Many organizations are undergoing digital transformations to take advantage of all the benefits of new digital technology. According to one study, 89 percent of companies are either in the process of implementing or have already executed a digital-first approach to business processes, operations, and customer engagement. However, despite these advances, the same study also found that workforce strategy often lags behind a company’s ability to use new digital tools. A key reason behind the disconnect is the tendency to put technology at the heart of digital transformation, when in reality, it’s people that drive successful transformation. Here are three reasons why digital transformation is about people and not technology.
It Requires a Mindset Shift
Implementing the latest digital processes and tools won’t achieve much if people within the organization don’t adopt a digital mindset. Employees need to possess the willingness to think differently about how to achieve success for the company and its customers. Every employee must not only understand the vision for digital transformation and the positive effect it will have in the workplace but also embrace the notion that digital tools require a change in how they work. To get buy-in from employees so that they want to make digital transformation a success, you can take the following steps:
- Develop a clear vision for change that informs and inspires employees to support digital transformation efforts.
- Identify champions of change who can lead by example and show others how to embrace digital transformation.
- Introduce employee learning solutions that don’t just impart knowledge but also motivate individuals to want to change.
It Requires Behavior Change
For a digital transformation to take hold, employees must change how they approach their work, leverage data, and use new digital tools. Simply introducing new technology won’t deliver lasting change because people must have the skills and knowledge to incorporate that new technology into new and existing work processes. There is also research to support the idea that digital transformation cannot achieve maximum effect unless people engage with the new technology. A White House report summarized research on “human-machine teaming,” which found that when technology and people come together, there is a lower error rate than when people or technology act alone.
To achieve a successful digital transformation, employees will require learning opportunities that enable them to think and act differently. Targeted training in the areas of teamwork, project management, and innovation offers individuals the opportunity to learn more about how they can personally support digital transformation.
It Requires Leader Support
Leaders set expectations and lead by example, showing employees the behaviors and mindset that are required for digital transformation to be a success. As one CIO who led a digital transformation said, “The irony is that while digital is all about technology and automation, the transformation is really about people, and how you lead and inspire them. The first step in cultural change is understanding that it is people first, and that it is your job to find ways to involve and motivate your team.”
Leadership training is valuable to any digital transformation because it helps leaders more confidently lead their teams through the sometimes-murky waters of change. Equipped with new knowledge and skills from training, leaders can drive digital transformation throughout the workforce by:
- Creating an environment of open two-way communication in which employees can ask questions and seek direction and leaders provide feedback to guide employee behavior
- Recognizing individuals who add new digital thinking into existing processes and who use digital tools to improve the customer experience
- Supporting employee learning and competency development
There’s no argument that digital transformation involves the addition of new technology, but people are what allow the transformation to succeed. Technology is an enabler of digital transformation; people bring digital thinking, tools, and processes together. When you focus on equipping the workforce with the knowledge, training, and leader support required to develop a digital mindset and skill set, lasting digital transformation can become a reality.