Some thoughts on the impact of digitalisation in the workplace

My thanks to Elena Dailly for reaching out on this interesting topic.

I’ll attempt to answer the questions as succinctly as possible. This is a big topic and there’s a lot to unpack. If you’re interested to discuss further, please PM me. It’s always good to talk.  

When digital transformations are performed successfully, the roles of those who are part of the “new normal” have significant enrichment potential in the following ways:

  1. Closer client relationships. They work closer with their customers through regular challenge and opportunity identification, ideation and co-creation.
  2. Work enrichment. They add value in small, dynamic cross-silo teams on creating a product, service or experience. This dynamic team set-up (sometimes referred to as fluid teams) becomes the norm as part of imbedding a growth mindset.
  3. Re-skilling & Up-skilling. The dynamic nature of working on (multiple) new initiatives provides up-skilling opportunities and an understanding for other roles across different fluid teams. This can be further supported by dedicated workshops and training.
  4. Skill & experience retention. Replacing team members with new hires is a venture most HR departments will want to avoid due to cost (up to 3 – 4 times the new hires salary), knowledge retention, and interim loss in productivity. Removing those who are classified as “resistant to change” will not guarantee that the replacements fare any better if their concerns are systemic.

A well-planned, communicated and executed digital transformation with an executive “evangelist” driving it forward has the potential to provide significant opportunities across the board.

You may have noted that I’ve been referring to digital transformation up until now. In sharp contrast, digitalisation (which you referred to in your question) and digitisation are not designed with imbedding a new culture as part of a fluid, digital-ready organisation at their core.

Although definitions of both vary (even amongst digital experts), for simplicity let’s assume digitisation is the automating of a traditionally manual process using technology or other digital tools. The savings provided through automation rarely create any real job enrichment or help a company develop the culture needed to address an ever-changing market landscape.

Similarly, let’s assume digitalisation is commonly referred to as exploiting new opportunities to create a product (e.g. technology, working practices, market and socio-economic or political opportunities). Such initiatives are commonly confused with digital transformation and it’s easy to spot the difference. If your digital initiative has no supporting data strategy or cultural change (or at least due diligence to assess their maturity and future-fit), it’s probably a digitisation or digitalisation venture.

In conclusion, I would argue that the organisational impact of digital initiatives have less to do with which generation we belong to or how tech-savvy we are. The determining factors include the type of digital initiative(s) being implemented, the supporting data strategy and culture change, our personal ability and willingness to transform from a fixed mindset to growth mindset, and embracing opportunities to build stronger relationships with clients through better products, services and experiences.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it…? But if it’s that easy, why do only 13% of all companies succeed in their digital transformations? There are some clues here, but I hope to provide a more comprehensive response in the coming weeks by looking at specific systemic topics that can positively impact the success of your digital transformation.