Why digital transformation starts with people, not tech

Digital transformation is sweeping through various industry sectors, as businesses try to use technological advancements to stay competitive.

However, many businesses striving for digital change fail to realise that the transformation also requires an investment in the people using it.

Primarily, digital transformation aims to improve the customer experience, but employees must buy into the plan for change and must want to adapt to new technology and ways of working for a transformation to be successful and without major hiccups.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how good the technology is – investment will be wasted if people don’t embrace the change.

A shift in culture

It’s a cliché, but change really does start from within. Change should never start with technology, as businesses look to change it should all be focused on one thing, the “hearts and minds” of the organisation.

While any respected business leader will tell you, you cannot dictate or direct culture; it has to come from the business who believes in the vision, strategy and impact onto them as individuals.

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This is where an effective communication strategy, designed and implemented at the premature phase of the transformation is essential. A cultural shift requires patience and persistence as well as a collaborative effort from all parties involved.

Putting people first requires them to be aware of the changes they are about to witness. Therefore, take the time to be transparent with your employees at every level, and implement a clear structure to prepare them for the digital transformation, highlighting how it will change the business for the better.

Create a more efficient customer journey

Transformation must start with experience. We must look at what we are trying to change first and work back to then how we fix this.

A successful transformation will ensure every future digital interaction is designed to maximise engagement and minimise frustration.

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Both staff and the customer base must be on board before any digital tech is brought into place, where a bad experience with tech in its introductory phase, on either the customer or staff side, will result in an instant negative.

Every digital transformation strategy will face a host of challenges, but if the customer journey is well thought out and encourages understanding and engagement, stakeholders will revel in improved efficiency, combatting any resistance to change.

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Don’t position tech as a replacement

One of the most basic mistakes many businesses make is to try to use new technology as an attempt to replace human activity, rather than as a tool for increased efficiency and improved performance.

An employee may understandably be hesitant of digital transformation through fear that tech will replace them. This is why it is important to reassure a workforce in the early stages of digital transformation that it is being implemented to aid and improve their workflow while helping the business to perform with a competitive advantage.

The true value of transformation is about freeing up employee time to be more productive and increase focus on high-value work, instead of wasting human resources on minimal tasks. Communicating this effectively will drive a united vision for change, ensuring the success of the digital transformation strategy for the long-term.

Written by Alistair Sergeant, CEO, Purple Consultancy

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