Jason Averbook: Five steps to digital transformation

Jason Averbook writes the "People Side of Digital" column for HR Executive magazine in the US. He shares five vital steps for digital transformation.
By: | September 17, 2019

“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”—Winston Churchill

Organisations are undertaking digital transformation in an effort to improve and innovate workforce experience, drive efficiency, harness data insights and prepare the business for growth. Even if you have nothing called digital transformation in your 2020 plans, we are always maturing — every one of us. Your business cannot grow, change or adapt without digital transformation or maturation.

HR owns digital transformation of your workforce — a workforce that is ready for it … waiting for it … expecting it! They want to complete work tasks as easily, as seamlessly and in the same frictionless way they complete activities in their daily lives.

Your workforce is ready. Are you, HR?

HR readiness for digital transformation

Most digital-transformation projects fail. CIO.com declares only 3% of organisations report complete, sustained success of their transformation effort. I’d venture to guess many of these “failed” transformations probably executed a transition of technology or processes versus a true transformation. Harvard Business Review suggests lots of reasons why transformation fails. Since every digital transformation requires people transformation, monitoring and managing workforce experience can make the difference between project failure and success—and your ability to compete and thrive.

Most of these transformation projects will fail if they lack a clear vision and strategy to execute — a digital-transformation vision that’s both defined and embraced from the top down in your organization. The most common conundrum we hear at Leapgen is lack of executive buy-in on a shared vision of the desired end game. I shared my thoughts recently on our overly casual use of the term “experience.” Employee experience, executed correctly, will have the biggest impact on the HR function compared to anything else we’ve done in the past five decades.

Everyone in your organisation, beginning with the CEO, needs to have a clear vision of what employee experience means to your organisation. Only then can you make critical decisions about how to design, deliver, measure and sustain it.

Digital-transformation initiatives also fall short when they fail to plan prioritised deployment to key segments of the workforce — as opposed to a big-bang approach, when they lack the required funding to see the project through to completion and when they fail to engage critical stakeholders. Most transformation projects, for example, include a project sponsor and steering committee, along with the system administrators and testers, who help to configure and deploy technology.

But, have you also arranged a “voice of the workforce” advisory board representing the needs of your workers? How about enabling and sustaining the change you set out to accomplish through a change-management task force with marketing or internal communications support? Then there’s data migration and integrity and the new possibilities of real analytics after your transformation work is complete. The possibilities of data consolidation and insights, and true people analytics, should have been one of the business outcomes you set out to realize; are you reaping these rewards?

20/20 vision for 2020 digital transformation
Successful and sustained digital transformation of workforce experience will address the following five critical components of transformation:

  • Organisational readiness
    • Buy-in from key leaders
    • Employees and managers ready to embrace new processes
    • Access to devices and tools required to support future state
    • Budget and resources to support rollout and beyond
  • Process and solution readiness
    • Optimal business processes designed in preparation for digital solutions
    • Voice of the customer (i.e., your workforce) research informing the design of your solution
    • Software selection considers fit within overall architecture
  • Content/knowledge readiness
    • Content managed in such a way to deliver personalized insights (i.e., notifications, campaigns) and digital experience (i.e., FAQs, how-to’s) to your workforce
    • Content channels meet workers where they are; content optimized for digital delivery and consumption
    • Content managers in place to create, update and maintain ongoing, relevant content that meets usability standards
  • Change readiness
    • Key stakeholders identified who will adopt and adapt to change
    • Change champions help communicate “What’s in it for me?”
  • Data readiness
    • Future-state architecture, integration points and reporting needs defined
    • Data normalized for migration, including historical data

Failure to address any one of these critical components will cause your digital-transformation project to fall short of intended business outcomes. Remember, your business cannot grow, cannot innovate and change, and cannot compete and thrive without long-term, successful, sustained transformation.

In just a few weeks, I’ll be at HR Technology Conference & Exposition discussing the difference between true digital transformation and a simple transitioning of technologyVisit my team at Booth 2036 for your 20/20 vision test for 2020 digital transformation; we’ll have consultants on hand with prescriptive guidelines for ensuring your transformation pays the dividends you need it to.

Will we see you there? We can help you prepare. Your workforce is waiting; your business needs it. It’s our time, HR!

More from HRM Asia