According to a December 30, 2021 Benefit News article on workplace trends, digital transformation will help mitigate the Great Resignation. Employees want to feel invested in their jobs and colleagues. They want to know that despite working remotely, their organizations are committed to helping them stay connected, both culturally and digitally.
Unfortunately, there are still too many organizations that have not prioritized digital transformation. According to a Finances Online report, 70 percent of organizations have a digital transformation strategy or are working on one. However, while 55 percent of startups have already adopted a digital business strategy, among traditional organizations just 38 percent have adopted a digital transformation strategy, according to the same report. The necessity to evolve digitally was apparent prior to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic but the pandemic pushed it to a new level of urgency.
Those organizations that were ahead of the digital transformation curve fared better during the pandemic, according to a 2020 McKinsey report. The report found that these companies were able to react 20 to 25 times faster than prior to the pandemic, and 40 times more quickly regarding remote work setups. These same companies noted that pre-pandemic, it would have taken over 12 months to implement a remote work scenario as opposed to 11 days for those who had already implemented a digital transformation program.
Three Causes of Pervasive Workplace Friction
Today’s business processes, organizational goals, and the ability to remain competitive in the marketplace rely on a digital transformation strategy. Cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) continue to influence how we do business. The Finances Online report referenced a 2020 Deloitte survey that noted 39 percent of CEOs made digital transformation the top priority for their CIOs. A McKinsey 2020 survey noted 45 percent of companies that saw revenues decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic were going to place greater emphasis on their digital transformation efforts.
Decline in revenue is just one aspect of the digital transformation lag. 451 Research highlighted just how crucial digitization is to the future of work in their study, “Voice of the Enterprise: Workforce Productivity & Collaboration, Employee Lifecycle & HR 2021”. Consider three causes of pervasive workplace friction and how digital transformation can resolve them:
- Reduced employee productivity and engagement: Our siloed work environments have created disconnects between the employee and their organizations. Many have experienced imbalances in their personal and professional lives as well as burnout. Lack of face time with managers and other colleagues can reduce collaboration and impede learning and career development opportunities. These issues leave workers feeling unmotivated and unproductive. This sheds light on the importance of ensuring that employees are connected and engaged in their work, and ultimately, productive. Investing in digital employee experience (DEX) improvements can mitigate these issues. In fact, the 451 Research study indicated that improving employee productivity and engagement was the number one IT-led transformation priority among surveyed organizations. More interesting is the fact that 35% of employees surveyed revealed that they would move to another company if the only advantage to doing so was more accessible and effective workforce technologies. DEX is a particular priority for executive and divisional leaders and transformation teams since this area has a profound impact on talent acquisition and retention. It also affects an organization’s work policies, processes, and technologies, which then influence their agility as well as their employee experience strategies.
- Legacy, siloed, and niche software as a service (SaaS) tools. Many organizations were not set up to collaborate remotely. Most relied heavily on a physical presence to communicate and connect. In our new hybrid workplace, bandwidth and latency issues abound due to legacy and siloed technologies including niche SaaS. As a result, broader business goals such as talent retention and customer engagement as well as stronger organizational culture and agility remain stagnant or worse, deteriorate. Organizations can overcome these obstacles with more analytical methods to identify user spikes and downtimes, productivity, and bandwidth trends. Doing so optimizes their digital experiences and enables IT departments to perform diagnostics proactively and effectively, while meeting compliance requirements. Consistency is essential to this process, especially since organizations are dealing with disparate networks and locations in the new hybrid workplace. Digital transformation can facilitate it, keeping workers connected and enhancing their ability to collaborate. The move to the cloud alleviates the financial and time burden involved in implementing hardware, enabling organizations to continuously and cost-effectively monitor performance and upgrade SaaS applications that support the individual user’s experience proactively and in real time.
- Customer and supply chain issues. Supply chain issues have been another result of the pandemic. Customers require more responsive interaction and faster remediation from vendors and their organizations. When digital transformation is non-existent, an organization cannot pivot quickly to handle a crisis. Recognizing these factors, many companies accelerated their adoption of digital technologies for customer and supply-chain interactions by three to four years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the 2020 McKinsey report. The 451 Research report found that organizations are more committed than ever to improving the customer experience with more effective digitization. For instance, monitoring tools ensure that employees stay connected and that outages are reduced. Productivity tools and platforms foster greater collaboration and engagement, which in turn enhance the customer experience and help to reduce supply chain issues. Tools and platforms that include more granular analytics enable customer service to pinpoint issues quickly and reduce the number of help desk tickets generated. All contribute to a more robust workflow, greater productivity, and higher customer satisfaction.
Insights from McKinsey confirm the importance of transforming business digitally as we move towards 2023. Their survey revealed that nine in 10 respondents believed that their business model needed to change. It also indicated that 64 percent said their organizations needed to build a digital business that extends to all facets of the business to remain fiscally viable. Digital transformation including building better employee engagement, effective monitoring, a satisfactory customer experience, increased productivity, and the ability to pivot are key to eliminating pervasive friction and remaining a competitive presence in the marketplace.
Over time, the type of analytics that take on importance may change but the need for a data-driven approach to identifying and addressing people and productivity will remain. The more efficiently organizations can pool their data to increase engagement, collaboration, the customer experience, and productivity, the more prepared they’ll be for changes and challenges in the future.
As organizations get more comfortable with digital transformation, they’ll become more adept at drilling down to the root causes of friction and developing tools to drive productivity. Consequently, they will be better positioned to pre-emptively circumvent friction. It will require more integration and monitoring capabilities within the workplace. However, it will lead to greater collaboration across the organization’s spectrum including human resources and operations. The result will be a level of engagement, productivity, compliance, and agility better equipping organizations to overcome pervasive frictions and thrive regardless of what arises.
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