The way we work is being changed forever by digital. 95% of B2B companies worldwide are planning to digitally transform1 while nearly half of IT leaders believe UK businesses will be digitally transformed within the next three to 10 years.
The benefits of transformation are clear – businesses report improved balance sheets, as well as time and cost savings2 – the UK Government, for example, saved £3.9bn between 2012 and 2016 by better making use of technology.3
However, digital transformation isn't just about getting a shiny new kit. There are barriers in the way of transformation and one of the biggest is culture. Sixty per cent of organisations see it as the number one hurdle to digital transformation, according to a report by Capgemini.4
Being digital is about thinking digital – which can mean a considerable shift in your working practices and workplace culture. To have the right mindset to make a success of your transformation you need to:
Think digital first
Digital is increasingly the primary route to discovering information and carrying out tasks, from internet banking to booking travel to shopping. The government is transforming public services by making them ‘digital by default’ 5 while the latest figures show B2B ecommerce sales totalling around £96bn.6
For businesses, making a success of digital transformation means putting digital front of mind when planning and designing how people will access your products and services. This doesn't mean abandoning traditional channels, but being aware that they will not be the primary conduit for people connecting with your business, so should not be used as a template when you plan.
Your transformation will fail if it doesn't work for your customers. Adopting a culture of openness can bring customers into your transformation, using their feedback to improve your offering.
“Customers are able to trust you more as an organisation if you are open about the idea that you are building something that is ever changing and that you require and want their input in making it better for them,” explains Lewie Allen, Digital Transformation Principle Technologist at QA.
Internal feedback on interactions with customers can also help you improve, so it's important to empower and enable staff to communicate their input.
The iterative, test-and-learn nature of agile methodology is ideally suited to the evolving digital landscape. It allows you to continually improve your offering in the light of changing needs, capabilities and feedback. But working in a way that gives you the ‘freedom to fail’ might seem alien to more traditional organisations.
”For some of the more traditional businesses, particularly those that are in very regulated industries and are perhaps risk averse as a result, the concept of putting out things that aren’t quite finished is very hard,” says Lewie Allen. But it is necessary if you want to truly be serving your customers.”
Digital gives organisations access to large amounts of data. However, simply collecting information isn’t enough to confer any real benefits. To make the most of it, you need to have data scientists on your team who can help give you genuine insight.
“This is particularly a priority for businesses that are highly strategic and who want to have good datasets put in place – they need to have members of staff who can interrogate that data properly,” says Lewie Allen.
Also ensure you have a consistent standard in which data is presented so your data scientists can easily extract what they need from it.
Digital is always moving, so you have to innovate to stay one step ahead. Having space and time to reflect without blame is important in order to do this – something that may mean a change in workplace culture.
“A lot of innovation comes from having time to reflect after doing projects,” explains Lewie Allen. “When you’re able to sit back and think about what went well, what didn’t go well and formulate actions to move forward in your next iteration.”
Lead by example
Digital transformations are complex, challenging and unique. Each organisation has to design and implement their own programme of change to meet their specific needs. The most successful digital transformations are driven by senior leadership that are 'digitally literate' and willing to champion change 'top down'. As well as conveying a clear vision, leaders need to model the behaviour they want to see in their staff.
Organisations can also incentivise the transition, championing the use of digital technology and rewarding people who demonstrate the right qualities and behaviours.
By applying metrics to this behavioural change, businesses can measure and reward behaviour, helping facilitate a more natural transition into the digital culture you want to see.
Spread the word
If knowledge of transformation objectives and processes is held in only the upper levels of the organisation, and not cascaded down, transformation will not succeed. Ideas for innovation, which can come from all levels of your organisation, will also be inhibited.
Technology offers the ability to break out of siloes though the use of collaboration tools. These enable instant messaging and document sharing in a way that makes it easy to cascade information and empower people to give input.
Digital transformation is a strategic imperative. As consumers demand changes, organisations need not only to embrace technology, but to build a digital culture; empower people and create the workforce of the future. QA offers a unique service that can transform your business, building the workforce of the future to enable you to lead and disrupt your industry.
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