Disruption and change are more than intellectual concepts in today’s business environment as they have become a reality for most industries and organizations. The causes for disruptions in the marketplace are numerous: technological innovations are impacting the way business is run, as well as, customer demands and behavior. Innovations are providing completely new business models and customer expectations for increased availability and mobility.
While digital transformation is widely adopted in the private business sector, it also impacts governments and public sector agencies that have manual or legacy systems but need to embrace emerging technology to solve far-reaching challenges like reducing pollution and providing care to aging populations.
There are several factors driving digital transformation in the public sector. First, geopolitical and national shifts are requiring more transparency making cost reductions important and second, the government now needs to meet the demands of a digital citizen. Whether they be workers, citizens, or consumers increasingly they are using digital and mobile devices. This lifestyle is not very compatible with paper-intensive processes which are typically associated with frustration and poor citizen experience.
Digital transformation is the thorough renewal of an organization’s processes, activities, and models to leverage opportunities presented by digital technologies that can accelerate change and impact society in a strategic way.
There are many myths about digital transformation that need to be dispelled and replaced with some realities. For example, while many believe that transformation is primarily to improve the customer experience, there are also many opportunities to increase business efficiency, productivity, and make better use of employee resources. Also, opportunities exist in all industries not just B2B or technology companies as some believe.
Here are four digital transformation realities worth highlighting:
- Closing the gap between business and IT is key. Both areas of the organization need to focus on the same goals without overlooking the role of IT.
- Despite digital transformation happening across a wide array of industries and businesses, the most successful transformations show common traits.
- No matter what the industry, customers, employees, business partners, and competitors are not going to wait for you to catch up.
- Digital transformation is an enterprise endeavor that requires the management to lead from the top down and employees to work on specific projects from the bottom up and so all must work together as a team to succeed.
Many organizations get into a “technology trap” of thinking that by just implementing some of the apps, mobile sites, and chatbots, etc. that their customers are using they are keeping up with the disruption. Remember Stephen Covey’s habit in “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that says, “Begin with the end in mind”. Putting that into the context of an effective digital transformation means that you need to define what digital transformation means for your organization before implementing a bunch of technologies you think will be liked by your customers. Before we end, let’s discuss seven habits of highly effective digital transformations:
- Have a people strategy of how to keep the workforce up to speed with the changes that are being made
- Invest in understanding the organization’s digital customers and how improvements can be made to the customer journey and experience
- Organize employees into teams that make sense for the organization that can carry out projects needed to be completed to make the transformation
- Form innovation roundtables to allow collaboration as technology is implemented
- Handle resistance by not apologizing for change
- Think like a start-up that must operate nimbly
- Make sure that management is completely on board with the ideas
The biggest pitfall an agency would want to avoid is delaying transformation and most organizations wait until lagging indicators such as financials force them into making a change. Then they are further delayed because they are not sure what to change, how to change, or where to go for help. To reimagine how work gets done, internal leaders often need to partner with external experts that have experience with business process reengineering and technology.
Digital transformation is a necessary and exciting undertaking in today’s technological culture. Yes, it can be tricky to navigate. That is why having an expert and visionary on your team are so crucial, but this reincarnation can impact society in a way that meets the core mission of government organizations in the 21st century. Some agencies may just improve worker productivity and customer experiences or some would be looking to create solutions to the difficult challenges that we are facing together as a nation. How technology can meet these challenges after all, is the ultimate test of its effectiveness.