Digital transformation strategy does not understand serendipity

Digital transformation
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Digital transformation strategy does not understand serendipity

In a digital transformation  strategy, there is no place for Serendipity. What are the reasons behind the launch of a new product or service? We are not talking about economic, social or any other types of reason, but of the opportunity that a company or inventor detects to create a transforming product.  For example:

  • Dissatisfied customers
  • Market inefficiencies
  • New demographic or market segments
  • Unresolved frustrations
  • New technologies or products
  • New legislation
  • Changes in cost structures
  • Removal of traditional barriers
  • Incorrect competitive variables in saturated markets
  • Things that work in other places

However, there are also inventions that are the result of chance, which occur by accident. Inventions that are related to serendipity¸ that is, to the unexpected and fortunate occurrence of events produced accidentally or by chance. To the very improbable but not impossible event of discovering something while trying to create something else. Because unforeseen events are also part of scientific activity, although they do not mean that there is no need for the hours, days, months and years of work that this requires.

10 inventions created by serendipity

Throughout history, inventions that transformed the society in which we live have been created by accident. Some for the worse, like dynamite or LSD, but the vast majority have improved our well-being. We highlight 10, in chronological order:

1. Charles Goodyear, in 1839, thought he had made a mistake when he mixed sulphur and rubber on a lit stove. Inadvertently he had created the material for

2. In 1885, John Stith Pemberton created Coca Cola thanks to a syrup made of wine and coca extract designed for headaches and nervous disorders.

3. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen invented the X-ray in 1895 while doing cathode ray experiments.

4. John and Will Kellogg tried to boil grains to make granola in 1898 and inadvertently created the

5. Alexander Fleming invented penicillin in 1928 by going on holiday and leaving out in his laboratory 50 inoculated plates to grow an infectious bacteria (staphylococcus).

6. Percy Spencer invented the microwave in 1945 thanks to a chocolate bar melting near a magnetron.

7. In 1951, John Hopps created the pacemaker while conducting research on hypothermia.

8. In 1968, Spencer Silver came up with Post-its during trials to produce a powerful glue.

9. In 1985, the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer invented viagra while trying to create a drug that would help treat angina and hypertension

10. In 2004, physics professor Andre Geim and his doctoral student discovered graphene while working on granite

Digital transformation strategy ideas

Why does digital transformation strategy not understand serendipity?

As we have seen in previous articles, digital transformation is a cultural and strategic change that affects the entire organisation and its stakeholders. It involves a transformative process in many companies to compete with digital native companies that put the customer at the core of their organisation and simplify the work, so it is common to find barriers that prevent this process taking place more quickly: such as cost, security, uncertainty, etc.

For that reason, digital transformation strategy cannot afford unforeseen events or to be associated with serendipity. It needs planning, performing, measurement and action. This roadmap is not easy, since it involves taking into account all the factors that affect the company, and it requires guidelines, as well as realistic investment, to deal with what is a complex process.

This is very important for the moment in which we find ourselves.  On the one hand, because most companies in Spain are failing the digital transformation test, according to a study by SlashMobility, and on the other, because a report by Icemd in collaboration with Kantar Millward Brown confirms that although companies know that digital transformation is vital for their survival, when it comes down to it they are not implementing it in the company or they are in a very initial phase.

Once this phase is overcome, in the future, serendipity could contribute something to the digital transformation. Of course, at the moment it is impossible to predict what this might be, as it will happen by accident or chance.