They say necessity is the mother of all invention. As a growing number of organisations turn to digital tools in a desperate bid to limit virus transmission and maintain some semblance of normality, it’s clear that this old prover holds true.
Before the pandemic, approximately one quarter of the UK’s workforce operated remotely. While no figures are available yet, we can assume that that number is now significantly higher.
Though digital transformation has been on the agenda of most organisations for some time, the severity of Covid-19 is pushing forward-thinking organisations to embrace it wholeheartedly. What’s more, the phased integration of digital solutions, so popular in the past, has been pushed out by the need for rapid change.
Despite the drastic circumstances we face, there are some upshots to this imposed, rapid transformation. Those that adapt their models and utilise technology will hold a significant advantage over their competitors, both through and beyond this difficult period.
Here are three fundamental elements to digital transformation, that the coronavirus crisis is forcing businesses to address.
The reason 70% of digital transformations fail is not because of the technology, rather it tends to be a people issue. Countless studies have identified employee resistance to new technologies as a major barrier to success. Perhaps it’s because they’re afraid the tech will make them redundant or maybe they haven’t been properly trained to use the software. Whatever the reason, understanding the role employees play in digitising your operations is critical.
So how, when people aren’t in the office, can’t attend courses or training sessions and are stressed trying to manage their now melded family and work lives, is Covid-19 a positive for digital transformation?
Simple: employees are welcoming of tools that will enable them to fulfil their roles efficiently. With so much juggling to do, and an appreciation that the crisis is beyond anyone’s control, the promise of digital solutions that make their lives easier is very appealing, whether it’s to cut down on administrative tasks or avoid having to go into the office. Project management tools, such as Trello and Teamwork, help ensure transparency and productivity. While video conferencing tools, like Zoom and Google Hangouts, enable clarity of messaging and accountability.
Whatever technology you choose to communicate and support your workforce, be sure that it is user-friendly, engaging and conducive to improving their experience of work. After all, happy people build happy companies.
Bureaucracy has long been a thorn in the side of many digitisation projects. Dated waterfall approaches, unrealistic timelines and limited budgets, resulted in highly restrictive, rushed and poor implementations that were destined to fail.
With no other options, much of the pencil pushing has been set aside, as business leaders scramble to find and deliver workable solutions to support day-to-day business. They’re adopting a more Agile mindset to their IT. The fast-paced, iterative nature of Agile, married with its emphasis on collaboration and autonomy, makes it the perfect methodology for all organisations, particularly in times of crisis where you need to adapt quickly to the changing environment. Working models can be developed quickly, issues are identified early-on and waste is minimised.
The greatest driver for business process automation, in general, is regulation. Just look at the host of RegTech solutions developed to comply with PSD2 and GDPR. Now, it seems, we can add global pandemics to the list.
In the past the automation of business-critical operations would have required countless meetings, months of strategising and a drawn-out implementation plan. Now, with less available human resources, organisations are leaning on technology to do much of the heavy administrative lifting, reviewing and introducing plug and play SAAS products to automate many HR, marketing, finance, and logistics functions.
The world of work has changed. Digital transformation is no longer a vague buzz word to be bandied around the boardroom. It is happening in every business, large and small, across the globe. As we move beyond the initial shock of Covid-19, the ‘new normal’ will involve more agile working models, a greater organisational affinity for automation and a better work/life balance for their employees…all made possible by technology.
Vedran Tolic is COO at Q Agency