The Covid-19 lockdown measures have changed the mindset of many businesses across the UK. Those that were hesitant before have now recognised the benefits, such as increased productivity. However, while some of the teething problems still remain about remote working during lockdown, most companies and organisations saw this as the only possible way to continue to operate safely and, most companies were able to do so efficiently and quickly.
The digital transformation has now shifted away from the office and into employees homes as the government continues to announce local lockdowns and changes, often with little warning. This suggests businesses that can transform arguably must transform to survive.
With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the transformation to a remote working future and the essential aspects to get right.
Key Players in Digital Transformation
To accomplish a robust digital transformation, the key players must unite. It isn’t solely an infrastructure issue but a holistic one. All stakeholders must play their part, respond to customer feedback and ensure data security, CX & EX and public health are all taken into consideration.
While teams can collaborate well remotely, it is imperative to have someone speaking for the business to guide projects and steer the vision. As such, communication between senior organisational management becomes of paramount importance and represents a significant challenge to overcome.
Although we have seen high redundancy rates, a digital transformation is far-reaching in terms of employment. Soft, as well as technical skills, make an operation run efficiently. This includes AI coders, digital trainers, UX designers, database programmers, security specialists, and customer specialists to name but a few. For many businesses, digital transformation is a profound change.
Chief Information Officer (CIO)
Responsible for the overall strategy, infrastructure and implementation, agile IT teams are under pressure not just to implement a robust system that can handle remote working and other digital transformation features, but to implement changes as and when required. Many challenges we face are new and unpredictable which keeps the CIO and all that report to them on their toes… and the pandemic is no exception.
The CIO must strategise and coordinate with the various IT specialists to provide a resilient network to support remote working. This is not just about security but to ensure that every home-based employee has access to the technology required to do their job. This is no small undertaking and there is little room for error.
Chief Commercial Officer (CCO)
Responsible for developing commercial strategy, many British CCOs found they have to think on their feet to keep pace with demanding change. Across industries, many face the challenge of making customers feel safe to continue trading. This is a particular challenge to those with customer-facing premises.
Moreover, often an IT transition is a resolution as businesses shift to selling online. At the start of the lockdown, companies rushed to get online portals up and running. Now, the dust has settled, many businesses are currently developing commercial strategies to make this a permanent, and arguably fundamental, part of their business infrastructure. As such, CCO’s are focused on achieving a high-quality digital experience for customers, a significant factor to the digital transformation strategy.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
The CEO’s role is to ensure that the executive suite remains on track with the rollout. A CEO should work closely with both the CIO and the CCO to ensure both strategies intertwine in the digital transformation. Digital Transformations tend to fail however, if a CEO performs well, the chances of success increase considerably.
It seems that Covid-19 has created winners and losers within the technology scene. CEO’s that overnight found themselves head of an organisation that was once a healthy enterprise but no longer, have focused and indeed bet it all on the digital shift to keep the business afloat. Conversely, those that saw an increase in business aren’t under the close scrutiny.
Nonetheless, the need for digital transformation has become significant to remain competitive. In the words of the Amazon leader, Jeff Bezos, “There is no alternative to digital transformation. Visionary companies will carve out new strategic options for themselves – those that don’t adapt, will fail.”
The Mindset for Digital Transformation
An important aspect to cultivate for a successful digital transformation is the right mindset. This should apply at all levels of an organisation. According to Finder.com, most employees are saving an average of £44 per week on travel and food costs and two-thirds state they were more productive when working from home. Around one in four want to work from home after getting a taste for it during the lockdown. This suggests a stronger desire for work-life balance.
As such, businesses can build on the positives. Employees with correct equipment to do their job will look on the situation more favourably than those that make do. If employees have to wait for an underperforming laptop to get access to the system, you risk losing morale. Some employees reported they had to use their own devices to work and consequently, the GDPR implications are potentially severe.
To maintain productivity, employees need robust infrastructure. From an executive point of view, the c-suite should know how they are going to fit into the transformation. The shift will impact every aspect of the organisation and demand changes in how various departments operate. As such, clear communication and input must flow from each executive and department. Both the CIO and CCO should work closely with the c-suite to ensure strategies and rollout marry together.
Ideally, even with the uncertainties of Covid-19, businesses should look to grow, and this feature should be part of a digital transformation with strategies that are agile by design, allowing for expansion with minimal disruption.
Innovation takes many forms such as the interactive dynamic of people working together, bouncing ideas and discussing how to make the impossible, possible. This is somewhat lost by home working. However, research suggests platforms such as Zoom or Skype can replicate the dynamic between people to enable innovation. Ensuring innovation is still present will take creativity and imaginative thinking. Ultimately, it will be down to the organisation to develop ways of stimulating innovation among teams.
Digital transformation is now vital to any business that wants to survive. The transition will depend on the quality of strategy from both an IT infrastructure and customer experience viewpoints. Communication must be free-flowing, clear, with each stakeholder understanding their role and how they fit into the overall transformation.
Taking a long term view allowing for growth is key to the longevity of the digital transformation. Many failures cite that the thinking was too ‘right now’, and not looking to the future. Challenges will be both infrastructure and customer and client-based, and organisations must acknowledge this and work accordingly.
If a business can make a successful transition that is satisfactory to its customers and clients, meeting expectations, then come what may, that business can expect a golden future.