What role does "digital culture" play in the success of technology adoption? Source: Shutterstock

What role does “digital culture” play in the success of technology adoption? Source: Shutterstock

Culture key to success with digital projects, but who’s responsible?

ORGANIZATIONS have been chasing digital transformation for the better part of a decade now.

From the shift to the cloud to the collection and analysis of big data, to artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) — the definition of digital transformation has changed a lot from when organizations first started out.

Although preliminary trials and pilot projects yield reasonable results, it seems as though organizations fail to fully harness most of the investments they make in any kind of technology, especially when they try to scale them across the organization.

To a great extent, the fault doesn’t lie with the technology or the strategy of the organization. It lies with the people of the organization and the culture it has created thus far.

According to a Gartner, companies need a digitally dextrous workforce in order to foster agility, ensure collaboration, and adopt new digital technologies.

“The digital component of most jobs is increasing. Technical skills are important, but are not enough to steer a successful digital business transformation, said Gartner Research VP Helen Poitevin.

“Business and IT leaders need to employ the right talent with a specific set of mindsets, beliefs, and behaviors — which we call digital dexterity — to launch, finish and capitalize on digital initiatives.”

Given the dash to digital, companies of course value digital dexterity and want to foster a culture within their organizations where digital products and solutions are not only welcomed but also actively sought after.

The question, therefore, is: Who is responsible for bringing about this change in the organization’s mindset and culture? Gartner essentially believes that the CIO and the Chief HR officer (CHRO) must share responsibility.

“Mindsets and practices shape culture, and technology acts as an amplifier of that culture. Technology by itself seldom changes an organization’s culture,” said Gartner Senior Research Director Daniel Sanchez Reina.

“Increasingly, it’s the responsibility of the CIO to operationalize the enterprise culture and the prevalence of digital dexterity in the workplace.

“The CIO will play a key role in supporting desired behaviors and changing the processes, procedures, policies and management practices that shape how work gets done to encourage desired behaviors.”

Gartner emphasizes that the CIO is the culture change leader and the CHRO is a key partner to the CIO in shifting the mindset of their own IT team members from “this is the way we have always done things” to “how can we do things better?”

Truth be told, several organizations today are hammering on with digital transformation and doing fine because their workforce is young, digital-first, and keen on acquiring new technology skills to improve their productivity, efficiency, and workflows.

But there are also organizations that lack such a workforce, and by extension, culture. At such organizations, CIOs must start chipping in, and strategize, to drive a real and tangible cultural change.