One of the most important but most overlooked aspects of digital transformation by enterprises is culture. While some leaders may not think that fostering culture is an essential part of a digital transformation, it can mean the difference between success and failure. Digital transformation should not be viewed as purely a technology project but a transformation of the way the business works as a whole.
Ingrained culture and behaviours that are not addressed as part of a digital transformation can cause the entire project to grind to a halt. This is because culture leads the adoption of new technology. In many cases, winning people over to supporting and using new tools and processes can be more challenging than implementing the tools themselves.
Without the enthusiastic cooperation of the people in the business, lasting change won’t happen and the potential benefits of any newly implemented tools will not be realised, so how can businesses facilitate shifting to a culture that embraces innovation?
1. Top-Down Support
An initiative to digitally transform an enterprise requires top-down support. Although peer-to-peer collaboration and allowing people the freedom to take initiatives themselves are important factors in innovation, in a large enterprise top-down support is needed to cut through issues such as internal politics and clashes between departments that will slow things down.
2. Bottom-Up Enthusiasm
A network of people from all across the global organisation that are passionate and knowledgeable about digital tech can help to drive the adoption of change. While top-down support is essential, influencers that have power outside of the traditional hierarchy can be the biggest drivers of change. Fostering a global community and collaboration across the business can help with the sharing of best practices across the group and help to introduce new ways of working to support the new tools.
3. Managing the Middle
Forces from the top and bottom all converge on the pressurised middle, meaning management. They have to mitigate between strategy coming from above and the ways the people they manage like to work – while continuing to deliver on time. These people need the right support and to buy into the value of the digital transformation for it to work. Their top priority is delivering, so if you can prove that digital will allow them to do this more efficiently, effectively, at a lower cost or reduced risk, they are more likely to actively want to drive digital transformation and encourage the adoption of new technologies.
4. A Closer Relationship Between Business and IT
Digital transformation isn’t all about technology. Business and technology need to be closely aligned for the transformation to be a success. If the end users of new tools do not see the business benefit of using them then there will be very low adoption and the transformation will not be a success.
Technology and the executives behind the change need to help the business understand what digital transformation would mean and what customer opportunities would be opened up to ensure buy-in. Education and knowledge sharing are essential for this. A well thought out communications strategy is an evolving journey of awareness about the benefits of digital transformation that needs to be carefully paced and scaled.