Perhaps it is the 14 years he leads the Cocktail that led Alberto Knapp (Madrid, 1971) to reject the concept of digital transformation as empty and hackneyed. Your company helps large corporations understand how technology is changing their business models. And it's not going badly. The consultant has 370 employees and has offices in four countries. His career has helped him identify the most common mistakes that companies make in this process of change.
- Making a mistake is the first step
Knapp argues that the first thing companies should do is ask themselves about the threat that technology poses to them, the part of their market that is changing. It is not the same to operate in a sector in which new business models emerge than in another that is very efficient and lower production prices. "Join any initiative never ends well," he says. "Many companies have stayed with projects adrift because they did not know where they had to go from the beginning." Although this lack of definition is relatively common, the consultant believes that it is a common mistake that usually ends up correcting. "It's part of their maturation process," he concludes.
It also highlights the importance of knowing how to manage expectations and remember that an initiative that promises more than what it is going to achieve is usually a failure. "Many attempts at transformation die because they do not receive the support needed by the process of change," he says. "You can not say that you are going to transform the company in six months because it is impossible. In this way, the transformation becomes something that never stops happening and ends up getting tired ".
Special mention deserves the expectations of the users, who use the experience provided by Google, Amazon or FacebookThey are set as a reference and expect your supermarket or bank to meet these standards. "The consumer is accustomed quickly to everything is resolved automatically and there companies that are not, will not respond to the needs of their customers," he illustrates.
- When the problem is at home
The challenges that most resist the big companies transcend borders, but there are others that can focus on the national level and the lack of references is one of the first. Knapp notes with optimism the maturation of the Spanish entrepreneurial panorama, but considers that a cultural transformation is still necessary. "In Spain, failure is punished, the serious thing is that success is also punished. When someone triumphs, they usually look bad, "he laments. "In other countries, you look at who has arrived high as someone who has contributed to society, who has changed things. This perspective helps to build icons, influential people that serve as inspiration ".
In Spain the failure is punished, the serious thing is that success is also punished.
The cultural barrier is not the only pending task in Spain. It is not unreasonable to say that the lack of funding is the most common complaint we can hear in business innovation events and forums. This is not the main concern of this entrepreneur, who believes that "there is enough capital in the market" and what companies need is "a clearer and simple legislative framework".
More than once we have heard that the power structure of companies will change and will tend to convert the areas of decision making. "Companies are not always aware that they have teams of young people closer to the problems and should give more importance to their decisions, "recalls the consultant.
The idea, which seems like a great revolution, is rather an evolution towards the way of managing a more complex reality and does not imply a loss of hierarchy or a tendency to horizontality. The best example is in the great technologies: they are not flat organizations, but their teams have enough freedom to make decisions. "The problem that companies have at this point is that transforming power structures involves everyone, it is not something that a committee decides and executes the company," he adds.
Employees are not the only ones that enter into the decision process of a company. Data analytics can provide valuable insights that can help set the direction of a company, but the human factor is still essential. A study by software company Qlik reveals that 38% of large corporations have difficulty understanding the information they collect. Intuition seems necessary when the transformation of society happens at a dizzying speed. "The context goes so fast that we are forced to make many decisions with very little information", summarizes the Madrid native. "The success of many companies is knowing how to handle decisions with very partial information."
Knapp makes apology for risk and invites corporations to leave their comfort zone, to feel uncomfortable and, from time to time, insecure. But he admits that, as long as the model they have always used continues to work, it will be difficult for them to recognize the challenges that lie ahead and face the energy cost they pose for the company. They will identify the need, but it will not be a priority for them. "Deciding to face this process is complicated, because you are aware that you will go through a traumatic period and you will have to make complicated decisions," he explains. "Being a continuist is more comfortable than making the decision to anticipate what is going to happen and change your company. The change augurs new problems and you have to be convinced that it's worth it to go through that. "