Digital Transformation’s Vital Human Element

In an earlier blog post, we called attention to recent predictions for increased spending on digital transformation efforts—Forrester says digital transformation budgets will “edge up into the trillions” and IDC forecasts that worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies will exceed $2.1 trillion in 2019.

Increased investment is encouraging, but it’s only the setup for the digital transformation story. Many questions have yet to be answered.

For their part, business leaders are asking how they can get the most out of their increasing technology investments, while ensuring they remain competitive in the digital future. You, the end-user, are also wondering “Now what?” but your questions are different—What does digital transformation even look like? What will it entail? How will work change, in general, and for me in particular?

The answers can be found in the rest of the story, which is mostly about you. You are a vital part of your company’s digital transformation success—the principal character in an epic tale.

Defining digital transformation is challenging—it’s not an “event” that happens, but rather a shift that occurs over a period of time. Noted tech expert Dion Hinchcliffe has described digital transformation as a “…caterpillar to butterfly process, moving gracefully from one way of working to an entirely new one, replacing corporate body parts and ways of functioning, completely in some cases, to capture far more value than was possible using low-scale, low-leverage legacy business.”[1]

It’s likely that digital transformation has already begun at your organization. Increased collaboration, cross-departmental initiatives, more frequent software updates, and a greater reliance on new technologies and tools to make business decisions—these are all manifestations of digital transformation.

But not all endeavors have been successful. In a 2016 study, 350 IT professionals were asked what worked and what didn’t as their organizations introduced new technologies and operational approaches. Of those surveyed, 27 percent believed digital transformation efforts would have been more successful if their organization had made better efforts at ensuring that communication was clear between IT staff and company employees. Furthermore, 22 percent indicated that better employee training was needed, and 14 percent noted a lack of technical support for using the new tools.

To ensure success, organizations need to improve how they communicate change and intensify their focus on developing your skills. They will need to cultivate your proficiency with software—more so than ever before—and work toward the goal of company-wide mastery of technology with immersive learning programs that address your varied learning preferences.

Although digital transformation is often framed as a way in which organizations can move forward, a 2016 Pew study suggests that it works in your favor, too. According to the report, of those surveyed who identified themselves as “professional learners”:

  • 65% said their learning in the past 12 months expanded their professional network
  • 47% said their extra training helped them advance within their current company
  • 29% said it enabled them to find a new job with their current employer or a new one
  • 27% said it helped them consider a different career path

As end-users and professional learners, you need to understand that change is inevitable, imminent and necessary for digital growth. Embracing it will enable you to craft a compelling narrative, both for your company and for yourself.

[1] “What digital transformation really means,” by Galen Gruman, Infoworld, (June 14, 2016)
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