The speed at which industries were forced to digitalize following the start of the pandemic was totally unforeseen. An IDG Research business impact survey from mid-2020 showed 59% of IT decision-makers felt pressured to accelerate their digital transformation.

With no signs of this change slowing down, it’s important that businesses adapt to this new digital era as soon as possible—but this can only be done successfully and sustainably with change management.

What Exactly is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is the process of assimilating centralized digital technologies across all levels and operations of a company. It’s important to note that digital transformation is not simply about digitizing your services. Rather, it is the holistic adoption of digital-first data applications across your philosophies, collaborations, and processes.

Internally, one way this can manifest is in the form of automation and the deployment of bots. This streamlines operations in labor-intensive areas like maintenance and supply chain management. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in India has named automation as one of its top three priorities for tech budget allocation. This is expected to increase efficiency and centralization in everything from customer engagement to supply chain management and even compliance. Meanwhile, ITC Infotech is empowering its 9,000 employees with bots that can take over mundane software tasks – thereby freeing up their employees’ production schedule.

Of course, the ways businesses market their products and services have evolved, too. There is more emphasis on digital channels, given their importance for tapping into tap into new markets. Other tools brands now employ include SEO and content marketing. 

Ayima Kickstart outlines how these strategies have become crucial for creating a “successful organic campaign”. Customers have fully embraced transacting online, and they also do a lot of their research on brands and products over the Internet, getting their information from blogs, review pages, and other types of online content. In fact, with over 4.72 billion daily internet users, it’s safe to say that consumers have long embraced digital transformation and fully expect companies to follow suit.

How Does Change Management Play a Role in Digital Transformation?

As mentioned earlier, digital transformation is a multi-faceted process. To keep up with the constant vicissitudes of technology and user expectations, a dedicated strategy is essential. Otherwise, companies are only using band-aid solutions that leave them vulnerable for the next wave of changes. A Couchbase survey even revealed that 90% of CIOs and tech leaders have failed at trying to execute their own digital transformation schemes.

While there are different ‘Types of Change Management’, the very rapid nature of digital transformation necessitates a comprehensive approach that spans everything from employee training to senior road mapping. Here are the basic steps you can expect:

1. Conduct a company-wide performance assessment

While every digital transformation program will look different, it’s important to first have a fair and thorough performance assessment covering everyone from C-suite executives to entry-level laborers. This will serve as your baseline and should reveal departmental weaknesses like low profits, poor customer service, or high turnover rates. This is also a chance to concretize your company culture and values so that you may consider these during your pivots—and make sure the changes you make are still aligned with your organization.

Since these changes will affect the whole company, it’s also important to hear any grievances or suggestions early on. From here, the executive stakeholders can weigh this information and sign off on the necessary upgrades and adjustments.

2. Clarify your messaging and goals

Once you’ve developed a road map, you must then create a communications plan. This should clearly outline your communication methods (for both internal and external parties), the steps you’ll be taking, and the specific goals you’re aiming for.

This is especially crucial considering Gallup data reveals that only 27% of employees actually believe in their company’s mission and vision. On top of this, a survey of 2,000 UK employees shows that almost half of respondents didn’t know their company values. If this is not addressed in your communications plan, your digital transformation initiative will be met with resistance, or worse, indifference.

3. Reinforce your transformation with scalable investments

Here is where you turn words into action. One of the top reasons why change management fails is due to a lack of resources. This can be especially damning in digital transformation initiatives, where non-scalable applications (think legacy systems) are practically useless.

Some of the best efforts you can invest in are training and expandable hardware. Training will address software and policy changes such as data-sharing and client-facing. Mastercard has rolled out initiatives like this, which have been promoting e-learning to upskill their teams for digital transformation. Mastercard found that by offering personalized courses, it could satisfy employee career objectives and company-wide service expansions. When creating your own upskilling initiative, you should always make sure it takes employee goals and convenience into account.

At the same time, as hybrid working becomes commonplace, it will be even more valuable for teams to be outfitted with upgradable means to work remotely. Aside from office equipment, this could also include ergonomic accessories and phone plan sponsorships. This will help employees be physically and mentally equipped to reframe their processes. For instance, EY UK has said its workers can continue to work remotely, but it will also keep its offices open for those who prefer such environments.

Why Should All Companies Use Change Management?

Change is never easy—especially in the middle of a pandemic. But rather than holding onto outdated procedures for the sake of ‘tradition’, businesses that hope to make it through must embrace that change is the only constant. The best way to overcome the challenges of inevitable change is to accept it, understand it, and mold it for your unique organization.

Article written for the exclusive use of goodelearning.com

By Alessa Benson