Culture: The Platform for Digital Transformation

Posted on Thursday, December 21, 2017
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By Dylan Foster-Edwards
Account Chief Technologist at Softcat plc


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More and more organisations are realising that they need to embrace the world of digital possibilities, or risk losing market share. Forward thinking companies are kicking off digital transformation programmes, to ensure that they stay ahead of their competitors and remain relevant in the marketplace. These efforts should be underpinned by an emphasis on changing the culture that drives change; if you get the culture correct, then new technologies are more likely to be adopted and loved by the end user. Of course, the reverse is true – if your users don't embrace change, your efforts may be doomed to failure!

How do we transform culture and stay relevant?

Microsoft believe that as we enter 2018, two thirds of the Global 2000 CEOs will have digital transformation at the heart of their corporate strategy. These organisations have started to look at how they can enable the workplace of today to drive the business of tomorrow.

Of course, most of the fuss around digital transformation focuses on the potential opportunities within AI, machine learning and the Internet of Things. We think there's a less 'bleeding edge' place to start – with the way in which you deliver services to your end users (at least until you replace them all with bots. That's a joke, by the way). Digital transformation needs to be seen as a people exercise, rather than 'just' an IT exercise – it's all about how tech can be successfully adopted and integrated into the workplace. Microsoft has identified five challenges on the path to creating a strong culture from which to build a digital transformation:

Collaboration, not Competition

Digital transformation starts with collaboration, not competition. Users need to understand the collaborative potential of new digital technologies and stop worrying that IT is not suddenly going to replace them and their job. It's through a collaboration of 'man and machine' that adds value to tasks and outcomes.

Managing Fear

Change can be unsettling, and workers can understandably be apprehensive about any change in role, focus or tasks, especially if it involves a technology element that they don't necessarily understand. Try and give them as much clarity as you can and set expectations right from the outset; allow them time and space to experiment with new technology, and let them know that it's ok to get it wrong! Encourage users to communicate and feedback so that the right support is identified.

Showing Value

Users need to be shown the benefit and value of this new technology. If you phase change in over time, then workers can gradually get used to change at their own pace and see the benefits for themselves. Identify individuals or teams who are likely to embrace new technologies  and ask them to lead the way; using ‘digital champions’ will encourage colleagues to adopt the changes and show them value of digital technologies. Your culture will change quicker, and people will adopt tech faster, if it’s a communal effort rather than a top-down communication!

Respecting Your History

Unless you are a startup, you're not likely to be creating a digital strategy entirely from scratch! Whilst clearly there's a drive to be innovative, you've got to fit this into and around what you do today. Every organisation is different, and your digital approach should reflect this. Explain any changes in the context of your particular political, cultural, ethical and stakeholder landscape – and of course the organisation's vision. Help teams to understand how these changes fit into the mission they follow and the work that they do – and give them the confidence to ask for help if they are struggling.

Embracing agility

Finally, Microsoft advocates embracing 'agile' to enable your organisation to keep developing. Technology moves quickly and the ability to have an agile, flexible, forward thinking culture will keep an organisation moving forward. Understanding exactly what motivates colleagues will drive them to be passionate about doing things better and using new technology to achieve their goals.

It's all about the culture change

If you don't embrace change, and encourage a culture of technology adoption over the long term, then the initial interest and excitement will fade and users will fall back into their old ways and habits. Set clear goals to create a shift in culture, demonstrate the benefits, and inspire users to see the advantages of these new technologies and want to use them. Communication is key to building a culture that fully supports digital transformation and encouraging two-way dialogue will open channels to ensure colleagues are getting the support they need. Getting relevant information to the right people in a timely way helps to ensure colleagues feel completely informed and gives ownership of the project to those using the technology day-to-day.

Contact Us

This is a journey that doesn't end, with new tech springing up daily. Here at Softcat we understand that this digital transformation can seem a little overwhelming. If you want help seeing how emerging technologies could be relevant to your organisation, you need guidance in creating a platform to support digital transformation, or you want to explore the digital possibilities conferred by Microsoft's range of online services, contact your Softcat account manager or send a message using the button below and ask for a discussion with one of our technology strategists.

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