Digital Transformation is About People

Change by satisfying basic human needs to learn, belong, and grow

Digital Transformation is About People

The traditional structure of work meant that putting in a full day of work would result in about a day’s work of output. But if pace, scaling, and development were fast in the pre-COVID-19 world, the current pandemic environment has expedited transformation even more, with digital strategies taking the lead and reshaping the future of work. Leveraged work, where one day of work can result in exponentially greater outputs, is increasingly more valuable and sustainable.

A regulatory inspector, for example, can create value that exceeds two inspectors working twice as hard by leveraging digital tools and smart technology. Ten inspectors working ten times as hard will have dramatically different outputs depending on whether their work has been leveraged. This is also true for lawyers, where working in an out-dated model can only produce as much as the time and effort that is put in. While billable hours have not been optimized for time efficiency, clients’ perceptions of value have shifted, notably in the response and recovery to COVID-19.

Nearly a year after the pandemic acted as a catalyst for transformative change, organizations have prioritized, supported, and implemented digital strategies that would normally have taken years. With the acceleration of digital improvements brought upon by the health crisis, leveraged work and sustained transformation have become essential drivers for productivity and client engagement. The way that services have adapted to digital experiences, responded to daily changes in demand and behaviour, and attempted to maintain lasting improvements are already influencing performance and competitiveness in the future world.

But anyone can purchase technology and use tools like artificial intelligence and algorithms; successful transformations require investment in people to make the technology useful. Possibilities for improvements and efficiency gains require reinventing business models and, at their core, business models are people working together. Some people are ready for change, others are not, and digital strategies depend on the readiness of people to succeed. Below are three areas for consideration to future proof workforces.

  1. People need to upskill to support and be supported by technology. Whether it is distributed work arrangements or deep learning technologies, good judgment and leadership to navigate crisis has become far more important than how much or how hard an individual works. Learning to use the right tools at the right time are integral for people-led, technology-supported changes that augment and optimize human and machine expertise. 
  2. People need to build, measure, and learn to the pace of crisis. The luxuries of time, funding, and talent are abbreviated during a pandemic. But times of crises have also generated some of the largest businesses and most successful innovations. By focusing on agile ways of working and taking bold risks, the execution of initiatives can be expedited through phases of testing, scaling, and refining. There may be more room for error, but there are also more opportunities to fail fast and recover.
  3. People need to engage and be empowered to transform. Culture shifts require time, persistence, and understanding of the problems that technological tools are being used to solve. Lasting digital transformation requires ownership of changes and mitigating against risks and fear. Investing in individuals who are innovative, adaptable, and intellectually curious can drive change; investing in those who can manage these individuals to outperform will drive transformation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nature of work. While it has had devastating consequences, it has also expedited digital transformation and highlighted the best and worst of people. If the lessons of the crisis can help people rise above the daily challenges, then technologies developed and amplified during the pandemic can be leveraged toward a stronger future.

Related Articles