By: Caitlin Gibson
As remote work becomes the new normal for millions of employees, digital transformation strategies are being put to the test. Even though 70% of companies have one in development or in place, few are prepared for the digital demands of the current moment and the irrevocably-changed future that lies ahead.
That’s because most companies view digital transformation as a means to an end, rather than an enterprise-wide mindset. It’s more than a buzzword, optimization or efficiency gains opportunity, or way to enhance an existing business strategy. As MIT principal research scientist and author George Westerman put it, it has to be a “radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people, and processes to fundamentally change business performance.”
The Power of Digital Transformation
When strategies lack that scope, it can be costly. Of the $1.3 trillion spent on digital transformation in 2018 alone, about $900 billion was wasted when initiatives didn’t meet their goals. What’s more, an underdeveloped strategy can exacerbate an organization’s existing challenges. For example, if an insurance company has internal communication issues when it comes to manually processing claims, digitizing the claim submission process will only magnify that preexisting communication problem. In order to realize a digital transformation strategy’s full potential, everyone at the company has to adopt it as a mindset, a new way of doing business, and a renewed appreciation for what can be done with technology.
After all, this digital disruption has the power to improve customer relationships and employee engagement, support diverse organizational structures, secure data and protect privacy, and evolve products, services, and processes to keep up with the demands of the modern consumer. In other words, digital transformation can increase not only profitability in the short-term, but business resilience in the long-term, even in a future that’s hard to picture right now.
The Impact of Telecommuting
Before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way millions of people work, some companies outright forbid telecommuting for many positions. Now, for so many, those same jobs have to be done at home. Meaning, it was never that those jobs couldn’t be done remotely; companies just didn’t appreciate the value of making necessary telecommunication accommodations, even though, as we now know, they were always possible. Post-pandemic, businesses won’t be able to return to a world where telecommuting is forbidden. Rather, this is the time for companies to realize that with the right technology, a positive, healthy culture, and clear expectations, employees can be just as productive working from home.
Quite frankly, the businesses that embrace the digital transformation spurred by rapid advancements in telecommuting now are the ones that’ll last. Of course, industries like hospitality, car manufacturing, and grocery retail show us that not every business can go completely virtual—and that’s okay; that’s rarely the goal of digital transformation—nor can the economy run with virtual workforces alone. Yes, traditional business structures have to find ways to compete with the Amazons and Googles of the world, but they don’t have to completely emulate them.
Consider the ongoing digital transformation in the banking industry for example. By leveraging data analytics to make business decisions, advanced technologies to protect cybersecurity and update operating models, and internal communications software to drive the employee engagement needed to realize any digital transformation strategy, the industry stands to reimagine the way they do business—meeting the demands of today’s consumer—while still maintaining physical branches and in-person customer service.
That example shows us that digital transformation isn’t about creating room for only some industries and businesses to succeed, especially in times of unprecedented change; it’s about implementing widespread digital transformation in every industry and work sector—even those in which digital adoption used to seem unlikely—like the New York Stock Exchange closing its trading floor and moving to digital trading—because every industry will look different after the pandemic; digital transformation is essential for every business, in some way, now and in the future.
Achieving Your Digital Transformation Aspirations
So, how can you keep up with the way telecommunications is accelerating the development and implementation of your digital transformation strategy?
- Take an enterprise-wide approach.
Make sure that the CEO is at the helm of your transformation and that the entire company’s leadership is informed and onboard with the plan. Siloed strategies simply can’t take root and catalyze enterprise-wide change.
- Align the entire business around a clear set of objectives.
Before you invest in any software or technology, decide what you want to achieve. Think big. Rather than focus on incremental changes you can make, be open to significant shifts in the way you operate. Once you’ve determined which business outcomes you’re after, work backwards from there.
- Hone your organizational agility.
The development and execution of your digital transformation strategy is truly a test of your organizational agility—in other words, how your company reacts to change. Meaning, yes, you need to be prepared to move quickly, but you also need to ensure you have a strong foundation on which to adapt to changes. That means, in particular, prioritizing employee empowerment, so everyone at the company feels supported in creating and innovating to their full potential.
- Invest in a change communications software.
Your digital transformation strategy will undoubtedly require employee buy-in, and even behavior change, to achieve your goals. A change communications software is the key to creating that alignment across your workforce and amplifying productivity during times of change. You’ll be able to streamline your internal communications throughout the transformation and keep your internal and external messaging aligned.
As employees and their employers continue to explore the new possibilities of telecommunication, digital transformation strategies will have to keep up. To be successful in this effort, companies will need to view digital adoption as an enterprise-wide mindset, not just incremental changes here and there. It starts with recognizing that digital transformation is, at its core, a change management issue, and that means, among many things, you need to have healthy, strong internal communications in place. When you do, you’ll be much better prepared to adapt to and manage whatever lies ahead.