We hear about it very often today. It’s one of the biggest “buzzwords” of recent years: Digital Transformation! It is still presented today as a complex and technical concept requiring very specialized expertise that only a handful of experts master! Whereas, in my opinion, it’s the opposite!
Digital transformation is, above all, the business of everyone within the company. To succeed, we must first arm ourselves with pragmatism and common sense!
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation refers to the changes made within a structure: company, association, government institution … that are associated with the integration of digital technologies in all aspects of the structure. The main goal should be to meet the demand of the new digital customer. It is a cross-disciplinary project within the company, whatever its size, will involve all geographical locations, all generations, and all activities.
By the way, why digitize?
Digital transformation is by no means an objective in itself. If you choose to digitize, it’s to win! Digitalizing is a considerable investment. Yes, the company is investing today to gain tomorrow in production volume, responsiveness, agility, waste management, employer brand, and much more!
Going digital is not just a way to stand out among the competition, but a way to survive in the market as a whole. When we speak about competition, we no longer talk about classic direct and indirect competitors, we also consider potential disruptors that usually are not your competitors and not even coming from the same industry.
Technology is just the tool. Digital Transformation is the journey to a better, more productive, and innovative company. It’s a process that should never end!
Digital Transformation is NOT about technology
There is no single technology that will deliver all our expectations from Digital Transformation. Each organization needs to find the best combination of tools and technologies to fulfill its vision. This combination may vary from one vision to another.
Digital transformation can encompass all kinds of technologies. These technologies may include, but are not limited to:
- IoT (Internet of Things): Any object involved within the production process can be connected and continuously deliver reliable and exploitable data.
- Integration of the concept of real-time: No need to wait for updates that will be made after a slow data collection.
- Mobility: Any member of the team can connect from any place and work flexibly.
- Big data: All data will be collected, stored, analyzed, and interpreted. The idea is, of course, to understand the current results delivered by the data and use them but also to make predictions and anticipate future results as well.
- VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) for your onboarding process and training…
But still, even if a company succeeds in all those projects and learns how to use those technologies, there is so much more left to do regarding the User Experience, the products, and services … In all cases, we should focus on the outcomes, not technology.
To archive the expected goals, people are essential. They can help the Digital Transformation succeed. They can also turn it into a terrible failure. I do think that every Digital Transformation should start with a transformation of the company’s culture and people’s mindset beginning with the top management.
Digital Transformation Risk
Every Digital Transformation project faces an average rate of 70% of failure! Many researchersfound thatless than one-third of Digital Transformation efforts succeed. This is a HUGE risk for any company to take.Any reasonable individual will just drop out of a project with such high failure risks. One of the reasons why I am convinced Digital transformations fail is neglecting the human factor.
Fear is the real enemy
Humans fear what they don’t understand, predict, and control! This is how we are. How can we assume that an employee that has been achieving certain tasks in a certain way during the last years (sometimesdecades) will easily accept changing the tools, the process, and sometimes all of it, without resistance?
How can CEOs, CTOs, and all C-level managers not consider the human factor as a critical factor in the transformation process? I amnot talking about simply training people on new software, new tools ad new processes. I am talking about people’s readiness to accept and support the Digital Transformation project.
The why is extremely important. If we don’t take the timeto explain why we are transforming and how thisis vital for the company, many employees will think that this is a “smart” way to get rid of them and replace them with machines. Therefore they will resist the Digital Transformation project making it more challenging and raising the failure risk exponentially.
For instance, AI is one of the technologies employees fear the most when it comes to Digital Transformation. All over the internet, you can find blog posts and articles claiming that thanks to AI, people can and will lose their jobs. Resistance and fear from implementing AI is a perfect example of how companies can fear to automatize operations, and how employees are afraid of AI and defend their current jobs.
This narrow mindset completely blocs the Digital Transformation process. That’s why I think that Digital Transformation should be first about the human mindset transformation. I think working on people’s digital readiness should be a prior step to any Digital Transformation project.
Part of the process should be:
- Explaining why Digital transformation is NOT a choice but a necessity to survive. Also, explain the risk of disruption is the company does not transform.
- Explain today’ and future digital consumer behavior and needs
- Present examples of companies that disappeared because of not being able to transform
- Emphasize how this is going to help the company be more profitable and create new products/ services
- Explain that this change happened before and YES some jobs disappeared and so many new appeared.
- Insist on the fact that this change will be accompanied by training; so that they don’t feartechnical complexity and provide psychological support to succeed all together
- Show how the employees’ contribution is vital to the digital transformation project and how top managers cannot do it alone. Telling the right story of why they are using disruptive technologies and how they benefit the entire workforce is key to transforming people form from digital transformation-phobes to fans.
- Leverage insiders first. People who have been around for years (sometimes for decades)have intimate knowledge about what works and what doesn’t in their daily operations. Explain, educate, and welcome everyone on board.