Digital Transformation Isn’t Just a Technology Thing, It’s a People Thing

In Digital Transformation by Daniel NewmanLeave a Comment

We are living in a world where almost four out of every five companies are embarking upon a digital transformation. However there’s a big gap between what digital transformation really is and what most businesses think it is. Not surprising, few are able to make a successful transition. An MIT Sloan and Capgemini study data-backed what most companies are already going through—their failure at adopting a digital culture. The study found that while companies prioritized new tech adoption as a business success formula, a majority of their employees viewed the process as “complex and slow.”

A recent Fortune survey shows that four out of five CEOs are kept awake at night by the rapid change in technology. However, is the stress really about the rapid changes in technology or the challenges in adopting new tech and ideas within the enterprise? We all know the answer. But the real question is: When technology innovation has spawned a digital age, why do businesses find it difficult to adopt new tech changes? Because we are used to equating digital transformation with a shift in investment, what we forget is that technology is merely and ‘enabler’ for things far more important than technology from a business perspective—things that have to do with employees, customers, and the overall company culture.

Technology: Not for Technology’s Sake, but for People’s Sake

Let me ask you a simple question—why do you want to use technology for your business? I’ll guess your answers. Some will say, “It makes everything faster, easier, and more accurate.” Others will say “Our competitors are using it. We can’t be left behind.” Generally speaking, people’s willingness to adopt and adapt to new technology is their desire to have something that makes their lives easier. Think about early innovations like the telephone, the automobile, heck, let’s go all the way back to the wheel! They were all born out of man’s urge to make things simpler. And technology is not an exception to that rule.

A tech tool or solution is meant to help employees become more efficient and productive. Likewise, technology can and should improve customers’ experiences. This is why when an organization’s tech initiatives are not tied closely to factors like employee engagement or customer satisfaction, they are doomed for failure.

We’re Digitally Transformed, Yay!

When it comes to a successful digital transformation, people, rather than technology, may be the biggest inhibitor. They can challenge and even impede tech adoption on multiple levels. They may be stubborn senior executives who don’t like change (hello, Kodak and Blockbuster!) Or, they may be employees who simply don’t want to embrace new systems, tools, or processes because they prefer to do things the way they have always been doing them. In fact, it is this complacency of “we’ve always done it that way,” which really thwarts business development of any kind, let alone digital transformation.
Coming back to the point, business can harness the full benefits of technology adoption only by encouraging buy-in from all levels of the organization, and from all the people involved. But how?

Find the Right Tools

Invest in technology that takes care of the concerns of those people who will use it every day. Make sure the tools are able to solve the problems in a simple and straightforward manner. And, remember, whatever takes too long to get used to will never be used. Ditto for customer experience technology. Tools that do not improve the customer-side of business are a waste of time and money.

Proper Training is the Key

Many business owners simply buy a shiny new toy and expect their employees to do a marvelous job using it. This is a recipe for failure. The employees may not be aware of the right way to use the equipment and the investment may go down the drain. Therefore, it’s imperative you have training sessions whenever a new technology is introduced in an organization. Assuming employees will just “figure out how to use it” is a grave mistake.

Leadership Needs to Show’em How it’s Done

Leaders often balk at tech purchases although their very role as leaders demands they be more proactive and open minded than that. If they want 100percent employee engagement through tech initiatives, they need to help their staff understand how the new technology may help them and why they should use it. Leaders can create a team of tech advocates and early adopters to try out the new technology, and help spread the word among staff of its usefulness, promoting enterprise-wide adoption of the new tech solution.

If you’re an organization looking to embrace and adopt a “digital transformation”, kudos to you. But just remember, a true digital transformation is only possible when companies look beyond the technology, and instead focus on the end user.

Additional Resources on this Topic:

5 Things to Do When You Lead a Digital Transformation
Cloud and the Revolutionization of Business
You Don’t Need a Digital Strategy, You Need a Digitally Transformed Company

This article was originally seen on Ricoh blog.

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