By: Noel Thompson, Director of South Africa, Conosco
Over the past year, we’ve seen the rapid development and installation of new innovations in technology to help employees work from home. Businesses have implemented collaboration tools, migrated on-premise infrastructure to the cloud, integrated online platforms and automated processes all in a bid to ensure operations could continue to run seamlessly with a distributed workforce.
With 52% of companies planning to increase their technology spend in 2021, many businesses have already realised the advantages of digital transformation for employees including:
- Seamless collaboration
- Increased productivity
- Better data insights
- Flexibility and agility
- Improved customer service
- Higher profitability
- Enhanced accuracy
- Increased employee engagement
According to a study by Deloitte, digital technologies can accelerate progress towards enterprise goals such as financial returns, workforce diversity, and environmental targets by 22%. So, how can digital transformation enhance the employee experience and what benefits does this bring to your business?
What does digital innovation mean in 2021?
Digital transformation is not a new concept: it’s all that businesses have been talking about since the mid-2000s. Whilst the term “digital transformation” broadly refers to the adoption of digital solutions to transform a business’s service or operations, successful digital transformation is no longer the sole responsibility of your IT department: instead, it requires cultural change across all areas of your business.
From HR to Marketing and Operations to Finance, your teams will have a variety of processes, tooling and platforms that they engage with on a daily basis. Digital transformation requires us to constantly challenge the capabilities of our technology, question processes and explore ways of optimising our infrastructure. It’s not enough to ‘set and forget’ instead businesses should be reviewing the efficiency, value and quality of their IT applications regularly.
How can businesses ensure digital transformation projects are successful?
A large proportion of digital transformation projects are unsuccessful – up to 70% of technology projects fail to deliver their desired results. Many organisations underestimate the level of planning and preparation required to ensure that both the organisation’s infrastructure and culture are ready to accept change.
However, strategic IT projects are back at the top of the CIOs agenda in 2021. For digital transformation to be successful, businesses must ensure they implement innovative, digital solutions that add value, offer a return on investment (ROI) and improve the business’s overall performance.
Three ways that businesses can achieve this is by:
Aligning the digital transformation strategy with business objectives
One of the primary factors hindering digital transformation is a failure to align the selection of IT infrastructure or software with the wider business strategy.
Before implementing any new technology, businesses should take a holistic view of the current infrastructure. They will need to understand what processes, data and systems are in place and how information flows throughout the business. Any IT investment should consider the end-user experience and future growth of the business.
If you spend the time getting your digital transformation strategy right up front, you’ll have a greater chance of success.
Appoint digital transformation champions
In order to build a culture that accepts digital transformation, your business must constantly challenge the status quo and look for improvements. By appointing digital transformation evangelists who champion innovation and encourage employees to share their pain points, your business will be able to root out inefficiencies and implement digital solutions that solve specific problems.
Communicating the value of digital transformation to the wider business
Sometimes, digital transformation fails simply because the wider business is not aware that it is happening. Many businesses find that even well-planned projects meet significant resistance to change which can lead to poor user adoption.
Business leaders need to articulate why they are undertaking the digital transformation process and take the time to ‘market’ the benefits of the new system, rather than simply focusing on project execution. When users understand why the new technology is being implemented, how it will benefit them and have been trained to use it effectively, they are more likely to actually use it.
8 benefits of digital transformation for employees
Whilst there is no doubt that digital transformation is necessary to improve the customer experience, businesses that invest in technology to empower their workforce often see a vast improvement in employee engagement and business performance.
Here are the top 8 benefits of digital transformation for employees.
Over half (54%) UK employees feel they can be just as collaborative working from home as they can in the office. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that technology has the power to keep us connected even under the most unusual of circumstances.
Many businesses have increased their investment in cloud collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams transforming the way employees share information and communicate with each other. Whilst a return to the office is in sight, the benefits of these platforms will continue to enhance the employee experience, removing the need to travel long distances for meetings and allowing field workers to access company information securely whilst working remotely.
Document collaboration platforms such as SharePoint have also allowed greater transparency. Employees can work simultaneously on documents and easily track changes for better version control.
By digitising business operations, streamlining workflows and improving the flow of information across your business, employee productivity will increase.
A huge part of digital transformation is integrating platforms in order to break down data silos and remove manual processes. According to one study, employees waste 1.8 hours every day searching and gathering information. With the right tools in place, employees would become more efficient and have time to focus on more strategic tasks.
Better Data Insights
Data is king! With the increase in online services, businesses are collecting more customer data than ever before. But what’s the purpose of having it if your employees can’t use it?
Many organisations are now introducing analytics tools to help them gain powerful insights that guide intelligent business decisions. A study by The Boston Consulting Group showed that companies at the forefront of using big data generate 12% more income than those who don’t.
By structuring your data and giving employees the ability to analyse it quickly, your business will benefit from greater transparency and informed decision making, allowing you to achieve your goals faster.
Flexibility and Agility
Another benefit of digital transformation for employees is flexibility. With 81% of enterprises hosting at least one application or a segment of their computing infrastructure in the cloud, employees can now access the files and systems they need from anywhere. As a result employee work-life balance has improved as they are no longer chained to the office and traditional working hours.
It has also given businesses the freedom to hire talent from further afield, as employees are not required to be in the office to work effectively.
Improved Customer Service
No employee likes dealing with unsatisfied customers. By giving employees the tools to respond quickly and by automating elements of the customer journey, both the employee and customer experience will improve. What’s more, by streamlining customer interactions the service is more likely to feel consistent.
Whilst nothing beats human interaction, by introducing elements of automation and client self-service, employees will have more time to focus their attention on helping customers who need more in-depth support.
As IT becomes more strategic, digital transformation is expected to deliver measurable ROI. Many businesses are using technology as a competitive differentiator, enabling employees to work smarter and provide better customer service. A business that becomes more profitable as a result of digital transformation is likely to innovate faster and continue to be market leaders.
With 30% of jobs likely to be automated by the mid-2030s, some are worried that digital transformation could lead to the loss of jobs.
However, automation isn’t always a bad thing for employees. One of the key benefits of upgrading systems is that you may be able to automate certain processes, reducing the burden of paperwork, or combine inputs from disparate systems, improving information accessibility. By automating basic processes, employees can also remove any chance of human error and be confident that they are providing a consistent and accurate service.
Increased Employee Engagement
Digital transformation offers a great opportunity for businesses to upskill their teams. For employees to get the most from new technology it is important that they are engaged throughout the implementation process, and are sufficiently trained to use it. By investing in employee development, they are likely to feel more motivated and valued by the business, leading to higher employee retention rates.