How mobile innovation can foster cultural change & drive digital transformation


8 minute read
Jo Reid

Jo Reid

Managing Director

Aerospace & Engineering

Digital Insights

Back in June, I presented a talk at The Digital Leaders Virtual Summit — a two-week summit that covered 100 sessions from digital leaders across a wide range of sectors.

Since mobile apps are fast becoming the key to reshaping business models around the world, I shared my insights drawn from several case studies on how mobile innovation can help deliver digital transformation and cultural change, a topic that Calvium has talked about several times in the past given our extensive experience in this field.

In this article, I want to pull three key ingredients for success that were discussed in my talk, which can be used by any business as we continue on the path to a digital norm. 

Catalysts for Change

What are the factors driving our move towards the digital? I began my talk by presenting some of the catalysts as to why businesses are initiating this change:


The pandemic is an easy, top-of-the-mind answer, as organisations are now driven to navigate this crisis by adapting quickly to technology. Preparing for and living in the new normal entails looking for new opportunities and new ways of coping (e.g. webinars or virtual summits instead of physical meetings). 


The need to make things more sustainable continues to be at the forefront of society’s concerns. This has always been a good motivator and driver for businesses, as technology has the capability to connect an increasingly-detached population with nature, mitigate the effects of climate change, and even revive our high streets.

Companies today like Rolls-Royce are, in fact, in a race towards creating carbon-free flights and other sustainable modes of transportation.

Richness of New Available Technologies 

Technology has developed in leaps and bounds over the past decade. We now have augmented reality (AR), virtual reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 5G technologies to think about.

The combination of these technologies with mobile means that we can leverage and use these in innovative ways driven by business needs, rather than just what technologies people think might be good.

Threat from New Disruptive Businesses 

Disruption is nothing new, with Uber and Airbnb as testament to how related industries can be made (or in many cases, forced) to rethink their approach to how they do business.

These tech disruptors are often the cause of digital transformations, as organisations need to compete with someone else who may have come up with a completely new way of doing things. Otherwise, they risk losing their share of the market.

Competitive Advantage 

Keeping a competitive advantage goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. If other companies are servicing their clients in a different way or they have a digital solution that their clients are starting to choose over your own, you need to be able to respond to this new demand.

Taken from above, looking down, the image shows two pairs of hands on opposite sides of the image, demonstrating a meeting is taking place. One pair of hand is holding onto a cup of tea, while the other pair of hand is holding a mobile table. There is a cup of tea and a small pile of pale blue paper next to these hands.

How Mobile Solutions Can Encourage Buy-In from the Whole Team

Innovative as these technologies may be, it’s often the case where some pushback from the team hinders the investment. The exploration of mobile solutions is ideal for getting the board interested, as you can swiftly get something in their hands for them to test and understand its application to the business.

The Obstacles to Investing in Digital Transformation

Let us first look at the reasons behind this pushback:

  • Fear — Change can be frightening for anyone, so naturally, we try to stick to our comfort zones. With the pandemic, however, our resilience and our capability to cope should be part of our makeup. 
  • Job security — Some jobs unfortunately will become redundant. The good news, however, is that new jobs will be created at the same time, as the human element is still central to digital technologies. 
  • Culture — If the culture within an organisation is built upon resistance to change, it’s going to be really hard to move towards digital transformation. 
  • Cost — Of course, it’s naive to think that these technologies are cost-free or cheap. Depending on how big or small the mobile solution is, it will require investment from the company. 
  • Internal politics — Organisations don’t have to be big before sides are formed and become territorial, especially if the proposed technological idea came from the ‘other’ side.

How Mobile Solutions Can Get The Team’s Buy-In

These obstacles can understandably make decision-makers feel like innovations are very high mountains to cross. I’m advocating the use of mobile solutions as the catalyst to fast track you into this for several reasons:

  • Non-threatening — Mobile is non-threatening to people, as everyone has smart devices. It’s also not seen as part of big IT systems that will otherwise require a certain learning curve to understand. 
  • Familiar — The use of smartphones or tablets is very familiar, so there isn’t a scared or apprehensive feeling when faced with a project that involves tech innovation. People are already comfortable using sophisticated tech accessed through their phones like AR. 
  • Outside the IT department — Since mobile falls outside the traditional IT development system, it can automatically interject a new pace and a new opportunity to the organisation.
In a dimly lit room, the photo has been taken with a blue hue. It shows a bearded, young man in the left of the image and he is pointing to a mind-map of post-it notes on a white board. The image has been used to signify innovation workshops

Calvium’s Innovation Workshops

Businesses can get started by involving management teams in innovation workshops. These are workshops that we run with the intent of helping businesses come up with new, concrete, and viable digital concepts that can advance their organisations. To see if these concepts are practical and can be integrated into the organisation, we follow this process:

Idea Generation

We first run through some examples of digital tech to help businesses realise the capabilities of mobile apps. For instance, apart from the more familiar voice recognition tech like Alexa or Siri, AR is also possible as seen in our Hidden Florence app

There’s also the possibility of image recognition like with Somos Brasil or digital placemaking similar to how we created The Lost Palace. GPS and sensor inputs can also be utilised like how we did it with our aerospace project with Rolls-Royce.

Practical Assessment

Once the ideas and problems of the organisation are all laid out, and the capabilities of mobile apps are assessed, we then look at the practical side of this endeavour. 

Is this a project that the organisation can afford? Is it practical? Will the user base respond well to this or is there even a need for it?

Make, Buy, or Bin?

Moving to the decision-making phase, the management needs to create a business case. Will there be an ROI? Is there an opportunity for this? Will the team be able to commit to seeing the project through?   

Someone also has to research whether an app already exists that can provide what the business needs. If there isn’t, then a bespoke solution may be the ideal route to take.

Agile Approach

If it has been established that a bespoke mobile solution is what’s needed, I recommend taking on an Agile approach, as it can deliver early and frequent iterations, allowing you to pivot when needed. 

The reason why I like this is because of its philosophy of failing fast. Rather than investing huge amounts of money building a big vision, you try to identify the first thing and experiment, allowing you to practically test and speed deliver iterations.

This sprint-based investment also allows for cultural change, as you can bring people in the journey from the first step to the last. Feedback and data gathering becomes much easier, especially since it’s essential to know whether the project is on track to hit goals. You can use simulations in early experiments, which effectively brings down the cost. Lastly, it takes a business back to a startup mentality where they can be as rapid or as fresh as possible to drive that change.

This approach to project management has allowed us to create several apps in the past like the foreign object debris app with Rolls-Royce, US NAVAIR, and the US Marine Corps, as well as PPE Hive, a platform that connects those who need PPE with those who make them.

User interface of PPE Hive app
PPE Hive

Mobile Solutions for Digital Transformation and Cultural Change

As the world changes, we’ll continue to see a rise in mobile usage. It is, therefore, up to the organisation whether they are willing to adapt to the new digital normal or be left behind by their competitors. 

It may be a steep climb for some businesses, but mobile solutions can help you surmount these obstacles, foster cultural changes in the team, and enable the digital transformation that will allow you to survive and thrive during these unprecedented times.

If you’re interested in running an innovation workshop for your company, please get in touch with us today so we can talk about how we can help you.

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