Two years on from the start of the pandemic, the topic of digital transformation continues to generate conversation. Yet, we’re in a vastly different position compared to 2020, and it shows in the way we approach digital transformation, explores Rob Robinson, head of Telstra Purple, EMEA.
Two years ago, digital transformation was a survival tactic that most businesses had no choice but to embark on. Today, the technology implemented in 2020 has reached maturity, and the attitudes within businesses have changed considerably. We’ve seen that digital transformation efforts need to respond to their macro-environment, to the business landscape, as well as the social, political, and economic backdrop. With this in mind, businesses need to reflect on how they can ensure that their approach constantly evolves in response to business needs and objectives.Â
Digital transformation allowed businesses to survive through the worst of the pandemic, but as many businesses now move from surviving to thriving, it’s essential that they step back and reassess their approach.
As we now find ourselves in very different circumstances in comparison to the fully-remote working model from 2020 and much of 2021, we have gained the distance needed to see from a different perspective. Early digital transformation attempts were undertaken with frantic urgency during the pandemic, as IT departments were faced with the manifold challenges of moving an entire workforce online essentially overnight. Organizations had to grapple with complex transitions from on-prem to cloud workloads and the rise of a wide range of new cyber threat vectors. Businesses have learned a lot through trial and error over the last two years, and fortunately, we’re now in a position to put our learnings into practice and embark on a smoother journey.Â
Most importantly, businesses have learned that digital transformation doesn’t need to be reserved for high-pressure, last-ditch situations such as those necessitated by the pandemic. We should note that there were a number of organizations that were already working in a remote capacity, and for these organizations, the pandemic had little impact from a business operations perspective.Â
Digital transformation is a lifeline in these times, but it can be so much more than this for businesses. Now, it’s increasingly being seen as a vehicle to enable and encourage innovation and business growth. Business leaders responsible for developing and implementing digital transformation projects now do so with key questions in mind, such as: how will this project enable employees to work in a new capacity? How will this lead to the progression of business objectives? And ultimately, how will this create long-term and sustainable value?Â
Recent research from IDCOpens a new window has observed this shift towards alignment between digital transformation and an organization’s business plan. The report finds that 50% of businesses now have a roadmap in which the digital plan and business plan are two sides of the same coin. This comes in contrast to two years ago, when almost three-quarters of businesses had no digital roadmap. This demonstrates very clearly that not only attitudes but actions, too, have changed drastically since the lockdown-era transformation. Now, digital transformation is instrumental to businesses’ growth strategy.Â
It’s no secret that digital transformation is a complex undertaking. Efforts are often plagued by issues leading to stalling or even abandonment of the project, and this can be disastrous. The Boston Consulting GroupOpens a new window found that the rate of failure is astonishingly high, with 70% of digital transformation projects missing out on achieving their goals. As we’ve seen digital transformation become inextricable to growth and success, it is critical that organizations know how to set themselves up for this.Â
Fundamentally, issues arise when digital transformation is not undertaken with a focus on how and why people will work in this new way, and this all comes down to shifting attitudes away from technology, and onto people. Too often, digital transformation appears as â€˜tech for tech’s sake’ â€“ meaning it introduces a host of new technological capabilities, but its purpose and value is not clearly designed for, or communicated well enough to, cross-function teams. Technology should be adopted with people in mind rather than the other way around, and this kind of thinking starts with deep reflection on your business culture.
Business leaders need to ensure that they foster an environment in which employees are encouraged and stimulated to learn and innovate. With this comes an attitudinal change at all levels, driven from the top, as digital transformation is seen as a positive learning curve. When implementing large-scale change, it’s natural that there will be challenges and obstacles to overcome, but molding your transformation around your people means that this can be seen in a positive light as a learning opportunity and enabler of future success.Â
Paving the Way for Future SuccessÂ
Another key difference in the way digital transformation is perceived today is that it is no longer viewed as temporary. We know that digital transformation is here to stay, and this means ensuring that we continually respond to any teething problems as they arise. Doing so is crucial not only to the success of the project but to maintaining positive attitudes. This will encourage employees to make an effort to respond intelligently to problems rather than letting them halt or thwart projects. One of the most notable examples of an issue with this potential is the increased range of cyber attack vectors.Â
Moving towards hybrid working brings a host of challenges, the biggest of which is the difficulty associated with allowing information to be shared and accessed beyond the four walls of an office. Now, employees can work from their home devices, in the range of external people who can gain access to sensitive information easier than ever before. There are also further matters to contend with, including the presence of unsecured IoT devices, which have increasingly become a mainstay in homes.Â
According to research from Which?Opens a new window , the increased presence of IoT devices in the home has led to more than 12,000 cyber attacks per week. Digital transformation depends on us working in new and different ways, so it’s imperative that we combat the negative sides of this too. Fortunately, we’re seeing that this is working out. According to this year’s ClubCISO Information Security Maturity Report, moves to hybrid or remote working have brought about a positive change in attitudes to organizational security, with 46% of organizations indicating an improvement. This is a testament to the power of a cultural change that emphasizes learning and collective responsibility. In this culture, employees feel empowered to take accountability for their individual security as part of the collective business defense against attack.Â
Though today we have clearly progressed from the type of digital transformation embarked upon in 2020, that doesn’t mean the journey ends here. It bears repeating that digital transformation is a constantly â€“ evolving, ongoing process. Considering its objective is now to drive increased growth and business success, it needs to be primed to adapt in response to business changes related to this so that the journey can continue.Â
What are your learnings from your digital transformation journey so far? How are you bracing for change? Share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .
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