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Digitisation as problem solving or the art of cutting an elephant

Digitalisation is probably the single factor that will be most crucial to the survival of many businesses in the years ahead. Are you keeping up and adapting to the new rules of the game? You don't have to be Einstein to figure out that this can feel overwhelming. And that feeling that it's too much to take in, that you can't cope, is a very common reason why people simply give up. This blog post is written just for you who feel that way sometimes.

Digitalisation has many faces and we may soon stop talking about it as a single phenomenon. If we zoom in a bit, we see that digitalisation is made up of lots of different technologies that give us new opportunities and that are combined in different ways to solve business, organisational, societal and everyday problems. So working with digitisation can be seen as a form of problem solving, or opportunity seeking if you like, because sometimes we find solutions to problems we didn't know we had. As with problem solving, it is rarely fruitful to try to take in all the complexity at once, but it is better to break it down into smaller pieces and focus on one thing at a time. Of course, there is a risk with this approach: that you lose the big picture. Successful digitisation therefore means constantly switching between the big picture and the small picture and ensuring that they are connected.

Problem solving

But if we go back to digitisation as problem solving, we often want to solve complex problems, using complex technologies and solutions. Complexity means that something is made up of many parts that are interconnected in a way that is difficult to understand, and the best way to understand what is complex is usually to break it down into smaller parts, make sure you understand each one separately, and then try to understand how the parts are connected. This sounds like an impossible undertaking if we're talking about digitisation in general, but the fact is that it's almost always possible to break a problem down into smaller parts. This is an important guiding principle for us at AddPro when we help our customers with digitalisation. Admittedly, we often start in the big picture, because we want to make sure that together with the customer we don't miss any important part.

For example, together with the client, we look at the client's business model, the major trends in the industry and the requirements and expectations of the client's customers. We set this against the broader context of digitalisation and various relevant technologies. Once we have an overall picture, we work with the client to identify the challenges and opportunities that we see in relation to digitalisation.

Identify & understand the problem

In the process, one or more more more or less specific problems almost always emerge that the customer needs solved. Together with the client, we twist and turn the problem to ensure that the question is asked correctly. This is where many people settle too quickly and rush for the first best solution. But by being persistent in this step, and actually allowing yourself to turn the problem around enough to understand it, the solution to the problem will not only be easier to find, it will also be much better. Often we need to break down both the problem and the solution into sub-steps. It may also be the case that we find several possible solutions to the problem. In the case of a complex problem, it may be useful to test several different solutions in parallel on a small scale and then evaluate them to see their different advantages and disadvantages, while learning more about the problem. When we finally find a solution that we believe in, and that we know works based on small-scale testing, we can scale up the solution. It is only when the solution is scaled up that the customer gets to see its full potential. It is also at this stage that it becomes clear if you have rushed past the problem formulation too quickly and are left with a solution that does not work fully.

Digitisation is complex, but the opportunities are great. With a good problem-solving process and an experimental approach where necessary, even entirely new opportunities can be seized without too many dead ends. Would you like to discuss the opportunities that digitalisation brings to your business? Get in touch with AddPro today and we'll help you dial in how you can best use digitalisation to solve your challenges!