Business Technology

Why digital transformation starts with people, not tech

6 min read

10 October 2019

When people think of 'digital transformation' in business, they usually think of tech and lots of it. But achieving this doesn't mean tech has to take over.

No matter how advanced technology becomes, the reality is that it has all been designed and developed by people.

As businesses try to use technological advancements to stay competitive, it is critical that the human element of any digital transformation process doesn’t get overlooked. I’ll explain why…

What is the ‘transformation process’?

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Digital transformation sounds tricky, let’s break it down.

Primarily, digital transformation aims to improve the customer experience by delivering the best service with relevant products.

Your staff need to be ‘on side’

But employees must buy into the plan for the change to be effective and be open and willing to adapt to the changes in technology for a transformation to blend successfully.

The transformation process will require a business to completely rethink its current structure to ensure that the human element is completely overhauled and invested in. In many cases, this includes a complete change in mindset in order to accommodate these changes.

Don’t forget that your customers are human too, not just numbers on a database. They need to see that there are humans behind the brand who actually care about them, can empathise with them and are prepared to talk and listen to them.

No matter how advanced the technology is, the investment will be wasted if people don’t embrace the change. Here’s how you can help them do it…

1. Get going with the cultural shift

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Changing the internal culture of a business isn’t an easy process.

Changing the internal culture of a business consistently surfaces as one of the biggest barriers to digital transformation but is critical to the long-term success of the change.

So an effective communication strategy designed and implemented at the earliest phase of the transformation process is essential.

What’s needed…

A cultural shift requires patience and persistence as well as a collaborative effort from all parties. Putting people first means that they not only need to be aware of the changes, but they need to understand them innately.

Therefore, as a leader, you have to take the time to be transparent with your employees at every level, and implement a clear structure to prepare them for the digital transformation, highlighting how it will change the business, and subsequently their work life, for the better.

2. Create a more efficient customer journey

Part of transforming your business digitally is improving your customer journey.

A successful transformation will ensure every future digital interaction is designed to maximise engagement and minimise frustration so you need to get your customer base on board before any digital tech is brought into place.

This is because a negative experience with tech in its introductory phase could result in customers losing trust in your business.

The human touch…

Don’t forget that your customers are human too, not just numbers on a database. They need to see that there are humans behind the brand who actually care about them, can empathise with them and are prepared to talk and listen to them.

Every digital transformation strategy will face a host of challenges, but if the customer journey is well thought out and encourages understanding and engagement, stakeholders will benefit from the improved efficiency and will, therefore, embrace the changes.

3. Don’t position tech as a replacement

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Aiming for digital transformation doesn’t mean ‘the robots’ have to take over.

One of the most basic mistakes many businesses make is to try to use new technology to try and replace human activity, rather than as a tool for increased efficiency and improved performance.

Employees may understandably be hesitant of digital transformation through fear that tech may replace them, and this is why it is important to reassure a workforce in the early stages of digital transformation that it is being implemented to aid and improve their workflow, whilst helping the business to perform with a competitive advantage.

The true value of ‘transformation’

The true value of transformation is about freeing up employee time to be more productive and increase focus on high-value work, instead of wasting manpower on minimal tasks.

Communicating this effectively will drive a united vision for change, ensuring the success of the digital transformation strategy for the long-term.