Is Your Company Culture Holding Up Your Digital Transformation?

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The race is on for companies large and small to digitally transform. Yet despite the sense of urgency felt in boardrooms and IT departments across the globe, studies reveal a general sense of inertia around digital transformation.

A recent survey by Dimensional Research showed that 70% of IT stakeholders in the UK and USA feel that business execs are holding the process up.

While that doesn’t make for happy reading, it does shine a light on one of the major driving forces of digital transformation that can’t be ignored. We’ve talked before about the importance of getting all teams and business leaders on board first and foremost. With figures like this, it’s easy to see why a collaborative approach from the top down can make all the difference to the speed of adoption throughout the organisation.

Without the business execs leading the way, the message can get lost, muddied, or ignored.

Be a disrupter, not the disrupted

One big reason to transform digitally is to stay competitive. Ultimately, the aim is to stay slick, and disrupt the marketplace you’re in with can’t-be-without digital products.

By making things easy for your customers, providing ways for them to connect with you, and offering added value in the way of streamlined digital services and products, you can cement yourself as a go-to brand. Lovely stuff indeed, but taking it one step further with innovative products that actively disrupt the marketplace is something that’s harder to achieve.

The same study from Dimensional Research showed that 50% of the companies in the survey felt they would be the disrupted, not the disrupters in 2018. When pressed, 61% said a lack of investment in people and budget were the main issues.

That reveals a significant lack of confidence in the process to be sure. But beyond that, it again points to a larger problem. That the task of really digitally transforming and getting people across the business together in a cohesive way is something that’s proving inordinately difficult for a huge number of businesses out there.

The problem with silos

It all comes down to those pesky business silos. Many companies have an issue with disparate departments, and especially a lack of cohesion between business and IT teams. A mammoth project like digital transformation relies on people’s endorsement across the organisation. After all, everyone will be required to adopt and champion the new technology introduced.

Being aware of stumbling blocks like this before the digital restructure even begins to take shape will help you to approach your digital transformation in the right way.

Here are just some of the ways to tackle silos:   

  • Delve into the organisation’s mindset – by identifying what barriers need to be broken down, you’ll be in stronger, better-informed position. This will enable you to create a plan of action for active, free-flowing information from the start.
  • Develop a shared vision – communication really is key. Anyone who feels disconnected from the project is unlikely to champion it. Instead, share goals and connect teams with a joint vision that adds value to everyone’s day-to-day lives.
  • Motivate teams – this all comes down to effective management. Business leaders from the CEO downwards should encourage, motivate and inspire their teams to adopt change whether that’s through incentives, or be educating them on the benefits of the changes.

Innovation and internal politics

Innovation, as we’ve mentioned, is the key to becoming a disruptive force in the marketplace. But how do you create truly innovative products along with getting buy-in from everyone across the company? In fact, the two are more closely linked than you might think.

Tech experts will all be familiar with the Agile Manifesto, written way back in 2001. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is an outdated concept, however. This long-standing philosophy has as much relevance in today’s tech world as ever.

It’s four principles focus on:

  • Individuals and interactions
  • Working software
  • Customer collaboration
  • Responding to change

Notice the emphasis on people in two of the four points. Read the fuller text on the manifesto’s page, and you’ll find that Individuals and interactions take priority over processes and tools, and customer collaboration over contract negotiation.

Yet it’s the last point that has much to do with the idea of people driving digital transformation. Responding to change requires agility and flexibility. To respond to feedback and use it to develop better products and ways of working. To create something that innovatively targets the wants and needs of customers and people within the business. And to do this, you need to be all over the people element of your digital transformation.

Remembering the human element

Of course, we can’t talk about the human element without mentioning the role of UX designers in the digital transformation process. And why? Because they are the gatekeepers to connecting people with tech.

As we’ve seen, people changes are often the hardest to implement, and the most important to get right if you want your digital transformation to hit the ground running. UX designers effectively bridge the gap between IT and people by basing all products and platforms around the users, whether that’s customers, or people within the business.

This provides a valuable insight into what will and can work, as well as revealing any issues at the earlier stages of a product’s development. But much more than that, adopting an approach that relies on UX design can give you a powerful tool to break down those business silos, and nurture a shared vision across the business.

Placing individuals and interactions top of the list

Navigating through the involved process of a digital transformation relies on a few key elements. Not least, the endorsement and shared goals of people throughout the business, from the stakeholders to business execs, managers, and employees, right through to the customers.

This is one of the hardest things to tackle effectively. But by first understanding where the issues and challenges lie, and then taking a targeted approach to breaking down those barriers, you can take control of your digital transformation.

The Agile Manifesto puts it best when it places individuals and interactions top of the list. This is something that UX designers champion in their day-to-day work. Remember this, and adopt the right approach, and you can be the disruptor, not the one who’s left behind.

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