Digital transformation: It’s a concept that used to be only on the IT wish-list. However, it was greeted by skepticism in many circles, arriving with a promise of a more efficient enterprise and bringing the potential for big implementation headaches and user adoption and cost issues.
Some of the concerns may remain, but organizations today recognize that transforming the digital experience is not an IT problem; it is a priority that is essential for every part of the business. For example, a 2021/2022 survey report by Baker McKenzie found that in its 2020 survey, 37% of surveyed companies had yet to begin any broad digital initiative. However, in the 2021 survey, 77% have begun “accelerating and scaling” their efforts.
So, if digital transformation is part of your roadmap, you’re not alone. Working with companies across industries to secure the skilled talent behind their technology vision, we’ve seen the issues that determine the successes, and the pitfalls, in today’s world of rapid innovation. And being in the business of bringing skilled talent into the mix, we know how people are essential to addressing the challenges.
While a brief article is not the place to instruct leaders on leading a major business initiative, a high-level understanding of some of the issues and ideas can help you be on the lookout for pitfalls.
To boost that understanding, the following are ideas that can make or break your organization’s push for transformation and how talent matters to each of them.
Know Where You Stand—Beyond the Technology
Don’t start by asking, “How do we upgrade our systems?” Instead, ask, “How do we work today? Where are we strongest, and where are we struggling?” The classic consulting model begins with a current-state analysis of an organization’s functions. That’s because even if you know that a legacy system is holding back your accounting and financial operations, for example, a new system may not fix the problem if the processes associated with those functions are broken.
Why Talent matters: The people who drive your digital initiative will include those with deep technical experience and those with business instincts. To truly succeed, they must be able to look beyond the code they’re developing or systems they’re implementing and see that the results of their work will yield real impact. Yes, they can go through the motions on an ill-conceived project, but a trusted talent partner should be committed to making sure that doesn’t need to happen.
Don’t Limit Yourself to Doing the Same Things Better
Admittedly, this second piece of advice sounds obvious and perhaps preachy. However, in the real world of complex business processes, it is natural to focus on improvement at the expense of fundamental transformation. Are you considering improvements that could speed up responsiveness in a legacy information system? The result may be a band-aid solution that doesn’t last.
Why talent matters: Looking outside your current processes requires the company to venture into unfamiliar territory. For example, streamlining aspects of production, marketing, procurement and finance might be desirable, but bringing them together under one system could deliver more impact. That takes someone with skills that might not exist in-house, so mapping out what such a transformation could entail isn’t easy. Once again, bringing the right people into the room makes real transformation possible.
Prepare for a Journey
As one article put it, digital transformation is a journey. It is not a project. That journey begins with understanding the long-term vision and a commitment to specific near-term wins. Unfortunately, one of the biggest obstacles to that path is the ability to sustain the sheer variety of demands it entails over time.
Why Talent Matters: The skills needed to put technologies in place, manage projects, sustain support and measure results will vary over time. Access to the right skills means having the ability to secure great employees and leverage experienced contractors to execute on project-specific demands. Attracting and retaining talent is not something most organizations can do on their own, especially if they don’t have the networks or knowledge to recruit out of their usual comfort zones. More than ever, a staffing and talent partner will prove critical to securing the right people and ensuring they are positioned to deliver on their goals.
Moving Ahead: Put People First
Why is digital transformation so important? First, consider the end-users and look at the changing human expectations across the board. Customers demand an easy and transparent interaction with your organization, and so do employees and prospective job candidates. Developing products, reaching out to markets, and driving innovation require easy access to information, smart use of data, and anytime/anywhere collaboration.
As companies consider how business and life will progress beyond the turbulence of 2020 and 2021,
the need for digital transformation is reshaping how they think about change. Yes, the term has gained buzz-word status, but the Pandemic, the fluctuating recovery, and the rapid shifts between remote and onsite work models have made the need clear: getting technology right can no longer wait.