People First: Getting Your Organization Ready For Digital Transformation

People are the driving force behind any development or innovation. When an organization undertakes Digital transformation, it affects all parts of an organization – thus making collaboration and resource management critical. Digital transformation does not only mean investing in new technology – it also involves a fundamental shift in the way an organization functions and the employees are in the centre of it.

Many CIOs agree that they underestimate the amount of work needed to engage their workforce to embrace digital transformation. When an organization embarks on their digital transformation, the management tends to focus mainly on technology. However, the companies who succeed are the ones who embrace the importance of the human experience through Change Leadership.

Change Leadership refers to the driving force, vision and processes that power large-scale transformation. It involves managing staff members see and accept the value of change and how they can contribute in making the change happen. This kind of an approach will ensure that the whole organization works harmoniously on the digital transformation journey.

Steps to get your organization ready for digital transformation

Involve stakeholders early

A key element in any successful transformation project is engaging stakeholders from the beginning so that they can act as champions of change within the company. Identify key team members and involve them in the process early. It would help to meet with team leaders and try to understand their pain points with the current systems. This will not only highlight the areas to focus on, it will make the leaders feel that they are a part of the process. This will propel them to cheerlead the change initiatives, answer their team’s questions/concerns and ensure their respective teams are ready for the upcoming changes.

Focus on the ‘Why’

Today’s Change Leaders should consciously connect their people to the ‘WHY’ behind the transformation initiatives, so that every employee of the organization can take pride in their work. Let’s face it – no one likes change. Explaining why certain changes are being made – like process improvements, increasing efficiency etc. will help people understand and adapt to the changes taking place. Sometimes, employees resist change as they feel that their jobs are at stake. Explaining how the changes will help them – for example shorten work cycles or improve quality – will help them know that they are not being replaced.

Create a strong Digital Culture

Accepting change requires a shift in mind-set. Creating a strong digital culture encourages employees to look for out-of-the-box solutions by engaging outward with customers and partners. It inspires people to take risks, fail fast, learn and move forward. A digital organization also thrives on transparency, speed and continuous iterations. If Change leaders can create such a foundation in the organization, employees will be more accepting of change. In fact, they will come to expect constant innovation through digital initiatives in the organization.

A recent BCG study conducted with 40 digital transformations showed that companies that focused on creating a digital culture were 5 times more likely to achieve breakthrough performance than companies that didn’t.

Develop Digital Skills

When an organization is transforming, it needs employees who can quickly adapt and start using the new technologies that are being implemented. Without this crucial element, the company would not be able to benefit from its various initiatives. Various research has shown that lack of required skill-sets is one of the greatest challenges listed by CIOs against digital transformation. Change leaders can overcome this challenge by building a pool of skilled digital employees and nurture existing employees to develop digital skills. This will encourage employees to enhance their capabilities and contribute more effectively to the organization.


The real purpose of digital transformation is to strengthen human capabilities. How the change is handled within the organization can make a big difference to the success of digital transformation. Technology may be the enabler of change but it is the people – employees, users, customers – who will ultimately transform the way your business functions. The first question every CIO should ask himself before starting is – How is this transformation going to impact people? With this as the starting point, chances of a successful digital transformation are greatly enhanced.

Tags: Business on Cloud Business Transformation Digital Transformation