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For the most part of the current decade corporates, their management and employees have been awash with digital transformation projects. As a response to rapidly digitizing business environment, no organisational function has been spared of digital scrutinisation in an effort to ensure market relevance and provide new value to customers. Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. With many of them underway, and many more planned, news about failure of digital transformation projects have become much frequent. With such complex undertaking many things can go wrong, so it is not surprising that some reports talk about 'digital transformation churn' as high as 84%. Digital transformation projects can fail for many reasons, both on the strategy and executional level. Digital is not just a thing that you can just buy and plug into the organization. It is multi-faceted and diffuse, and doesn’t just involve technology. Digital transformation is an ongoing process of changing the way you do business. It requires foundational investments in skills, projects, infrastructure, and, often, in cleaning up IT systems. It requires mixing people, machines, and business processes, with all of the messiness that entails. It also requires continuous monitoring and intervention, from the top, to ensure that both digital leaders and non-digital leaders are making good decisions about their transformation efforts.
With such complex undertaking many things can go wrong, so it is not surprising that some reports talk about 'digital transformation churn' as high as 84%.
Reasons for failure of digital transformation projects can be found both on strategic and executional level. Digital strategy to general company business model mismatch, poor strategic planning, inadequate financing and unrealistic management expectations about outcomes are just a few to to name. But when it comes to implementation of digital transformation projects, few things can go as wrong as with its most complex, yet crucial element - people.
Most Overlooked Dimension of Digital Transformation : The People
Digital transformation involves technologies and humans. Unfortunately, we tend to ignore the latter (humans) when leading change. It’s perhaps the most critical — and most overlooked — success factor in digital transformation today. Digital transformation is not just an IT project. To be done well, it drives a massive shift in human behaviour. The hardest part of digital transformation isn't the technology, its the people change and change in human behaviour. The reality is, people are the biggest asset to any organisation but remain the most complex cog in the machinery of business. So, given that fact, it makes sense that maximising the potential of your technology will hinge on your people. The focus needs to shift to finding a way of building a strong and lasting relationship between our employees and their software from day one.
However, for average employees digital transformational initiatives meant one thing : more responsibilities, bigger workloads and continuous inflow of new digital platforms to work with.
But, underneath of newfound corporate confidence and high growth ambitions, for average employees digital transformational initiatives meant one thing : more responsibilities, bigger workloads and continuous inflow of new digital platforms to work with. This in turn creates a completely new category of challenges to an already stressed and informationally overloaded workforce - requirement to successful integrate all these new platforms into their daily workflows. Burden of digital transformation is being born by employees who are expected, pressured and even forced to completely unlearn old ways of working and simultaneously learn new ones, all while being expected to perform & deliver results as if nothing was happening.
Burden of digital transformation is born by employees who are expected, pressured and even forced to completely unlearn old ways of working and simultaneously learn new ones, all while being expected to perform & deliver results
Digital Transformation and Resistance to Change
Problem of digital transformation programs is that most often they disregard its key element - people and change it entails for them. Imagine an organisation-wide new software implementation. As an employee, you are competent using the old platform, and don’t necessarily understand the need for a new system. What you do understand is: this will require effort to relearn basic functions. Consciously or subconsciously, you might fear the change will hurt your job performance. To put it simply, change is scary — and challenging. This is especially true for a current workforce structure which is multigenerational - for most companies 5 generations are currently in the workforce. Millennials and gen Z are working side by side with baby-boomers. Failure to successfully master new software solutions that are being thrown on employees almost on a constant basis will mostly likely increase job security anxiety, especially for older generations whose personal lives aren't permeated with technology and who aren't as comfortable using new technologies. And, by all means, being comfortable with only the most basic way to use a digital tool is not enough; employees need to be fully comfortable utilising these tools to their full extent. The same is true for your customers and users.
Digital Adoption Programs Key To Unlocking People Dimension of Transformation Initiatives
As most digital transformation across industries and countries continues to unfold, the people dimension of these transformations has emerged as the key to unlocking value and ensuring the sustainability of the change. As organizations digitize their back-end processes, employees must keep up with the pace. So organizations’ functionality effectively rests on employees’ ability not only to cope with but to flourish using enterprise software. The issue is, while people are increasingly more tech-savvy, that doesn’t mean your entire organisation is ready to fully leverage any software you put in their hands. People use so many digital tools on a daily basis that it can become quite difficult to keep up and really spend the time getting to know what a tool can do for them – whether they’re customers using one of your new digital apps or employees using a tool provided by the organization.
Digital adoption is defined as achieving a state in which digital tools are being used as intended, and to the fullest extent. Digital adoption, quite simply, refers to achieving a state within your company where all of your digital tools and assets are leveraged to the fullest extent. Adopting technology to its fullest extent will essentially allow you to get a return on investment (ROI) on your digital assets; in other words, you’re not just spending money on the latest tools and technologies but you’re actually taking full advantage of them and getting all the benefits you can get. Consider the computer in your pocket — your smartphone. While your grandmother might only use hers to make and receive calls, for the average user it is an extension of the self. For example, if you only use your iPhone as a portable calculator. You use this digital device, but you're not utilising anything near its full capabilities.
User adoption or digital adoption strategies represent a plan of action, designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim within an organisation and are crucial to the new technology’s success. Without a good strategy, you will not get the seamless transition you are hoping for. There will be dissatisfaction, frustration, technical problems, and general chaos.
Our user adoption team believes you have to ease the change for employees and prepare them for the transition as a team. That’s possible when executive and program team leaders communicate designs, definitions, processes, and information about functionality with key stakeholders as soon as decisions are made.
If you are planning or currently undergoing digital transformation projects, and need help with digital adoption, contact us today. for a commitment FREE consultation.
Tim Keary, "Digital transformation churn: Why the digital transformation fail rate is so high" https://www.information-age.com/digital-transformation-fail-123478513/
Thomas H. Davenport, George Westerman : "Why So Many High-Profile Digital Transformations Fail" HBR.ORG. https://hbr.org/2018/03/why-so-many-high-profile-digital-transformations-fail
Mark Bonchek, HBR.ORG, "Why the Problem with Learning Is Unlearning" https://hbr.org/2016/11/why-the-problem-with-learning-is-unlearning
WalkMe Blog : "Top 6 strategies to overcome resistance to change" https://blog.walkme.com/change-6-strategies-overcome-resistance/
Lilach Bullock, Forbes.com : "What Is Digital Adoption And Why You Really Need To Know About It" https://www.forbes.com/sites/lilachbullock/2018/12/10/what-is-digital-adoption-and-why-you-really-need-to-know-about-it/