Digital Transformation Is Not About Technology — It’s About People

As the pandemic continues to unfold, technology innovations that underpin digital transformation have been critical in helping companies respond to this crisis. It’s clear that automation, cloud platforms, and data-driven management tools, enabled by enterprise software, are destined to become permanent parts of the business landscape

But all this technology is not really about the technology. It’s about people. That is, people must be at the center of any successful digital transformation. 

The World Economic Forum recently examined current workplace changes and identified dozens of new or substantially changed categories of work. Crucially, the WEF took a look at how the current crisis has accelerated the arrival of “the future of work” through business adaptations to the pandemic and how this is reshaping the nature of tomorrow’s jobs.

Such jobs — including responsibilities, training processes, and required experience — all have one thing in common: They depend on digital technology and highly sophisticated software to track and enable work.

Despite the innovative, boundary-pushing nature of this technology, implementation inevitably leads to gaps in adoption and utilization. That’s because a deeply heterogeneous workforce comprises different needs, backgrounds, challenges, technical proficiency, experience, and affinity. 

A GPS for Digital Technologies

That’s precisely why people must be at the center of any digital transformation plan. This requires providing the right learning tools, especially as in-person onboarding is unavailable. These learning tools are the focus of a new industry that Gartner has characterized as Digital Adoption Solutions (DAS). 

DAS essentially focuses on software that sits on top of all enterprise applications to help users cut through the complexity and constant customization of their employer’s enterprise systems. It does that by automatically integrating real-time, context-sensitive, on-screen prompts, helping users learn to navigate the system more quickly and with greater confidence and proficiency. 

It’s essentially like a GPS for companies’ digital technologies. 

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DAS also enables leadership to set priorities and make adjustments based on KPIs. As executives work to develop and implement a culture conducive to today’s dramatic and ongoing change, they’ll need to address the needs of their workforce proactively and holistically. A crucial part of this is understanding where bottlenecks exist and why, as well as confronting those problems in a personalized way, on their terms, in the flow of work. 

DAS offers the capacity to generate the general analyses of the broader organization that senior leaders require while empowering users to overcome inefficiencies resulting from workers’ individualized needs. In our restructured business world, resolving this gap between strategy and implementation through deeply targeted insights in this way will be crucial. 

Demands on and of HR

These problems are particularly relevant to HR departments as they implement software to manage massive workforce realignments. The multifold demands of increased remote work, expanded use of mobile devices, and entirely new business processes impose a more fundamental burden on HR teams already struggling to unite disparate systems and software.

And given that 70% of software implementations fail according to their own success metrics, HR professionals must invest in tools that enable employees to adapt to new technology on their own terms through personalized, automated guidance. Because again, the impact of any digital tool depends on successful utilization by employees — especially to ensure that the workforce is nimble, fast at learning, and able to adapt to constant change. 

In the current business landscape, leading firms will likely be those that successfully prepare their workers to manage change. While this often relies in no small degree on technology, technology relies entirely on people. To fully realize digital transformation gains, companies must equip their workers with the tools they need to utilize that technology to its maximum potential. 

Vipul Gupta is the head of marketing at Whatfix, a digital adoption solution that disrupts application training, learning, and support content by providing contextual, interactive, real-time, and autonomous user guidance — driving additional adoption and productivity gains. Whatfix is based in San Jose, San Francisco, Bangalore, London, and Melbourne.  

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