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Digital Transformation - It's Not All About Technology

Digital transformation is nothing new, in fact it’s probably one of the most talked about subjects I have ever come across, there are differing opinions on what the priorities are.  I have been involved in a number of digital transformation projects myself, and I can see where some of the challenges are, esp. in the targeted larger organisations that are trying to make a change from traditional models.

It's not an easy task considering the complexities involved, investment and pressure to execute it in the right way. In addition, there are also very strict timelines given the challenge from other companies doing the same thing, dependent on the on the industry /verticals.

The Biggest Hurdle

If I were to ask you what digital transformation means, I am sure the response will be; we need to invest in digital products; we need to invest in digital platforms; look at ways in optimising our back-end processes to save cost and improve efficiencies etc.

In some ways, that’s correct, all of the above play an integral part of the transformation journey, all are very important and require a specific skill set, experience and partnerhsips to be excuted in the right way. However, there is crucially more to it than just that in my opinion.

What underpins the success of digital transformation are not only toolkits, technology and the right resources but an understanding and education of what it actually means. The biggest hurdle we as humans have is a lack of understanding on a subject and the fear it brings to not only ourselves but peers and other colleagues. This results in confusion, frustration, a lack of progress and endless amounts of wastage (time/resources) in trying to get there. I've seen it from my own eyes and to some extent felt some of the emotions myself trying to get people to understand what it actually means - I live in hope I will succeed.

I am not a digital transformation expert by any means, I've not been part of huge projects, but crucially I like to play an important role in zeroing in on education, behaviour and culture. I consider these to be the make-or-break issues and not many people are too willing to go down those roads of discussion - possibly out of fear or an area of unknowns. Sometimes it's easy to talk about technology rather than focus on the impact of change on people.

It's about people and process

The fact is that any transformation project brings about a change, this means how a company is run, the types of processes they use, products and so forth. The impact of change will affect people, it has to if the drivers are to improve efficiencies, processes and reduction in operational costs.

Education and understanding of 'why' this is happening is important, what it 'means' needs to be articulated 'how' it will be executed needs to be made clear. The introduction of new technology to support digital transformational change must take into account a change in behaviours to see the overall value. Internal structures are likely to change with the use of new tools and there will also need to be a focus on training.

Gaining trust and to see a change in behaviour is crucial, people need to understand the real reasons for a digital transformation, to actually believe in it and engage in actions and behaviours support it.

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