What’s the key to successful digital transformations?

Communication is the key to successful digital transformation, and according to a new study, most organizations fail to communicate effectively
4 September 2018 | 17 Shares

To drive digital transformation projects, leaders must communicate effectively. Source: Shutterstock

By definition, digital transformation projects overhaul some or all aspects of your company’s digital infrastructure.

Often, it’s a project that’s split up into multiple phases and requires the input, collaboration, and support of multiple teams to be successful. However, there are two things that distinguish great digital transformation projects from the rest: Leadership and communication.

Given the fact that digital transformation projects are designed to bring about efficiencies, they are also bound to bring about challenges — which can be resolved quickly when there’s adequate influence from senior leaders — provided things are communicated correctly.

According to a new survey, poor top-down communication and a lack of transformation leadership are significant problems that inhibit progress towards transformation.

In fact, responses to the survey suggest that only 47 percent of line of business employees are even aware of what digital transformation is – let alone whether their company has a plan to address/achieve digital transformation.

Although the awareness gap is largely concentrated among line of business employees who are not managers, it’s a severe impediment to transformation success for most organizations. In fact, just 67 percent of managers and 27 percent non-managers’ surveyed said they were aware of what digital transformation is.

The report concluded that line of business employees, due to their lack of awareness, are more likely to falsely view their company’s transformation and automation efforts as “endangering their jobs”.

Obviously, for businesses that fail to communicate effectively, digital transformation projects are bound to fail. Here are some tips to help businesses do better with their digital transformation efforts:

# 1 | Spread the “same” message

When senior leaders talk about digital transformation, it’s important for them to share the same message with everyone. Talking to some groups about one vision and other groups about another vision or ‘end state’ can be disasterous.

Let’s understand this one with the help of an example: When senior leaders are working on automating certain tasks, telling everyone about what the project involves and how it will impact them is important, but it’s even more important to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

If IT thinks the job is to cut customer service staff while customer service thinks it’s about enabling them to do more with their time, your project is likely to fail — despite your best efforts — because it’ll hinder collaboration.

# 2 | Provide enough information

The water-cooler exists in the officer because people want to share information about things that are happening in their department and division. However, not everything they say is accurate and reflects the company’s vision.

Therefore, in order to avoid spreading misinformation and to ensure that all employees are on the same page, understand what the company is pursuing, and are aligned with the company’s digital plan for the future, senior leaders must provide enough information.

Before embarking on a digital transformation project, it’s a good idea to map out what the present state of a certain function or process is, how it will be impacted, and the projected end-state.

Circulating this to employees can help them form a full picture of the plan, and help them come up with ideas to contribute to and support the project.

# 3 | Communicate often

Communication is not a one-time exercise. Digital transformation projects are large, usually spread over many phases, and take several months or even years to complete.

As a result, senior leaders must endeavor to communicate with everyone once every few weeks — or at every appropriate milestone — and report back on progress, successes, and proposed changes to the plan.

Doing so will not only earn the trust of employees across the organization but also help crowdsource ideas as and when required. It will also help make sure your employees always feel invested.