Digital transformation: realising the future of your company

Written by: C5 Alliance Posted: 02/10/2019

BL64_C5Alliance_James SolomonDigitally transformed businesses will be able to connect more closely with customers and employees, speed up the pace of innovation and create a more sustainable future for themselves, says James Solomon (pictured), Partner Alliance Manager at C5 Alliance

Digital transformation – it’s a term that’s on almost every board agenda, but what exactly does it mean to you and your business? 

At the very outset, figuring out your business strategy before you invest in anything is critical. Leaders who aim to enhance organisational performance through the use of digital technologies often have a specific tool in mind. But digital transformation should be guided by the broader business strategy. 

The definition of digital transformation has evolved in line with this thinking. Previously solely focused on technology, it now includes all aspects of business, the most important of which include people and culture. 

Digital evangelist Brian Solis has an apt holistic definition: “Digital transformation is the evolving pursuit of innovative and agile business and operational models – fuelled by evolving technologies, processes, analytics and talent – to create new value and experiences for customers, employees, and stakeholders.”

Creating new value and experiences for customers and employees is the most important aspect of digital transformation. Your employees are at the heart of your successful digital transformation journey as technology empowers them to be better at what they do every day. Establishing an innovative culture is essential for effective transformation. 

Your company’s culture, embodied by leadership, is vital in creating the core values and behaviours of employees. This is an important factor in any business, but even more so for one that is digitally transforming; culture is at the centre of everything and can be the most effective driver of success. 

Empower your employees with digital tools 

Empowered employees are generally happier, more engaged and feel a deeper connection to the company they work for. Those who have been given the autonomy and tools they need to do their job successfully perform better.

As a result, customer satisfaction will improve, giving you a competitive advantage. Digital transformation has therefore been a welcome evolution for employees who are benefiting from the many new capabilities that digital tools offer.

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce report, only 15% of employees are engaged in their jobs. So how do we empower our employees and get them engaged?

The starting point to successfully engaging employees during transformation is to ensure that the staff – who have intimate knowledge about what works and what doesn’t in their daily operations – are consulted and that the process of change is not entirely outsourced to external consultants. 

BL64_C5Alliance_illoThe workplace of the future

The workplace of the future is almost here. And in many ways, the future is now. By 2020, millennials (those born between about 1980 and 2000) are forecast to comprise half of the US workforce and, by 2025, 75% of the global workforce. 

Millennials want to work in an environment where they can easily interact with each other and benefit from the ability to work remotely, anywhere and at any time. To do this they need the tools and digital workspaces to communicate, access their data and stay productive. 

Employer expectations are changing too, away from routine tasks towards a way of operating that requires all employees to be more creative and to think critically. 

With directors, CEOs and senior executives citing ‘digital transformation risk’ as their number one concern during 2019, embracing cultural changes and giving employees the tools they need should be done in parallel with ensuring that data is protected. 

The security risks in today’s business environment have advanced dramatically – threats today are complex, they use advanced social engineering and target everyone in an organisation. With a pressure to have an open flow of information to drive productivity and teamwork, it’s therefore more critical than ever to protect your estate. 

Data is the most critical asset for an organisation and the protection of its users and the platforms they rely on should be top priority. At C5 Alliance, we believe that data is our clients’ most valuable asset and our role is to help them protect it from those who will inevitably try to take it. 

Businesses need to consider how their data is stored and backed up as well as compliance with GDPR regulation. By covering all these bases, organisations will minimise the recovery time and impact on their business operations.

Teamwork

The desire for businesses to ‘digitally transform’ is also a response to the dramatic demand for, and increase in, collaboration and teamwork in today’s workplace. Employees are on twice as many internal teams as five years ago. This marks a transition from personal productivity to group productivity. 

According to Microsoft, the amount of time employees spend engaged in ‘collaborative’ work – in meetings, on phone calls or answering emails – has increased by about 50%. Perhaps even more significantly, this kind of work now takes up more than 80% of employees’ time.

This has meant that organisations today are using a myriad of tools to communicate – team chat, email, intranet and other social channels for organisation-wide communications.

The rationale for multiple collaboration tools is that every group and person is unique and has their own functional needs and way they prefer to work. Some will use only email, while others will live primarily in chat.

If an organisation doesn’t have the tools available, then often employees download and use their preferred solution, which poses a significant risk for organisations as shadow IT develops and there’s no way to uniformly manage a user’s access, ensure security or service compliance needs.

Tools such as Microsoft 365 place ‘Teams’ as the hub for collaboration and help meet the diverse needs of employees. Microsoft Teams is a unified communications platform that combines persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage and application integration. ‘Teams’ provides a secure integrated solution, allowing employees to communicate whether in the office or working remotely, from any place and any time. It can be used across any device and can meet the security demands your business requires.

When deciding on what tools your business requires and how best to leverage them, think about the type of work that needs to get done, the type of conversations your teams need to have and how your teams talk to your customers. The real value of teamwork comes to life only when it’s integrated with the tools people use to communicate, create and collaborate.

Reap the rewards of transformation 

People are key to any successful digital transformation initiative. So embrace cultural changes and give employees the tools they need to collaborate, work remotely and be flexible, whilst fully maintaining your security systems. 

Today, every part of the business is subject to new expectations, competitors, channels, threats and opportunities. Every business has the potential to be a digital business. Companies that quickly deliver digitally instrumented products or services, those that reap data from market interactions, and use insights to rapidly optimise their value chain, are gaining a competitive advantage.

Businesses that digitally transform will be able to connect more closely with customers, speed up the pace of innovation and, as a result, claim a greater share of profit in their sectors. 

Today, digitally transformed companies have an edge; tomorrow, only digital businesses will succeed. 

• This advertising feature was first published in the September/October edition of Businesslife magazine


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