Technology Strategy and Innovation

5 key actions to successfully accomplishing a rapid digital transformation

For most companies, digital transformation consists of adapting their processes and adopting digital tools to meet their strategic business objectives. This complex process involves a fundamental shift in corporate culture and changes at every level. In the last few years, as companies have experienced significant upheaval, the need to speed up their digital transformation has become clear.

Transformation happens throughout the company: in sales, operations, finance and human resources. All these departments can gain added value and efficiency by automating time-consuming, repetitive, low value-added tasks to focus on more strategic activities, thereby increasing the company’s market share and speeding up its growth.

The pandemic has forced many companies to adopt digital tools. Two years in, one might assume that they are on top of this process and have made their digital transformation a priority, especially given its many benefits. However, our latest study, conducted in partnership with Léger, shows that only 31% of managers report high technology adoption.

Even today, IT and/or department managers are too often seen as being responsible for digital transformation, which is too seldom part of real, far-reaching change. In fact, implementing new technology leads to comprehensive, company-wide change, which in turn leads to a change in corporate culture.

This article discusses 5 key actions to successfully accomplish a rapid digital transformation.

1. Foster an innovation-friendly culture

Technology should help your organization evolve and become even better at what it does. In the long run, technology should enable you to improve your customers’ experience, launch new or improved products, free up profit margins to expand your market share or come up with a new business model that could revolutionize your industry. But the most important thing is to have an innovation-friendly culture, because the technology can change. As Talsom’s President, Olivier Laquinte, said in Les Affaires, “the important thing is not the destination, but the journey.”

To ensure employees are committed to the change, leaders need to share their vision and regularly reinforce it. Creating all-level committees or working groups and celebrating milestones are useful ways of achieving this goal.

2. Prioritize and develop an investment plan

A digital transformation project can take anywhere from a few months to several years. Caught between the time it takes to achieve full adoption and the increasingly rapid changes in technology and consumer needs, it’s vital that companies have a long-term investment plan to support their transformation. However, our most recent study shows that less than half of the respondent organizations have a digital investment plan.

3. Identify key resources and skills and create a development plan

In its broadest sense, digital transformation raises many questions about the possibility of human beings being replaced by “machines”. If the transformation changes the kind of work, rather than replacing human skills, in most cases it will lead to new ones. More than half (64%) of the managers in our Léger study believe that a lack of skills is hindering their growth. It’s essential that you know what skills are required in order to target the gaps and needs, to carry out your transformation and ensure its long-term sustainability. This enables you to find the most talented people and implement a skills development plan, so they will grow with your company. Given the current labour shortage, especially in Québec, retaining your best employees and identifying transferable skills gives you a competitive advantage.

If the gap between your needs and the skills available is too great, it may be worthwhile to bring in an external partner, whether to fill a one-time specific need – for IT skills, for example – or a more long-term gap, such as finding a partner to guide and support you throughout your transformation.

4. Sharing achievements sustains commitment

If you don’t make lasting changes to team processes and habits, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns. To be sustainable, employees must remain committed to a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, and the company must recognize milestones and reward change-makers.

Talsom’s most recent study shows that most managers say they have sufficient resources to help them use technology. On the other hand, a quarter of employees state that these resources are insufficient. The difference can be explained by the lack of clear and measurable objectives. Communicating concrete improvements and engaging teams in providing suggestions for improvement and feedback creates a concrete, data-driven cycle of continuous improvement.

5. Successfully managing the change

According to our most recent study, only 12% of employees are comfortable with using new technology. Lack of training and insufficient concern for people’s individual needs is a major barrier. It’s rare for IT and HR departments to have any expertise in internal change management, as evidenced by a recent Forbes article, which states that 70% of organizational change initiatives fail. Working with a change management partner ensures better employee uptake, so you’ll get the most out of your investment.

Want to know more about Canadian corporate digital transformation and the challenges it presents?

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Published on 18.02.2022