Digital Transformation Doesn’t Have to be Painful

employee looking at a blackboard with the words "digital transformation" on it and a drawing of software update process

Digital transformation is hard. This past year organizations have been forced to digitally transform to a work from home, contactless workplace. The fact that many did so quickly and successfully is a testimony to the vision and hard work of organizational leadership and employees.

We’re not out of the woods yet. Recent news stories about companies like Basecamp and the Washingtonian magazine are examples of how organizational responses to transformative events (like remote work or the BLM movement) are fraught with pitfalls. Missteps often stem from bypassing employee input and buy-in before making changes that impact the entire organization. It’s something to be mindful of as companies enter their next phase of digital transformation.

Expect that phase to be huge. In 2022, organizations are projected to spend close to $2 trillion on digital transformation efforts, according to a recent International Data Corporation report. Emerging and disruptive technologies are forcing organizations to transform to retain competitive advantage, or even just stay in business.

However, digital transformation is more than just updating a tech stack. Employees may not understand the reasons behind digital transformation, especially if the existing processes have been in place for a long time. Kicking off projects without addressing their concerns can destroy morale and hinder the ability to retain talent, ultimately impacting transformation efforts.

Enterprise process improvement ideologies of the past, like Six Sigma, Continuous Improvement (Kaizen) and Total Quality Management concentrated on slow, incremental improvements – not disruptive change. And these centered employees as the identifiers and creators of change. Even so, employees were often averse to the changes those programs introduced.

Today, as organizations face even greater pressure to digitally transform, approaches like employee surveys, continual learning programs and town halls can help employees understand the importance of transformation. Another is open innovation initiatives. According to this Harvard Business Review article, “Open innovation has the potential to widen the space for value creation: It allows for many more ways to create value, be it through new partners with complementary skills or by unlocking hidden potential in long-lasting relationships.” This description refers to collaboration between companies, but it could just as easily be intracompany collaboration.

A recent blog post on ParkMobile’s innovation week demonstrates the value of intracompany innovation. Employees from every area of the company work together to come up with improvements to technologies and workflows. This is a great way to get cross company alignment and develop a culture that embraces innovation. Employees who might feel defensive about how digital transformation could affect their employment can see the bigger picture of their organization’s challenges and goals. In the process, the organization can leverage some previously untapped skills and insights of their employees.

Of course, not every organization can take employees away from their core responsibilities for days or weeks for transformation efforts. That’s why many organizations rely on external partnerships to help drive transformation. At DataOceans, we’ve helped digitally transform the customer engagement technologies of many of our clients. Our comprehensive customer engagement platform enhances customer touchpoints at every stage to drive long-term growth, loyalty, and profitability. Talk to us about how we can partner with your organization to help you meet your digital transformation goals.