Digital transformation within the modern workplace

Digital transformation is one of the most hyped terms in circulation in the business community today. Everyone is talking about it – but does anyone have a clear definition of what it is, what it means to a specific business and, most importantly, how to actually deliver digital transformation within an organisation?

One thing is clear - Digital Transformation means different things to different people. For me the definition of Digital Transformation needs to be broad, and is, quite simply, the effective combination of people, process and technology to deliver business benefit. It needs to be a broad definition to allow for the inclusion of areas such as cloud, mobile, robotics, artificial intelligence, automation, the Internet of Things (IOT), and the workplace of the future. 

While some will argue that this definition is too broad, how can any digital transformation ignore those aspects? Instead of discussing semantics let’s focus on a more important question “What does Digital Transformation mean to you – and how do you begin that journey?”

For many this is where the conversation stops – they simply do not know where to start on this journey of transformation. I liken the required approach to be the same one you would need if faced with the task of eating a whole elephant – you need to do it piece by piece, bit by bit. 

This approach allows you to identify (cherry-pick if you like) small transformation projects that deliver rapid benefit, on time and to budget, and can be used as a foundation for future projects. In addition, these initial projects become fantastic poster children for the transformation process - and a popular project to begin with inside many businesses appears to be the digital workplace.

Research commissioned by Konica Minolta Business Solutions UK has found that 89 per cent of mid-sized  organisations have already started their digital transformation journey and have selected a digital workplace initiative (DWI) as their starting point. But why start there? 

There are two business drivers for the implementation of a DWI – reducing costs and improving productivity – neither of which should come as a surprise. Nor will the project types selected to deliver against these targets: projects in the areas of mobile, remote and collaboration enablement. What might be more surprising is that almost half of the organisations that have started on this journey are expecting a return on investment within 3 years. Therefore getting this right is of critical importance.

Reducing costs is an area that digitisation and automation can help massively, and is well documented and understood. The area of increasing productivity in the modern workplace, however, is a path less explored. 

Think about what productivity is - or more specifically what peak productivity is. I would argue that peak productivity is those moments at work where everything just runs to plan - you are in the zone, hitting the ball out of the park, or whatever other sports analogy you wish to use. Unfortunately, peak productivity doesn't happen that often does it?

Our research found that 40 per cent of people feel that they only hit maximum productivity - that in the zone feeling - three times a week at most. Furthermore, when they are in the zone it typically only lasts for 3 hours, and for most people it occurs in the morning. However, as an interesting tangent here, younger members of the workforce are likely to be less effective in the morning – perhaps signalling the start of the end for early Monday morning meetings to start the week!

What is blocking our productivity?

If you talk to employees, they simply want to be left alone to get on with their work. Two thirds of employees say that colleagues interrupting them is their biggest barrier to being productive. However, if you talk to IT, the answer is slightly different. Here the focus switches to challenges with legacy systems, user problems with login and data access, and cultural issues within the business, or, in non-technical terms, people not wanting to learn new ways of working.

How do we increase productivity?

Dedicated time and workspaces are important to employees, as is effective use of technology - primarily in terms of having the right tools for the job, and tools that are easy to use. Oh, and many want fewer face to face meetings – the chicken and egg challenge here of course is that to manage with less meetings you need have to have the right tools to enable collaboration, remote working and so on.

However, the ability for any organisation to transform its business in this way all hinges on how the business handles change. 

Technology is one part of the digital workplace puzzle, people are another, and figuring out how these people and the office culture combine with technology is key to making digital transformation successful. 

One of the biggest challenges in the UK around digital workplaces is employees’ love of their own desk. There are various arguments for this - ranging from needing access to certain equipment or systems that they can only access from their own desk, right through to the fact that some people don’t like others sitting at their desk! 

Taking people on the journey towards a digital workplace therefore cannot simply be a case of introducing new tools. Organisations are now realising this with 84 per cent believing that understanding employee psychology is a key part of this change process. With this awareness of the need to manage change carefully, organisations are starting to put themselves in a good position to be able to deliver on the first phases of their digital transformation journeys.

Conclusions

Digital transformation is here - it means varying things to different people - but the levels of investment within digital workplace initiatives in the UK show the importance organisations are placing in this space. There are challenges such as engaging employees earlier in the process, and balancing the desire for change with a resistance to change the status quo. The potential benefits of digitally enabling both staff and the business mean that this revolution will happen, and that appears to be well underway. Rest assured, the Digital Transformation journey will be a challenging one, a beneficial one, and one that will be at the forefront of peoples’ minds for many years to come.

If you are interested in finding out more about Digital Transformation, you can download a copy of ‘The Digital Workplace Initiative’ report at http://digital.konicaminolta.co.uk.

David Jones, ECM Marketing Manager, Konica Minolta Business Solutions UK
Image Credit: Chombosan / Shutterstock