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Blog: Digital transformation isn’t about technology but people

Heidi Tetri

June 28 2021

Digital transformation isn’t about technology but people | Vincit
The era of digitalization has brought about the rapid development of company processes and technologies. Only a decade ago, digitalization concentrated on technological choices, but it wasn’t aligned with the optimization of internal processes or customer experience. Today, things are different. Companies that want to ensure their future competitiveness need to focus on their staff and customers, as the true potential for change lies with them.
Digital transformation isn’t about technology but people | Vincit

In the largest companies, digitalization may have become commonplace across the majority of business processes, but that doesn’t mean organizations aren’t still adapting to change. Some organizations are suffering from a digital overdose while trying to manage software overlaps. At the same time, they may be trying to figure out whether their chosen digital solutions support their employee as well as their customer processes or whether their company practices are going to have to adapt to the conditions set by the systems used.

Aiming at a more agile strategy

No change should be undertaken without a clear purpose in mind. The first thing to do is to come up with an objective. This goal is then used to update the digital strategy, which will guide further actions. These will help to turn the necessary changes into bite-size projects and promote quick progress on the road map.

Traditional strategy work, which typically sets all operations in stone for several years, needs to be looked at from a new angle. Attention should be paid to whether the strategy is agile enough and whether it can be updated to competitively account for any changes in the operational environment. Agile strategy work and following the road map require a continuous process – in other words, human activity.

To make the strategy more agile, it needs to be seen as a never-ending, living and developing process which not only takes change and uncertainties into consideration but also reacts to them, thus enabling the creation of something new. Gone are the days when strategies were drawn up by the management group behind closed doors. In the future, the success of companies will be determined by their ability to engage both the staff and customers in strategy work and by their capacity to create systematic opportunities for recognizing even the weakest of observable signals.

Better results and competitive advantage through engagement

Organizational changes do not just magically happen, nor are they implemented by making technological choices or by enforcing top-down solutions. Most work is still carried out, managed and enabled by people. Technological choices may support and change the process, but technology doesn’t equal change.

According to studies, people want to have a say in any changes that affect them, whether they’re related to developing the customer purchase journey or to changes that impact on the employees’ everyday work. We all have a need to be seen and heard as well as to participate in the development of activities that have an effect on our lives. This doesn’t mean that all wishes are automatically granted, but in the best case scenario they will be taken into account and considered in relation to other objectives and limitations. People working in various units and departments often have ideas about points of development and new opportunities. Rooted in daily work, they are able to provide valuable insights for the development of operations and processes.

A reactive company with a fixed strategy can become more agile and future-oriented by adopting various futures and design thinking methods. These types of companies have processes which allow them to continuously iterate their strategies. They have also broken down their development projects into bite-size chunks, which allows them to change direction when faced with internal pressures or changes in the business environment.

Future-oriented companies can also train their staff to proactively recognize quiet signals which can then be systematically collected. When this information is used in development work, it creates a competitive advantage in relation to companies which make decisions solely on the basis of executive observations and slavishly follow strategies that dictate the direction of the companies for five years at a time.

Change doesn’t stop once a project is complete

The digital transformation of a company often comprises several consecutive or overlapping projects aiming at a common goal. Even as one project ends, the overall change doesn’t. We typically consider a project complete once some operational or technological goal has been achieved, even though it isn’t before this point that the change is introduced into the daily grind in the form of a new digital tool, transformed process or customer journey.

This is why working together mustn’t end at finding consensus at the beginning of a project. Instead, the best outcome is achieved by providing enough resources and support during the implementation phase. It makes sense to consider the ways in which changing practices are implemented through trainings, sparring and working together – in other words, by engaging the people affected by the change. Doing this ensures that the new practices become an integral part of the organization.

Your journey to change doesn’t need to be a lonely one. We can provide you with the tools and competence that will enable you to create different types of ecosystems and new business models. We can also help you design different processes – including an agile digital strategy process – assess your current models and turn your organization more agile through coaching. Interesting in hearing more? Give the Vincit Now team a call or send us a message!

More on the topic: 

  • Elävä strategia, Ritakallio & Vuori, 2019
  • Think again, Grant, 2021
  • Bisnesantropologia ja muut ihmistieteet strategiatyössä, Leskelä, 2020

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