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Transformations are more about the people than they are about the technology

We are witnessing a major cultural disruption that is changing how we function in our private and professional lives. Technology and digitalization are starting to play a major role in our success.

Transformations are more about the people than they are about the technology

The perception of Digital Transformation has shifted from trend to a critical step for business success today. Change is becoming central to every interaction, forcing both organizations and individuals to adapt, learn, and progress more quickly than ever before. Businesses that once mapped their digital strategy in 1-3 year phases are now feeling the need to scale their initiatives in a matter of days or weeks. How they will adjust, will strongly influence their performance tomorrow.

Being in a driver seat behind the digital transformation in several enterprises during the last decade has thought me, that transformations are more about the people than they are about the technology. They are about how we transform ourselves, learn from each other, and build on our strengths. All, while testing our agile mindset, breaking down barriers limiting innovation, stimulating collaboration, and integrating diverse perspectives to foster forward-thinking evolution.

To make digital transformation compelling for people, it needs to revolve around purpose, buy-in, communications, and change management. The desired change must have the backing of the boardroom, so it can be driven and implemented successfully. But it’s not a straightforward approach as it sounds.

Stakeholders buy-in

The C-suite and managers one level down need to be bought into the vision. Both need to understand the whole reason for the transformation and the positive impact, value the change can deliver. Comprehend the benefits and outcomes so they can become champions in delivering innovation. If there is no proper buy-in and understanding, then they are likely to fail.

Define where change is needed the most

It is time to focus on what matters to the core of your business and then optimize against that (process efficiency, people reskilling, costs control, technology for new disruptive business models, etc). Technology adoption affects every company differently. Clearly understanding the opportunities and threats will suggest which capabilities are needed the most, where to focus the attention, and concentrate the investment.

Shaking up the status quo

Mobilizing for this kind of change inevitably means that leaders themselves need to be prepared to manage the company differently. Transformation immediately opens ups the two challenges: what technology to use and the people component – who can catalyze the change, convey the benefits and make the change happen; how it will affect individual daily jobs; what will be the benefits the change brings?

Collaboration and partnerships

It is important to get the right people on board. People who have the right skills and competencies to manage the change. The right partners, having the experience and expertise to bring the vision to life and make the change happen. People that add value through collaboration, bringing in the right people at the right time to achieve the desired effect. Digital transformation provides an opportunity to diminish the silo effect as a result of a collaborative effort and enables engagement by building on synergies toward increased impact.

Orchestration of the change

Even if you have a very clear strategy in place, it will fail if people are not ready to embrace it. Yes, the definition is important, but also are the capabilities and processes, that will enable it. Old infrastructure and outdated bureaucratic processes can pose as a bottleneck if not reshaped to support the new strategy. While creating an agile approach to development, it is essential to upgrade also data analytics, to help you better manage a higher information influx and support the quality and speed of decision making through the organization.

Clarification of Why

Understanding "the why" is a must - without overcomplicating. Clarity about benefits - to the business and peoples’ work is critical for engagement, roll-out, and adoption. Communication about the purpose, acceptance of different perspectives, and encouragement from the top will influence the buy-in, minimize distractions, and resistance to change by understanding the return. While trying to deliver, you should not overlook other daily challenges teams are managing at the same time, those can also be impacted by the change.

Efficient project management

Getting the right project managers is key to make it happen. To be successful they need to be dedicated and motivated to evolve the idea into the solution. Understand how it is going to be circulated and envision the future. Recognize the opportunities and ensure every risk is considered and addressed properly. In an international environment, it is important to encourage local ideas or project ownership to pilot and learn, and then scale in the second step. Clear central direction can provide guidance on which projects are successful, ready to scale, and in what order. This way best practices can become game-changers while retaining consistent design.

Empower people

at every level of the organization to work together and participate in project teams, to devise and implement solutions. Give teams permission to set new rules and provide a strategic framework for the new reality. Brake down the barriers and stimulate engagement. Culture has often proved to be a significant contributor to scaling the impact.

Opportunity with transformation is huge.

For better or worse, this crisis has been a wake-up call for many businesses around the globe. In response, businesses could take a different approach to digital transformation.

- Ready to use solutions might be an attractive option for companies with a focus on priorities and immediate return.

- Different digitization projects in support of back function processes, enabling efficient governance and decision making, could be an approach for a business trying to survive and restructure.

- Disruptors and companies in good financial condition, having the ambition to turn around, will want to evolve and capture the full business opportunities available and exit as winners.

A business that can turn around will be successful going forward and those organizations that are quicker to change will have the advantage.

We are living in a society that places convenience high on the priority list. With the increased exposure to digital experiences, the demand will likely elevate our expectations even further and accelerate the pace of technology adoption. Even though all the lessons from this experience will clear through time, we can already say - the role technology and digital are playing is becoming a critical part of our success.


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