Enjoying Success with Digital Transformation: Putting Human Experiences at the Centre

Enjoying Success with Digital Transformation: Putting Human Experiences at the Centre

18. April 2018

“If you can’t beat them, join them” is what the famous chess player Kasparov declared after losing to a computer for the first time in his supreme discipline back in 1997. Instead of fearing the future, he experimented with combinations of human chess players and computers – and experienced great success! The duo won against the machine every time.

What can we learn from this? The digital future does not exclude human beings, but makes them stronger! Of course, it takes careful planning and consideration. In a Harvard Business Review article, Tom Puthiyamadam, Global Digital Services Leader at PwC, writes that companies must critically evaluate how their digital initiatives affect customers and employees, since even the best of changes can have unexpected effects on humans.

In this blog post we will deal with our status quo and our future as employees, customers and partners. In short: people – in and for a digital organisation.

Human Experiences as a Key Success Factor in Digital Transformation

The conviction that humans must be the key element of digital transformation has become widespread. According to the recent Digital IQ study, the idea that focussing on technology alone is not enough is slowly but surely prevailing at all company levels.

Whether employees or customers: People are the bridge between an organisation and new technologies. Central to this is how they experience the change and whether they reject it or see it as an opportunity. Nonetheless, many organisations continue to invest more in strategies and tools than in transformation as a positive experience.

1. How to Enter New Digital Territory with Your Organisation
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Overall, the industry’s focus is not yet on optimising processes for people who should be working with technology, but rather on processing technology as a new field of experimentation. Now is the time to focus on people with their individual needs in order to benefit from investment in new technology.

How does that take place in the working world? In order to step into transformation, working digitally means you need to have the right people on board i.e. executives and employees who feel prepared and who fulfil the necessary criteria. For example, Deloitte recommends things such as a good understanding of the digital market, as well as a variety of soft skills like excellent communication, an entrepreneurial spirit, team orientation, innovation, customer focus and high emotional intelligence – all of these are central human skills.

But even humans cannot provide everything. Digital transformation requires new structures, an adapted working environment, other training systems and new values to enable employees to develop their full potential in the digital age. In addition, digitalisation must be properly assessed, because in the end no one benefits from setting expectations too high or underestimating the changes.

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2. How to Take the Right Digital Course for Your Organisation
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In a company that views digitalisation as an enabler, newly generated data is primarily about understanding people’s needs and habits, whether those of customers or employees. After all, any innovation is ultimately about improving the work and life of all involved.

As an organisation, you should ask yourself: How much digital do we actually want and how much is sensible? These three groups of people are the most important target group for most companies regarding the topic of digitalisation:

  • Employees. One of the main tasks is to inspire employees, motivate them and kindle their interest in digitalisation. There are often already expectations placed on companies since private life is already digitised to a large extent. Digital transformation tailored to employees is both a surprise and a joy in that it simplifies and accelerates tasks – working intuitively and fostering communication between people and departments.
  • Customers. Whether B2B or B2C, in online trade or telecommunications, every company looks at customers as one their key assets. They are all quite different, but they do have a few things in common: No one will take issue with positive experiences, courteous behaviour and the good developments that digitalisation brings with it. When used appropriately, digital tools make customer care more personalised and accessible, which in turn strengthens the relationship between the customer and your business – learn more about establishing a culture of customer care in this blog post!
  • Partners. People often forget that a functioning partner network is crucial for success. Use digitalisation to get closer to your partners! Collaboration and shared workflows are becoming simpler, more in line with industry standards. For example, a supply chain can be more seamless through automation and communication thanks to digital tools.

If you have these three personas in mind then you are already on the right track. With regard to the strategic planning of digital transformation, there are a few more reference points to help you keep an eye on the human factor:

  1. What should digitalisation bring to your organisation?
  2. How should and will communication change?
  3. What role should the company play in the digital world?
  4. Who does the planning and how will it be carried out?
  5. What technical requirements do we need and are the employees familiar with them?
  6. And of course, how do we achieve these goals together as an organisation?
What Is the Digital IQ of Your Organisation?

The quicker people adopt new technologies, the greater the potential to expand the customer base, increase profits and improve efficiency, or even to develop a completely new business model. And what is your company’s digital IQ at the moment? After all, more than half of the 2,200 executives interviewed said that that their company IQ was “high” or “very high”.

Positive associations are crucial for digital IQ. Companies also suffer when customers and employees receive too little attention. Creating a better customer experience is deemed to be a digital priority by only 10 percent of companies, but this figure was as high as 25 percent back in 2016. This imbalance leads to serious problems in the market, slows down the implementation of technologies and hinders the growth and development of companies and new technologies.

Digitalisation Favours a People-focused Company Culture
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Of course, the individual must be prepared – but the atmosphere must be created. It has been proven that companies that seamlessly implement and live out transformation already cultivate a special culture. This is characterised by openness and honest communication.

Especially in the area of communication, digital opens up new possibilities for interdisciplinary, close cooperation across departments and distances – something which successful companies take advantage of.

Employee engagement is generally high – they like their colleagues, supervisors and of course their work, and they engage in lots of exchange. This type of employee is often the real driver of digital initiatives, therefore a company culture characterised by innovation and healthy communication is one of the top priorities of successful leaders.

Silicon Valley is the typical example, but even conventional versions like the credit card company Visa are cited when it comes to focussing on people. Thanks to flat hierarchies and digital communication, ideas have a freer rein and win projects through by changing perspective.

The conclusion is rarely as simple as it is here: It’s not that digitalisation works best when the focus is on people – it’s that it can only work when the focus is on human experiences.

However, when it is actively and enthusiastically implemented; when people navigate the ocean of unlimited digital possibilities safely; when connections are strengthened and communication becomes more seamless; when the potential of bits and bytes is seen and used, digitalisation becomes a great asset to every company.

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