line with these new habits?’1) Take an ‘audience-first’ approach: “Changing for changes sake is pointless and you’ll likely not achieve your objectives. Always ask, ‘What is my audience doing? How are they changing? How have their habits changed? How can we update our approach to be more in line with these new habits?’Some businesses still fail to understand the importance of putting the audience first and the dangers are obvious. Businesses need to become a trusted partner in the eyes of their audience; this leads to longevity, giving you an opportunity to create new products that could help generate revenue in a few years.”

2) Build an appetite for change inside your business

“Once you understand what’s at stake, and what the audience wants, start the internal communication, so you can get the buy-in underway. In the early days, 75% of my time was spent communicating with teams around the world; in fact, I’d say still nearly 50% of my time is spent communicating. Communication is key to any digital transformation strategy. 2) Build an appetite for change inside your business: “Once you understand what’s at stake, and what the audience wants, start the internal communication so you can get the buy-in underway. In the early days, 75% of my time was spent communicating with teams around the world; in fact, I’d say still nearly 50% of my time is spent communicating. Communication is key to any digital transformation strategy.

We started by saying ‘here is the information you need, what are your concerns etc’. From there we transformed the entire board, and the culture started to change. We presented the facts and convinced them change was necessary. Once we had buy in from the board we established the New Ebner Academy, which educated our employees on the key elements of our transformation.”

3) Invest in the right technology and service providers

“Understanding what your audience wants then building an appetite for change amongst your leaders and colleagues forms the critical part of your strategy - the tactical part of digital transformation though comes from selecting the right technology and service providers to deliver it. 3) Invest in the right technology and service providers: “Understanding what your audience wants then building an appetite for change amongst your leaders and colleagues forms the critical part of your strategy - the tactical part of digital transformation though comes from selecting the right technology and service providers to deliver it.

At Ebner, we have a standard monthly evaluation of the company, constantly asking ‘what is it that we need to make this work’ and ‘what’s available on the market’. From that we drill down our list into a top three, then work on a much deeper evaluation of them. Once that’s done, we go into a trial phase. Whenever we test tools, we ensure we lock down the feedback from our users. They tell us what they think, we evaluate the success, then we either push the trial deeper, or make the purchase. Everything is very much feedback based.”

You can find out more about the Ebner story by clicking here. For now though, for anyone embarking on their own digital transformation journey, we’ll leave you with Dominik’s last piece of brilliant advice: “Open your eyes and never look back, because the future never ends. And on those days when you feel like you’re going around in circles, remember, tomorrow will always be better than today. Don’t regret yesterday, you can’t change the past but you can very well change the future.”

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