Although the concept of digital transformation has been around for a number of years, many are now seeing the real benefits that can come with using technology to change how a business is run. In a recent Gartner report (opens in new tab), CIOs in 11 out of 15 industries ranked digital transformation among their top three business priorities for 2018. And it’s easy to see why. Analyst house IDC estimated that digital transformation could be worth an additional $18 trillion (opens in new tab) in business value, and Gartner has predicted that digital business will represent 36 per cent of a business’s overall revenue by 2020.
However, even if everyone can agree that digital transformation is necessary, the aforementioned Gartner report also stated that CIOs in most industries are struggling to move from experimentation to scaling their digital transformation initiatives.
So in order to digital transformation a reality, and avoid expensive, unsuccessful projects, what do businesses need to keep in mind?
Identify before implementing
It can be tempting to launch head-first into digital transformation but in order to avoid any unwanted scenarios or complications, senior management must first pin point where changes need to be made before implementing. For example, are there any manual tasks that employees are spending unnecessary amounts of time carrying out? Can these be automated? Tasks like submitting and paying out expenses, requesting and approving annual leave and organising meetings can be easily automated using simple to use tools that don’t break the bank. Once you’ve identified areas that would benefit from digital transformation, don’t try and overhaul existing processes at the same time, all at once. If your customer relationship management (CRM) system is in serious need of an upgrade to the 21st century, and you also want to move away from paper to become a completely paperless office, carrying out one at a time is likely to result in less disruption and greater success.
As well as identifying where digital transformation will improve business processes, it’s also important that business leaders ensure they have everything needed to support a virtualised environment. The most obvious criteria for any company undergoing any form of digital transformation is that they have the internet speeds required to make the most out of the new technology. After all, no one wants to look pixelated in a video conference call.
By doing this groundwork, the chances of hiccups in the process will be greatly reduced, and it will also give employees time to transition to new ways of working.
Keeping up with a modern day workforce
Incorporating collaboration technology into the workplace is often one of the first steps business leaders take towards digital transformation. Why? Because the way we work is changing, and companies need to keep up. 9-5 hours and in-person meetings are no longer necessary, the gig economy is booming, and thanks to technology, managing a remote workforce doesn’t have to entail the same challenges as it once did.
Collaboration tools aren’t expensive or time-consuming to implement and the benefits they bring to the workforce are vast. For starters they allow companies to adopt flexible working and remote working policies, which leads to happier, healthier and more productive employees. The majority of sick days can be traced to a stress-related issue, but arming employees with the technology that allows them to work flexibly is a really effective way of empowering them to manage their stress levels and stay in control of their overall health. By having a healthier workforce, productivity will increase, and in turn so will revenues.
Collaboration technology also allows a workforce to become truly global, as businesses can allocate duties by region and time zone. For example, an employee no longer needs to be based in an office in London to work with a European team as long as they have access to the required information and technology to carry out their tasks. And it doesn’t even have to be this global. An employee who’s stuck on a delayed train will still be able to attend a meeting, view a presentation and offer insight as if they were in the room. And once again, by increasing the productivity of the workforce, more money can be brought into the business, which benefits everyone involved.
The millennial/baby-boomer divide
However, business leaders must also be mindful of the impact digital transformation will have on their workforce. While younger employees tend to prefer a tech-heavy and open work environment, older generations may wish to rely less on technology and more on direct communication. With the age of retirement increasing, the age gap between employees will only increase. So it’s crucial that companies provide their multi-generational workers with the correct training and tools to deal with evolving processes and new technology. It’s also important that IT teams include relevant departments and employees in the digital transformation conversation as early as possible, and not overwhelm employees by changing everything at once. Finally, employees of all ages won’t be receptive to any technology if it’s hard to use, or disrupts the workflow. So being strategic about what technology is implemented and when will be key to winning employees over, whether they’re entry level grads, or more senior members of the workforce.
If companies want to stay ahead of their competitors, digital transformation will be a necessity sooner rather than later. And because of the rapidly evolving nature of technology, there’s likely to be plenty of room for companies to continue their digital journeys once they’ve started. From collaboration tools, automation, ERP systems, the IoT, artificial intelligence, and blockchain, to whatever the next ten years bring, digital isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The key to success: don’t transform for the sake of it – do you need to install IRIS recognition if you don’t handle any sensitive, confidential data? And have the wellbeing and needs of your employees at the forefront of any initiative – after all, they’ll be the ones using the technology. With this in mind, companies should successfully navigate digital transformation in the workplace and reap the benefits.
Steve Duignan, VP International Marketing at LogMeIn (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Wichy / Shutterstock