The Defining Factor of Digital Transformation Success is Decidedly Non-Digital

At Inspirant Group, we read a lot of articles about all aspects of digital transformation--the process audits and related changes, the strategic objectives and execution stumbling blocks, the technological breakthroughs and adaptations, for starters. We comb through gigabytes of articles about AI (artificial intelligence), big data, and machine learning written by experts everywhere. From independent consultants, to McKinsey & Co. and media outlets, to Ivy League think tanks, there are a plethora of outlooks and an abundance of opinions. Some of them are the same. Many of them are different. There is, however, one thread that weaves its way between all of these differing viewpoints. They all agree that success and failure for transformation initiatives comes down to one very non-digital variable:people.

Digital transformation involves more than just installing some new software. It starts with the reexamination of, and often a fundamental change to, how you do business. This is intimidating to the people on your teams. People like predictability. They like to know what is happening. Furthermore, people are often jaded by past change initiatives, ones that were either abandoned or not exactly successful. This combines to produce an environment where, rather than being change agents, your team may in fact become change blockers.

The solution to this is simple yet complex. It is simple in that all it really requires is understanding and responding to your team’s fears. It is complex in that you cannot assume you know their fears even if you do. People want to be heard. Even if you ”know” their fear is that the new technology will make serving customers more difficult, you still have to let them say it. It is not nearly enough to pre-address the fears in an all staff memo. A concerted effort must be made to listen to what they have to say. Let them know that you heard their voices. Only then can you respond with your plan to address those issues, even if that plan had been in place from the beginning.

The upside to all of this is that a great deal of the time, your team will point out potential hurdles before they occur. They are on the ground, in the trenches, on the front line with your customers and their issues, needs, and desires on a daily basis. They know where the real problems exist,not just where the symptoms appear. They will be able to tell you how to make sure that your digital transformation efforts elevate your business to a new level of success.

Digital transformation is essential to remain competitive. However, digital transformation can only succeed if it is embraced wholeheartedly by your very non-digital human resources.

If you would like to learn more about how you can better engage your team in your digital transformation process, Inspirant Group can help. The Inspirant holistic approach to digital transformation guides companies through the process, technology, and people aspects of digital change. Email us at hello@inspirantgrp.com for more information.


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Meighan Newhouse is the Chief People Officer at Inspirant Group. In this role, she is responsible for creating a cohesive culture for both full-time employees and independent contractors. Prior to joining Inspirant Group, Meg owned and operated Colette Allen Consulting and continues to perform charitable work through Colette Allen Charities.