Digital Transformation - how to make it work
Published: 15th April 2019
By dictionary definition, digital transformation is ‘the novel use of digital technology to solve traditional problems’. Sounds exciting… no? For some, it’s quite the opposite. A recent survey has revealed that digital transformation is one of the biggest worries of 2019 for CEO’s and Directors.
Huge amounts of money has been spent on digital transformation projects, lots of which has gone to waste. The reality is, these projects can provide possibilities and efficiency gains, however without the right mind-set, and if current organisational practices are flawed, digital transformation will simply magnify those flaws. Several key strategies can help to lead organisations through transformations that will succeed:
1. Establish a solid long term business strategy
To spend a large amount of money on a digital transformation project only to find out it has been unsuccessful, is a less than ideal situation. There are a large number of tools available, and their suitability depends on the needs of the individual business; what works for one may not necessarily work for another.
It is essential that you establish your long term business strategy before you do anything else. Establishing goals for your business will mean that you can match the project to your business.
2. Utilise staff for ideas
Often, if a business seeks transformation (digital or otherwise) then they will bring a team of external consultants in, who tend to offer a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Referring to our previous point, this may not be successful as the transformation they choose may not be right for the business. Instead, utilise the staff that you have, as they will know the business inside out and be able to recognise what will work and what won’t.
3. Understand employees fear of being replaced
This is perhaps the most poignant point of all. Naturally, when people expect that a transformation project will make their job redundant, they become somewhat resilient to the change altogether. At these times, it is critical for leaders to recognise these fears and try to change the mind-set of employees. Encouraging employees that the transformation is, in fact, an opportunity to upskill themselves further to suit the marketplace of the future.
To help with this, many managers have adopted a strategy, initially implemented by Benham Tabrizi, Consulting Professor at Stanford University, known as the ‘inside-out process’. This teaches employees to recognise their unique contributions to their organisation, then connect those strengths to components of the digital transformation process — which they will then take charge of, if at all possible.
In conclusion, digital transformation can be a success if managers go back to the fundamentals and manage the process correctly, by not rushing into anything too soon. By focusing on changing the mind-set of employees, they can be instrumental in deciding what digital tools are to be used.
This article is featured in UP Magazine Issue 6