As the pandemic dispersed the workforce, necessitating more sophisticated means to connect, collaborate and communicate, digital transformation became a business imperative. Fikile Sibiya, CIO at fintech specialist e4, explains why a roadmap for the future is essential in this transformation, and elaborates on what it should entail.
Organisations in diverse industries are transforming their business models by embracing modern technologies to enhance their product offerings, client experiences and ways of doing business. Though this shift was already happening pre-pandemic, it has sped up considerably since 2019.
As all this analogue-to-digital transformation is occurring, and occurring at a fast pace, the existing workforce often does not have the requisite skills to keep up with the evolution. Bringing the workforce along on the organisation’s digital transformation agenda involves re-skilling and upskilling the workforce, at all levels, to understand and effectively work with and apply digital technologies.
Why a roadmap is important
When approached correctly, an organisation’s investment in technologies that empower their workforce see a major improvement in employee engagement and business performance. But with no roadmap, an investment that seems ground-breaking on paper never fully translates to the real world.
Technology is the foundation of digital transformation, but the workforce is the driving force. A roadmap gives clarity on the organisation’s transformation vision and helps the workforce create a link between their work and the organisation’s strategic objectives. It also empowers the workforce to make informed decisions that support the strategic imperatives of the organisation. Moreover, it provides a clear guide on skills and knowledge gaps and how to address these.
With a clear roadmap and proper implementation, digital transformation can empower the workforce of today with self-service capabilities, more robust data driven decision-making to deliver superior customer experience, automation of key processes which leads to efficiencies and enhanced productivity, and enhanced mobility and flexibility.
What a roadmap should entail
Firstly, organisations need to galvanise the workforce. The vision of digital transformation and what it means for the workforce needs to be palpable and exciting. It is about establishing a culture of innovation and digital curiosity. Organisations, therefore, need to clearly define and articulate the vision and the goals for the transformation and draw the link between the overarching strategy to the day-to-day activities of employees. Organisational leaders must also design a compelling experience for employees. This can be achieved by organisations implementing digital tools to make information readily accessible.
Secondly, it is crucial to not only invest in technologies, but also in people. Organisations need to upskill people strategically, often starting with high-impact roles. Invest in change management initiatives and efforts that are a catalyst to behavioural change. Empower the workforce with access to relevant and timeous information.
Furthermore, using a blend of technologies is important. These technologies, when used efficiently, assist in employee productivity, engagement and efficiencies. But, while building a culture of digital curiosity, cybersecurity needs to be built into solutions as data breaches have recently become a big concern for almost all organisations. Examples of these technologies and solutions are:
- Communication and collaboration tools
- Work/task management systems
- Document management platforms
- Virtual assistants (VAs)
- Data analytics
- Cyber security
- Technology-integrated workflows
The transformation journey should also be collaborative, and the workforce needs to be active participants. Employees have the best understanding of the on-the-ground customer experience, they know the flaws or weaknesses in business processes. It is important for organisations to encourage employees to be invested in the transformation by leading the innovations. Unlock potential by giving employees a level of autonomy to determine how, where and when to digitally transform their operations.
In the end, the human aspect should be at the heart of any transformative journey – not only with regards to re-skilling and upskilling people to effectively use modern technology solutions, but also managing attitudes towards these solutions. It is about going beyond understanding the need to change and adapt, to creating a culture where the workforce defends and promotes the use of technology. A culture where tomorrow is created today.