Many organisations want to embrace modern digital operating models, driving value and efficiency and improving user experience. Whilst responsibility for digital transformation would usually lie with the chief technical officer or chief information officer, it can initially feel overwhelming for other board members. Asking the right questions and identifying barriers to success—and how to overcome these—are key to ensuring the change delivers good outcomes and that it ‘sticks’.
Before embarking on a digital transformation journey, it is important to understand the elements that make up the organisation’s digital network. From self-serve portals, VPNs and the portfolio of essential applications, it is important there is an initial understanding of where the organisation stands to truly reap the benefits of a digital transformation.
When it comes to committing to a transformation journey, board members should consider whether the process will be beneficial to employees and customers. Will it drive efficiency? Will it cut costs? Will it reduce task times? Will it increase demand or improve market share?
Are you on the right track?
If the answers to these questions are ‘no’, perhaps it is worth considering whether a change programme is right for the business. One way to ensure long-lasting change is by checking the thoughts of employees and customers. This will help to gauge an idea of whether the transformation is needed and what value it should be delivering.
Encouraging user confidence in technology is key—for both customers and employees—as this can often be a large barrier to adopting digital solutions. Ensuring a system works cohesively is essential in terms of the people, process and technology elements. For example, checking that the Wi-Fi connections in all working areas are reliable, by conducting Wi-Fi surveys and upgrading the network, will support the digital elements of the programme.
If you want success, plan for trouble
It is also essential for board members to ensure that good support is immediately available to users as technical problems are to be anticipated. It is better to presume something may go wrong and be prepared than be caught out. A service desk, specifically set up to ensure the new service is running smoothly, will be beneficial. After all, without good support and service, a digital change may cause friction and could fail.
Board members involved in design elements of a digital transformation need to ask the question “Who are the users?”. Typically, these are employees, customers, admin or IT support. Once this has been established, capturing the user’s journey and thinking about what they are trying to achieve should be included throughout the design process.
Considering the user and their journey in the design stage is often forgotten; however, involving the user allows for essential feedback that has been some of the best time investment for many businesses who do choose to make this adoption.
It can be easy to focus on the technology side of a change, rather than how and if users use the tech provided. If not used to their full potential, the benefits of committing to a change programme could be short-lived or even non-existent. There are a few ways to support customers and employees to adopt these new tools: it could be through direct user training, change champions and ambassadors, or online help and coaching.
The ongoing effects of a digital transformation should be thoroughly considered in the planning process and throughout the journey. Ensuring there are services and systems in place to train and educate employees and users will increase the chances of adoption, improve efficiency and drive value within teams.
Whilst it can be daunting to initiate a digital transformation, there are steps and methods that the board can firmly get behind. Knowing what questions to ask throughout the process and ensuring the change has been thoroughly planned whilst being alive to feedback—to identify barriers and improvements that may hinder the success of the transformation—will help a business to achieve change for good.
Tim Powlson is a principal consultant at business change consultancy Entec Si.