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Be Prepared: Digital Transformation Has Gone Viral

Thu Nov 26 2020

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The world is experiencing one of the most rapid periods of digital transformation. Make sure your team is prepared.

There were two moments that convinced me we are currently experiencing a once-in-a-generation period of digital transformation. The first was the well known graph from Adobe that made the rounds on TechCrunch, Forbes and elsewhere on the internet back in May. The data showed that the pandemic has accelerated ecommerce growth by “4-6 years.”


The second was a more personal moment. During the lockdown period in March and April, my wife started participating in a workout class via Zoom. Once the restrictions were eased, she was able to join the in-person class again. However, she commented that if she could, she would continue joining the online class because of its convenience.


All of this is to drive home a point that should be clear. The world is moving online at a dramatic pace. In this world, if you aren’t doing everything to transform your business, then you risk being left behind. But don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with another lecture on the technological changes you need to embrace to transform your business. Those should be obvious and there are plenty of resources available to help you in that process.


Where I can offer some help is by offering some lessons and insights about how you and your team can embrace and prepare for rapid transformation. These lessons come from my own experience as a startup founder and team leader, but also from the people I work with on the Velo team. Velo is aimed at developers, a market that is steeped in the rapid shifts that technology enables, and that has helped us all prepare for this moment.


In order to reach this audience, we needed to build a team that is capable of spinning on a dime, and adapting to a landscape that doesn’t just shift quickly, it barely stands still. So I asked my team the lessons they’ve learned adapting to a rapidly changing digital landscape - from before COVID-19 and after. Here are the insights they provided, and two of my own thrown in for good measure:


Work with People You Like, But Don’t Fall in Love with An Idea


Here are two leadership lessons that I learned from my startup days, and the first I learned the hard way.


First, no matter how brilliant you think your idea is or how much you love it, you need to test it. Test, test, test. If it works, congratulations, but if it doesn’t you need to be able to let go and move on to the next idea. No one knows what the market wants or how quickly it can change, and the only person who did know was Steve Jobs and he died in 2011.


Second, if you’re going to build a team and then push that team to adapt to a business landscape that’s changing faster than anything that’s come before it - you should work with people you like. Smart people - yes. Driven people - yes. But don’t forget that you will be interacting closely with your team. Getting along with them shouldn’t be overlooked.


Online Events - It’s Time to Think Small


“An online conference is not a one-to-one replacement for an offline conference.” That’s what Simona Goikhman, Velo Strategic Partnerships & Growth Team Lead, tells me. Her team has learned that while in the past we could attend large, thousand person conferences and achieve our goals, in an online world you need to be much more targeted.


“Everything is online now, so people are overwhelmed with opportunities for online events. It’s not just about finding smaller, targeted events that are a good fit for the audience, but also finding different ways to connect outside of what existed in the offline world.”


For our team, that meant replacing some of our event focus with alternative efforts such as collaborating with online education platforms. They may seem like different tools, but in the end they can achieve the same goal. The bottom line is that as the market shifts, you can achieve your goals through different means.


Finding Your Audience - Make Yourself Available


Ok, this may sound obvious, but it’s not for many people across multiple industries. If your audience is online, you need to be online too. And that doesn’t just mean your brand, but also your team as professionals.


“One of the most helpful resources for me that has emerged during the pandemic is a Slack channel for developers,” said Joshua Alphonse, Velo Developer Advocate, who engages directly with the community we are trying to reach.


“The large communities - places like Reddit or Stack Overflow - can be harder to engage with. So it’s important to find alternate, or small communities where you can form personal connections with people. It’s key because I, for one, have needed to replace those personal interactions I used to have at real world events or meet-ups.”


The other lesson is that if you make yourself available online, as a professional, via channels such as Twitter and elsewhere, your potential users or customers will find you there. Those online interactions are critical in a time when face-to-face interactions are no longer the norm.


Keeping Up with Technology and Trends - Think of it Like the Gym


Keeping track of technology, or whatever the latest development in your industry is, can be taxing and challenging. You probably have a full load just keeping up with your own work, so staying up to date with new trends can feel like a request too far.


However, as Mor Gilad, Velo Marketing Professional Team Lead, explains, sometimes it’s not just about learning new trends, but exercising the part of your mind that learns new information.


“Any professional should know their domain. On one hand, that means being able to solve problems with your current knowledge, on the other, if you take yourself seriously, you will constantly add new skills to your toolkit. However, beyond that is the ability to incorporate new ways of solving problems into your workflow, and that only comes from constantly learning new things and trying them out.”


The ability to try new strategies during a time of rapid change will tax the same parts of your brain that you rely on when you learn about new trends or technologies, so like a muscle keep that part of your mind in shape.


The world right now can seem overwhelming with all the challenges we are facing. Throw in the way our professional lives are changing, and it can feel like it takes everything you have just to keep up with the changes. However, if you don’t embrace those changes, you risk being left behind during one of the fastest periods of transformation we’ve seen. Hopefully, the insights provided above can help you find your own unique way to tackle the changing digital landscape.


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