The sweet spot between tech and people: why a human approach is key to making digital transformation work

Jul 02, 2024

Given the rapid developments in daily life, digital transformation is a must for every company to remain competitive and relevant. But here’s the catch: success isn’t just about using the latest and greatest technology. It’s about putting people at the heart of your transformation, making use of the skills only humans have to offer. Here are seven human aspects that are crucial to building a successful digital transformation journey.

1. Getting everyone on board with a change-ready environment

Digital transformation isn’t just about the new gadgets for your organization; it’s a shift in how we do things. Employees need to be on board, ready to adopt new ways of working, and adjust to new organizational structures and business models. Creating a culture that’s open to change is vital in this. Without it, even the coolest tech can’t do its job. You need leaders who get both the business side and the tech side. This means having a clear vision, getting everyone on board, and making sure digital changes match what the company needs to achieve to stay relevant:

  • Communicate vision and progress clearly: Regularly update employees on goals and progress.
  • Involve everyone: Get feedback from all levels and incorporate their ideas.
  • Celebrate wins: Acknowledge and reward milestones.
  • Lead by example: Leaders should actively participate in digital initiatives and demonstrate commitment.
  • Provide support systems: Offer help desks and peer support to assist employees in adapting to new changes.

2. Building the right skills

When your organization rolls out new tools and systems, it creates a need for learning, upskilling and maybe even cross-skilling. It’s up to the people in your organization to pick up these new skills, go through training, and use what they learn to make these tools work for them. But it is up to leadership to invest in people’s skills and empowering them and making sure your people have the possibilities to develop. It pays off big time:

  • Provide training programs: Offer workshops, online courses, and certifications.
  • Create mentorship opportunities: Pair less experienced employees with tech-savvy mentors.
  • Encourage continuous learning: Foster a culture where you value and support ongoing education.

3. Creating an innovation culture

Creating an innovation culture is about more than just embracing new technologies; it’s about changing the way your organization thinks and works. By fostering a digital mindset and promoting collaboration and teamwork, you can create an environment where digital transformation can truly thrive. Embracing a people-focus not only enhances the effectiveness of your digital initiatives but also lays the groundwork for long-term success and adaptability:

  • Host innovation workshops: Encourage brainstorming sessions and hackathons.
  • Reward creative solutions: Recognize employees who come up with innovative ideas.
  • Foster a safe environment for ideas: Welcome and consider all ideas.
  • Foster a digital mindset: Encourage a culture that values innovation, agility, and continuous improvement, starting with leadership and leading by example.

4. Focusing on customer-centric innovation

Digital change often aims to make things better for customers. Understanding what customers want and need takes empathy and understanding qualities that people bring to the table. Employees who talk to customers daily give crucial feedback that shapes how tech serves them better:

  • Gather customer feedback: Use surveys and direct interactions.
  • Train employees in customer empathy: Provide training on active listening and empathy.
  • Implement customer-centric strategies: Use feedback to shape digital initiatives.

5. Ethical and responsible transformation

In the rush to embrace digital transformation, it's crucial for your organization to remember the responsibility to act ethically and sustainably. Technology brings significant positive changes, but it also raises important ethical concerns you need to take into account:

  • Address ethical concerns: Ensure data privacy and manage job displacement.
  • Promote digital inclusivity: Make tools user-friendly and improve digital literacy.
  • Sustainable change: Encourage socially responsible practices.

6. Together we achieve more

Digital change works best when everyone’s on the same page. That means breaking down walls between teams and making sure everyone talks and listens. Human teamwork turns digital tools into real results:

  • Foster cross-department collaboration: Use tools and practices that encourage interdepartmental teamwork and communication.
  • Regular check-ins: Schedule regular meetings to align on goals and progress.
  • Encourage innovation and creativity: Create a supportive environment that encourages experimentation and innovation.

7. Ensuring long-term success

For digital transformation to be truly effective, it must be sustainable over the long term. This requires a deep commitment from your organization, adaptability to future changes, and a continuous improvement mindset:

  • Foster a growth mindset: Encourage learning and promote personal development.
  • Empower employees: Give teams autonomy and support mental health.
  • Engage in continuous improvement: Create feedback mechanisms and host innovation days.
  • Implement an iterative approach: Use pilot programs to test initiatives and celebrate small wins.

Want to know more?

So people do make all the difference. Technology might be the engine, but people fuel the journey of digital transformation. Organizations that see the value in their people—by training them up, getting them involved, and treating them right—are the ones who get the most from their digital efforts. So, if you’re gearing up for your digital transformation journey, how are you going to support and inspire your organization in this journey towards innovation and growth?