The 3 Pillars of Digital Transformation – Why People Should be at the Heart of Transforming Your Business


How does a business effectively manage change? 

Moreover, how does a business effectively manage change when undergoing something as sweeping as a digital transformation? 

Digital transformation can unlock a business’ unrealised potential and catapult SMEs into the next level of growth and development. But the cost of getting the formula wrong and failing to correctly implement such sweeping changes can be eye-watering, as a disastrously botched recent digital transformation program by Spar Retail Group demonstrates. 

Knowing how to organise and prepare businesses for the dramatic changes digital transformation brings to bear on them is key to the success of the whole endeavour. This is where the PPT Framework comes in. 

The PPT Framework focuses on the three pillars at the crux of any massive change in a business’ operations, including digital transformation. These are People; Processes; and Technology, and they cannot be ignored if leaders are hoping for a successful transition, and the massive benefits that come with it. 


Why People are Key to a Successful Digital Transformation 

A damning study by McKinsey revealed that no less than 70% of digital transformation projects embarked upon by businesses fall short of expectations. The consistent theme in these failed attempts is a failure by leadership to adequately engage their teams, the people whose everyday work lives will be the most directly affected by the proposed changes and whose buy-in is therefore crucial to get those changes off the ground. 

In work as in life, old habits die hard, and they become ingrained in workplace culture through years of repetition and indoctrination of new hires in existing processes. Employees can therefore be resistant to change, fearful of threats to their jobs and positions and reluctant to embrace new technologies if it upsets the rhythm of their workday – even if these changes make life easier in the longer run! 

This hesitancy to embrace digital transformation can translate into a dip in workplace morale that contributes to a sluggish uptake in the new technology being introduced. It’s easy for leaders to get swept up in their passion for an exciting new vision – but if the people charged with implementing that vision aren’t fully on board, no amount of passion will make a difference. For a digital transformation to work, it needs buy-in from members of an organisation at all levels. 


What Can an Organisation do to Help Members Embrace Digital Transformation? 

Your enthusiasm as a leader implementing digital transformation is critical to the success of the program – but it may not be enough in isolation. These changes are upsetting the flow of employees’ everyday routine; it is going to come as a shock, no matter the advantages it bequeaths them. The trick is to mitigate that shock. 

So what can be done to make sure your team is on board? 

As in any relationship, communication is key. Bringing the team into the conversation as early as possible – as soon as the process has been green-lit, or even before, if the project is still only in the consideration stage – is crucial in winning the trust of your people. Not only should you paint a clear picture of the changes being implemented, and how this will affect operations once they are completed, but you should also outline the reasons for these changes in the first place. Your people are active participants in this transformation; they should not feel that it is something that is happening to them. 

Ultimately, changes that improve efficiency and streamline operations will make life easier for your employees, as well. Highlighting precisely how will help demonstrate that the digital transformation benefits them as much as it does the business, and make them more willing to buy into the process. 


How Can a Business Prepare its Staff for a Digital Transformation? 

The rapid rise of generative AI has filled headlines with dire warnings of job losses and profound social and economic change at all levels of society. It is therefore not uncommon for talk of digital transformation to be met with apprehension; will the changes being ushered in lead to job losses? Are your employees, in embracing digital transformation, midwifing their own obsolescence? 

As you well know, this does not necessarily have to be the case, even with sweeping digital transformations. This is where the leadership team has an opportunity to meet the organisation’s members halfway and show that they’re making an effort to factor them into the heart of every decision that’s being made about their working futures. 

Firstly, if jobs are not at risk as a result of this program of digital transformation, make that abundantly clear right from the outset. Put minds at ease and assure your team that these changes are set to improve their working lives, not jeopardise them. 

These improvements will often go above and beyond simple everyday workplace convenience, too. New technology and new workflows present an opportunity, often a necessity, to retrain and upskill employees in the harnessing of these new systems. This means employees aren’t just getting efficiency and convenience out of your proposed changes, but a chance for self-improvement and advancement as well. Digital transformation suddenly becomes not just a factor in growing the business, but in personal growth for everyone involved in its implementation too. Never underestimate the potential for personal incentives like these to bring employees on board with new ideas. 


How Should a Business Prepare its Stakeholders for Digital Transformation? 

Once you have your team on board and all rowing in the same direction, it’s imperative that you make sure you haven’t overlooked the other core human element in maintaining your business – your customers. 

Digital transformation will bring about seismic changes in how your organisation conducts business, and on the significant likelihood that this will impact the end-user experience, bringing your clients on board with the changes as early as possible will help smooth the transition. You don’t want to disrupt services or scare off customers with abrupt and sudden changes in how you interact with them, so apprising them of these changes well in advance of their implementation will help bring them along for the ride. 

First of all, this requires your implementation team to have extensively mapped out the social relationships that define your interactions with external stakeholders. Where are the points of contact between you and your customers; who is responsible for those interactions; and what workflows and processes drive them? Once you have a thorough understanding of these relationships you’ll be able to start to picture how they will look after your digital transformation; specifically, how the transformation will change them. 

With this in mind it will be much easier for your team to present the upcoming changes to customers to give them a clear idea of how things are changing and what will be different in future. Just like when addressing your employees, expressing the reason behind these changes and how it will improve the customer experience will help bring your customers on board with your digital transformation. The last thing you want to do is let a newfound benefit of doing business with your company go overlooked, simply because it wasn’t communicated adequately. Knowing yourself, and how your proposed digitalisation plan will improve the customer experience, is crucial to getting these points across clearly. 


How Can a Business Prepare Itself for Digital Transformation? 

If your business is preparing to undergo a digital transformation process, be sure you’re putting your best foot forwards by taking advantage of Target Integration’s free guide to digital transformation for SMEs. Downloading the guide also gives you access to our useful Digital Transformation Checklist, also completely free, to ensure that your business is covering all its bases before embarking upon its transformation. 


Want to know more? Check out our blog covering everything SMEs need to know about digital transformation. If you represent a business preparing to take the first bold step on its digital transformation journey, book a consultation today and one of our team will be happy to talk to you about how digital transformation can unleash your business’ full potential! 

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