People are key to driving transformation. Source: Shutterstock

People are key to driving transformation. Source: Shutterstock

Want to start on the right foot in going digital? Begin with the people

BUSINESSES that wish to stay relevant, digital transformation must be a strategic imperative.

Often, in their rush to go digital, organizations focus solely on aspects such as acquiring the right talent and obtaining the latest technology.

For a business to truly stand out in this already saturated market, however, the key to transformation success lies in leveraging people to drive the change. If employees are not ready to hop on board the digital-first bandwagon, transformation will not happen.

Perhaps the greatest hurdle to achieving a digital-first culture is the resistance to change when things get too comfortable. Organizations often make the crucial mistake of forcefully fitting employees into the mold of digitization, which will only perpetuate resentment. Also, even if the change is implemented, it will not be sustainable.

To mitigate this, organizations must create a cultural blueprint that focuses on digital competencies. Leaders must ensure that the company can thrive in an environment where change is the norm, with employees that can bounce back quickly after setback.

There must also be space for bottom-up communication at every step of the transformation journey, where people feel like they have a hand in making change happen.

When they do, they would be less likely to resist change. Further, action learning through small empowered teams will help build a fluid and networked structure, which would facilitate a culture of change within an organization.

Also, for a digital-first organization to not only be sustainable but to also thrive, collaborations and cross-functional workings are indispensable.

The intentional breaking down of silos must be kept at the forefront. This allows employees to support and leverage each other’s expertise and knowledge whilst embracing change.

HR leaders must look at helping employees transition into the digital age by creating ecosystems that empower people to take risks, encourage experimentation, and drive innovation.

Further, by championing performance measurement and incentive structures that are aligned with digital goals, HR leaders can enable people to think innovatively and take accountability for risks in the organization.

Finally, business leaders must model this by showing inclusiveness and adaptability, building a case and momentum for digital transformations. Change trickles down from the top, and when there is a visible change from top management, it is more likely that employees will follow suit.

Digital transformation is inevitable. If companies want to maintain a competitive edge and not be eliminated, digitalization is the only way to go. They must bear in mind that this transformation is ultimately more about investing in a digital mindset and culture of growth within an organization than acquiring new tech.

Therefore, to transition seamlessly into digital, organizations must intentionally integrate a digital approach to their brand, and get people to commit to digital agendas through the internalization of progressive values and behavior.