Managing Human Dimensions Of Organizational Digital Transformation

by Jasmine Gorimar, Head of IT- Information Protection and Security, Boehringer Ingelheim India

Organisational Digital Transformation involves business activities, processes, competencies and model transformations that have a fundamental objective to leverage opportunities of new and emerging digital landscape to be able to harvest their impact in a strategic and prioritized way. 

Most businesses are themselves realigning their strategies towards a more customer-centric approach, going beyond silos and having a genuine 360° view on their own organization, customers and ecosystem. In order to do so, it is required to architect a digital landscape for your company that connects different divisions, stakeholders, goals, processes and information resources- thereby making the human aspect even more important. One of the fundamental reasons Digital Transformation projects fail is their lack of attention towards the essential human component.

Personality Aspects of a Digital Transformation Leader

Following personality aspects are important to keep in mind while selecting a digital transformation leader for your organisation:

1. Business - IT relationship is critical. IT is no longer just another enabling function. It is the only function that impacts and touches every employee in your organization every day at work.

2. Digital Transformation depicts common industry traits amongst its leadership. The selection committee must realize these personality correlations as Digital transformation shows very similar aspects across industries.

3. The role of a Digital Transformation leader is constantly evolving: Industry evolution linked to customer evolution is the only constant in this Digital change. No one will wait for you to catch up. Your leader is in the race or out.

4. Stakeholder Buy-in: ability requires strong buy-in from all senior and critical stakeholders, both within and outside the organization.

5. Attitude and plan to realize a Customer Centric approach of strategy and execution: The focus on optimization is directly linked to the goals of (customer) experience enhancement and stakeholder engagement. This goes hand-in-hand with process optimization, often automation and cost efficiencies.

A “digital culture” is not the goal of digital transformation but today’s CXOs don’t only need to be digital-savvy but also know what others are doing, their experiences, methods and skill sets.

Elements of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation projects require several elements to succeed. Amongst the human elements, the following related with technology, people and/or processes are the most critical for a CXO and/or a digital leader to address:

1. Digitization of fundamentals is critical. Creation of a journey to evolve your people-process organization through massive digital transformations via a staged approach starting with the fundamentals is one of the reasons why there are so many digital transformation maturity models and generic frameworks in-order to get the right questions that should be asked to address the above – hence derive the right answers. Digital maturity frameworks and benchmarks do have some value in guiding the digital transformation journey.

2. Intent and Prioritization of strategic elements: Organization’s objectives and goals realignment with board of directors and critical stakeholders.

3. People Change Management: Understanding and guiding people-process equations across the organization is usually a top down approach. This is interdependent of a strong communication process and teamwork. It makes people realize the benefits of change. Change is not easy in the people dimension. It is not always practical to realize 100 percent buy throughout the organization. Sometimes ruthless execution of priorities would be required to realize necessary results.

4. Ability to work across silos in the organization: Interconnectedness of roles and responsibilities, creation of shared goals and responsibilities, shared KPIs, etc.

5. Qualification, Quantification and Realization of benefits to all stakeholders via building a strong communication process and incorporation of a feedback channel.

This means that uncertainties, risks and changes are factored into each incremental step and broader objectives. It also means that a digital transformation comes with agile possibilities to change course, thanks to intermediate checks, balances and the ability of continuous improvement or change. 

To understand digital transformation, it’s key to put people and processes above technology, even if technology is a change agent. A CXO needs to understand customer-centricity. A CEO needs to know about many parts of business process reengineering, cybersecurity, IT and more. The “digital culture” is neither start nor essence of digital transformation. It is about responding to the changes that digital technologies have caused and will continue to cause.

In the end, the approach required is one of continuous optimization, holistic improvement and a focus on what people need, that is far beyond just the “digital context”.