Do You Have the Skills to Navigate Businesses Through Digital Transformation?
Technology is a powerful enabler, but leaders need closer guidance in bringing about the business and cultural changes required to make digital transformation a success
When it comes to digital transformation, much of the debate so far has focused on new technology, and how businesses go about incorporating this into their business. Despite the inevitable importance of technology, more attention needs to focus on the fact that leaders in high-ranking positions at organisations still do not have the required level of skills and awareness to bring about the cultural evolution needed to achieve a fruitful digital transformation. This is according to PerformanceWorks, an international provider of training and consulting services for business leaders and managers.
Given the extent to which digital technologies have permeated both our personal and working lives, it can be easy to pigeon-hole digital transformation as being broadly a technological concern, with other factors being of secondary importance. However, according to Jeremy Blain, Founder and CEO of PerformanceWorks, this is an overly simplistic way of addressing digital transformation projects and their challenges, with the issue of leadership and the preparedness of leaders being of crucial importance.
Blain said: “Digital transformation has become something of a nebulous concept, so approaching it as a one-dimensional challenge isn’t sufficient if organisations want to make a real success of it. The technology aspect is evidently a huge part of it, but it’s crucial not to lose sight of the fact that a business is only as strong as its people.
“Unfortunately, leaders – often through little fault of their own – remain one of the biggest blockers to progress in this area. Implementing the cultural and human change that should accompany any digital transformation needs a comprehensive approach to training and long-term strategy which emphasises the gradual removal of older processes in favour of new ones, in a way that ensures staff are prepared and ready to embrace this evolution. At the moment, leaders still don’t have all the tools at their disposal to make this happen.”
To help better equip leaders to manage the human element of digital transformation, Blain believes that leaders themselves need in-depth training and guidance in the specifics of implementing digital transformation beyond the technological elements. This should include how best to train staff in new technologies and processes, how to free staff of the burden of time-consuming tasks and, essentially, how to build and carry out a strategy that ensures that this change in mindset is embedded from the top and maintained throughout the organisation in the long term.
He added: “Digital transformation comes from above: with that in mind, leaders need guidance in how best to do it, before they can then give effective guidance to the employees working for them. It’s about being able to balance the power of new technology with the need to maintain a high amount of human involvement, which helps keep internal morale high while ensuring that employees are well-placed to serve customers in the best possible way. By taking the time to equip themselves with this knowledge and insight, the chances of a seamless transition to a digital workplace will increase significantly. This is the key – build the right strategy from the very top, and the digital transformation will look after itself.”
He concluded: “This can only be achieved through consistent, inspiring leadership in which those in positions of responsibility are clear in what they want the long-term goal of the company’s digital transformation to be. The leader’s approach can’t be a piecemeal one: for it to be successful, leaders need to be present at the visionary level but also all the way through the process, otherwise the full benefits will never be seen. If this can be guaranteed, the labyrinth of digital transformation can be safely negotiated in the long run.”
(Source: Performance Works)