Which Business Culture Best Supports Digital Transformation?
There is more to a digital transformation than simply purchasing and implementing new technology. To succeed, a company’s employees must “buy in” to the transformation, and remain willing to adopt new practices. Regardless of IT and executive leadership, without business-wide support for implemented technological advancements, businesses will remain unable to maximize their return on investment.
Cultural Obstacles to Digital Transformation
Company culture has become a focus for the rising millennial workforce, playing a pivotal role in hiring, employee retention, and day-to-day operations. To merge with older, more established employees, technology has risen as the facilitator of collaboration. With adequate training, all generations are well equipped to successfully collaborate, which boosts productivity and overall sentiment regarding culture. With such a focus placed on workplace ethos, it’s no surprise that culture is integral to the process of digital transformation. However, these two factors can appear at odds when:
- Employees are subjected to slow or stalled decision making
- There isn’t a clearly articulated benefit of the transformation
- Too much focus is placed on technological improvement
- There is a lack of understanding over operational issues
- Staff members experience a fear of losing control, or are otherwise resistant to change
Learn more about other potential obstacles here.
Steps for Improving Culture for Digital Transformation
To help combat these challenges, leadership can take proactive steps to inspire and enable their organization. While all solutions may not be applicable to your business, it is important to consider their implications throughout the transformation process.
Purpose Behind Everything: Studies have shown that the workforce, specifically millennials, are most motivated by the perceived purpose of their work. Definitive purpose will also motivate other generations in the workplace as it creates set goals and unities the ideology of the office. Some organizations may also face resistance from more seasoned employees because the technology is new and unfamiliar. Communicating the purpose and goals of your organization’s digital transformation initiatives will improve the adoption rate for all generations and, therefore, the efficiency of the transformation.
Rid Your Business of Internal Politics: Internal politics are inevitable within an established professional hierarchy. Unfortunately, this can result in competing or misaligned priorities when it comes to transformation goals, which will ultimately stall progress. These political roadblocks are often evident to the rest of the organization and can weaken enthusiasm. Since clear, aligned goals are essential to forward momentum of any digital transformation, it is best to minimize internal politics as much as possible.
Don’t Micromanage: Depending on personal preference, micromanaging can be a big issue for some employees. Especially when adopting new technologies in day-to-day work, it is important for managers to give employees the tools and educational resources they need, but avoid micromanaging during the learning process.
Give Employees Freedom to Experiment: To foster a culture of willing adoption, it is important for employees to determine how new technological resources will best fit their work needs. Giving employees room to experiment with new technology is an important step in building comfort with these tools, and will improve long-term engagement.
How Leadership Can Enable a Transformation-ready Culture:
Open Communication and Transparency: Communication and transparency are the key to any successful company culture, as it emboldens a sense of trust and inclusion in the workplace. Clear communication should be the first priority when assessing company culture, prior to a digital transformation. Any major changes in business operations can be daunting. Without effective communication, employees remain uninformed, potentially creating an environment of discontent and needless uncertainty.
Clear Mission and Defined Goals: Before implementing new technologies, upper management should set a defined mission and measurable goals, to properly guide the progress of their transformation. This set strategy helps align employee expectations, while informing them of the transformation’s purpose.
Culture of Collaboration: One of the largest benefits of a digital transformation is the ability for employees to communicate and collaborate anytime, anywhere. Creating a culture that encourages the use of this new technology not only maximizes the transformation’s returns, but also advances the company in a more productive, efficient direction.
Champions for Change: Many business leaders assume that a Chief Digital Officer or Chief Information Officer would be the most effective leader of a given technological initiative. However, studies have shown that this may not prove true. It is important to find someone in the organization to serve as a role model, championing new products to drive change. According to a recent Forbes article, most companies find success when the Chief Marketing Officer serves as this role model because their focus is on people and messaging first, technology second.
Data-Driven Decision Making: Data is an organization’s greatest asset in this era of digital transformation, so it is important to foster a culture that supports data-driven decision making to fully maximize your transformation’s ROI. Organizations are using data intelligence platforms to improve processes, gain insight into particular pain points, make smarter decisions with their sales and marketing dollars, connect with customers better and define measurable business outcomes for new initiatives.
Company culture may seem like an added perk to businesses that do it well, but it is actually the backbone of an organization, influencing morale, collaboration, and compliance with upper management’s decisions. To fully benefit from their digital transformation, businesses should strive for a culture of excitement around change, while fostering an environment of educated, collaborative, and mobile employees.
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