Successful digital transformation is about change, not technology
Changing demographics and ever-tightening financial constraints - the public sector is under enormous pressure to become more agile and efficient.
To respond to these social and fiscal challenges, organisations need more than just new technologies—they need to inspire, instil and implement transformation inside and out. We asked our customers and colleagues to share their top tips for success. Here’s what they said.
1. Define digital change
“Nothing should be off the table, digital can radically transform the way we operate.”
In our experience, there’s always one common theme behind successful transformation: a clear view of where you want to get to and what you want to achieve along the way.
For CIOs, transformation is a no-brainer. However, it’s crucial to ask what digital means for everyone else in the organisation.
Many staff—sometimes even other C-level executives—perceive digital transformation as little more than changing paper-based documents into electronic files. As such, they miss the real opportunities digital can unleash.
By taking the time to establish a clear vision for the future, CIOs can educate everyone involved on what needs to change and why. With a compelling vision that inspires people to take action, organisations are much more likely to stay focused on the right goals and drive successful transformation.
2. Develop a detailed strategy
“We have a clear vision of where we are and where we want to be, but [the] journey between the two is difficult.”
It’s easy to be caught up in the huge potential of new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation or the Internet of Things, but don’t invest blindly. When it comes to digital transformation, the goal isn’t digital technology - it’s transformation: enabling staff, services and operations to become more efficient and effective. The value comes from doing things differently, technology just makes that possible.
To that end, it’s essential to develop a detailed transformation strategy. Consider how prepared the organisation is for change. Engage with senior leaders, staff, customers and partners to understand their needs. Assess the new skills needed to capitalise on fresh technologies. Discuss how change will be implemented—outlining priorities, milestones, investments and predicted gains. All these factors and more will help shape your strategy and flesh out your approach.
3. Lead from the top
“It’s important for leaders to listen and reflect on what’s different now…historic experiences shouldn’t necessarily inform what they want to do in the future.”
Even the most detailed transformation strategy will fail without crucial buy-in from senior executives. Change needs to be led from the top, then cascaded down to everyone else in the organisation. Indeed, digital transformation is five times more likely to succeed when CEOs communicate a compelling, high-level change story that’s both tangible and digestible.
The best way to achieve buy-in from senior leaders is to encourage their involvement from the outset: meet with them regularly to demonstrate the benefits of change, highlight positive feedback and be as responsive to their input and ideas as possible.
Remember that transformation is a journey, not a destination. Digital change usually happens gradually to avoid any negative impact on the organisation—often taking years, rather than weeks and months. As a result, leaders need to be in it for the long-haul, firmly pledging the time, money and resources needed to transform operations.
If at any point senior leaders start to waver in their commitment to change, halt transformation projects immediately and reconnect with them to eliminate any confusion and ensure you’re still on the same page.
4. Keep communicating.
“It’s essential that everyone understands the overall plan, what each project contributes, as well as their role in delivering it’
To manage transformation most effectively, digital projects should be overseen centrally by the IT department. This ensures resources are used efficiently—avoiding any overlap, interference or competition between projects, as well as minimising the chance of ‘standalone’ initiatives being hatched in different departments.
However, IT can be seen as isolated from the wider organisation when driving digital change. That’s why investment in effective communication is a vital part of any transformation programme.
This works best where communications are embedded within the business change function. With a myriad of channels and tools in today’s communications tool box, there are so many ways to connect with stakeholders and engage everyone in the transformation. But remember that transformation is about people and some of the best communications are also the simplest: the CIO or project leaders should regularly tour the organisation, checking in with managers, employees and end-users face-to-face.
With clear and effective communication, everyone will be able to understand what’s happening, why and how they can help. Showing why change is relevant and beneficial to each and every person is a sure fire way to set digital transformation up for success.