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January 8, 2017updated 06 Jan 2017 3:31pm

Adapting to the cultural changes that come with digital transformation

From an operational perspective, corporate IT must deliver, but now more so than ever the technology choices a business makes will impact the way the company is perceived.

By James Nunns

A strong culture permeates all aspects of business, irrespective of whether it is an SME with a handful of staff through to an enterprise organisation with thousands of employees distributed across the world.

Get the company culture formula right and what follows will be an atmosphere of

Justin Anderson GM EMEA at Appirio.

Justin Anderson GM EMEA at Appirio.

efficiency, collaboration and performance. With an improved Worker Experience and high employee retention, talent acquisition is easy. However, get it wrong and it’s a path to underperformance and weak growth.

There are many ways in which senior management can influence company culture from the top down ethos set out by the CEO through to the benefits and perks rolled out by HR.

From an operational perspective, corporate IT must deliver, but now more so than ever the technology choices a business makes will impact the way the company is perceived. It can define the underlying culture which runs throughout the organisation under every line of business. Some of the cultural challenges businesses face and ways to address them include:

C-Suite adoption: C-level executives must be as much a part of the technology adoption process as possible and be seen as the leaders in executing this change. Their investment in fostering innovation and pursuing change that benefits the company will in turn, foster positive sentiment amongst their employees, when it comes to changing the way they work.

Plug the generation gap: Influenced by some of the biggest changes in technology including cloud, mobile and social media, the new breed of digitally proficient and mobile dependent employees crave information, be it access to it or the ability to share it. This attitude poses a problem for more seasoned executives who don’t share the same enthusiasm around collaboration or mobile working.

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Organisations need to think about how they attract and maintain the best employees and talent. Taking advantage of innovative ideas such as crowdsourcing needs to be considered as an option for organisations looking to find the right talent for their projects. It is fast becoming a way for younger talent and other workers to hone their skills. Equally it is helping organisations manage talent from all generations, as it allows them to move quickly and maintain their competitive edge.

Engaging employees: It’s all well and good adopting new technologies, but a lack of understanding of how the technology will be used to make a difference, can sink the sartorial digital transformation ship. Technology may solve a problem, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a solution in isolation. How does it align with the business’ digital goals?

Big data and analytics are part of most digital business models now. However, the strategy has to go beyond collection. When a business embraces a data culture it empowers its skilled workers to draw conclusions from the data in order to make fact-based decisions and collect important insights.

Lagging customer experience: This can be down to one thing, unsatisfied and unmotivated employees. A business may not have the right technology solution mix or have invested in providing employees the tools they need to provide a better service to their customers.

Tools such as Google Docs make a statement about the type of company you want to be. However, it’s crucial not to just “push out” change to an organisation with little regard for training and employee involvement. Workers don’t appreciate feeling that they were forced to use a new system for which they had no training, and many of whom — while excited about a new technology — had no idea how to use it correctly. It might also be wise to think of alternative training methods that don’t involve sitting in a room for hours trying to learn a new system all at once.

A robust learning calendar, established goals and key performance indicators for employees are the keys to a successful Worker Experience and improved customer service. The ability to access training through contextual learning, short videos, user adoption sites, and quick reference guides can also make a huge impact.

As businesses shift towards digital business models, their current infrastructure, employees and processes will have to adapt with it. Ignoring the human factor that comes with change and cultural challenges that will affect a business, will have serious consequences for all involved from the CEO, down to the baseline employee, to the customer. Knowing how to address those challenges and improving the Worker Experience will improve efficiency, foster innovation and streamline the customer experience.

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