Digital transformation is not a phenomenon. It’s a continuous process that’s constantly driven and accelerated by the innovations and breakthroughs in technology that revolutionize people’s lives, businesses, industries, markets, and beyond.
While the transformation quietly yet surely developed in the background and made significant yet gradual changes, the pandemic changed everything. Suddenly, the changes weren’t gradual anymore. They became sweeping, necessary, even vital to proper functioning and survival.
For the companies that hadn’t even considered going fully digital and undergoing such large-scale changes were left with no choice but to convert and take action. Those who initiated the process earlier and were undergoing the transformation one step at the time had to lean in completely and embrace it in full. And those who successfully completed the transformation journey happened to also have the necessary tools to survive and even thrive during the global health crisis.
As digital transformation becomes a requirement for success in the newly digitized and virtual world, it’s important to understand that it’s not an easy process — especially with the pressing timeline that these unprecedented times have imposed on many businesses globally. And while taking the transformation one step at a time is not an option anymore, there are a few things that businesses can consider in order to ensure a smooth transition and a strong competitive advantage in the future.
The truth is, there are many questions that affect how a company embarks on the digital transformation journey. Where does the company stand? How digitized is it already? How did the pandemic affect it in the first place? What are the viable resources currently at hand?
But most importantly, how do the employees feel about the digital transformation?
1. Focus on how the technology will bring the company back together, not what the technology is.
With the pandemic scattering the majority of the workforce across the globe, no one’s regular working day looks the same anymore.
There are no offices that bring coworkers together for productive brainstorming sessions, conference meetings, and even casual lunch breaks where employees exercise productivity, communicate at all times, and simply enjoy each other’s presence. So the new challenge the companies face — and an issue they should seek to solve through transformation — is to make sure that it brings the workforce back together, no matter where they are on the map.
The pandemic has been calamitous in how it has isolated people and damaged their morale significantly. For companies who have also suffered the blow, the key to a successful future in this dire climate is to ensure a transition to the virtual reality of existence of operation as seamlessly as possible, promising employees remote opportunities to feel secure and connected when practicing distancing in their shelters.
Technology can be the answer to streamlined workflow and high employee morale even at a distance and across time zones. A good strategy is to consider easily deployable platforms such as Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other workspace and social solutions that will keep the conversation going as naturally as possible even in the digital realm and even open new doors for future workforce planning as the world overcomes the global crisis.
2. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Yes, the pandemic has certainly sped up the pace of digital transformation, complicating the transition at its core. But this current acceleration doesn’t mean that the transformation journey is a sprint with start and finish lines — it’s simply a sped-up sequence of steps that allow for planning a successful future for the business that will be resilient enough to bravely face changes that the future holds.
And if there is anything constant in life, it is change.
The point is, digital transformation is not simply a challenge to overcome and call it a day. Instead, companies need to adopt the mentality that, just as innovations happen continuously and quickly, the same applies to the transformation process: the more solutions are created, the more there is need for companies to shift and adapt to the changing pace of innovation.
The key lesson here is that digital transformation is the perfect opportunity for companies to develop agility and topple the “reign” of more traditional, hierarchical business structures and operations in order to move to the leadership positions on the market. With digital communication thriving, employees gain a unique voice on platforms. With the pandemic essentially connecting people from their own homes and uniting them in the struggle against a global crisis and against failure at work, there is an element of intimacy, decentralization, and even informality added to how businesses — and the world in general — operate.
3. Consider the doors that digital transformation opens.
If digital transformation sounds overwhelming and even impossible, a good way to project into the future is to recognize the possibilities that come with the globalization and “blurring of boundaries” that comes with the change.
For one, the fact that digital transformation is leading to accelerated globalization — and with the physical borders and distance losing their weight — means that companies can now expand their hiring practices and consider professionals who could be the best on a global scale, not just local.
With the employees not having to travel or be physically present in an office to contribute to the company’s goal, businesses will be able to build resourceful, diverse teams that will bring in unique perspectives based on their various backgrounds and experiences, propelling the company towards not just local growth, but also global scaling.
Yes, digital transformation is currently a reality that a lot of businesses need to consider if they want to stay afloat, let alone gain a competitive advantage.
But the right way to look at it is the following: it’s a necessary challenge that has accelerated the world towards embracing the inevitable — a new, innovation-driven world that can be achieved by embracing change.
Written By: Gary Fowler, Co-Founder & CEO of GSDVS