How Employee Buy-In and Engagement Affects Digital Transformation

Digital transformation refers to the profound transformation of organizational activities, competencies, processes and models to strategically leverage the opportunities of digital technology – keeping present and future business shifts in mind.

Okay, that sounds a bit technical, so let’s make it a little easier to digest: In the scope of this “digital transformation,” we primarily focus on the business element – the development of new “competencies” revolves around the capacities to be more people-oriented, agile, customer-centric, innovative, efficient, streamlined and able to leverage opportunities to change the status quo while tapping into new information and service-driven revenues. Not surprisingly, the periodically hot term “digital transformation” – while hot again – is lost on most people, with many so-called “IT gurus” not even understanding where its real power lies.

The New-Age Digital Transformation

The typical definition of digital transformation that has been used by consultants and vendors for years suggests that one needs to “keep up with new technologies and use them;” the problem is, the technologies have changed over time. In a proverbial nutshell, digital transformation is the application of digital technologies to fundamentally impact all aspects of business and society.

Indeed, if your company has not been applying digital technologies over the last 40 years, we hate to tell you that you don’t exist – the time-share, mainframe, departmental computing, client server, PC, ERP, Internet, cloud and mobile eras are considered “old news” by many in the IT sector. You see, the adoption of these technologies doesn’t necessarily equate to you being “digitally transformed,” even if you are “digitized,” as most of these have been applied to existing processes (i.e. paper forms became electronic forms, cash became bits, paper documents became PDFs and HTML pages, sales transaction logs and invoices became sales-force automation and ERP).

Digital Transformation and the Value Prospect

How can digital transformation bring value to a business? Many companies employ leaders who begin the digital transformation process with nebulous notions of a digitized enterprise but fail to link their planned projects and programs to business value. Unfortunately, when leaders don’t prove how their efforts will ultimately create value, they are giving their CFO, CEO and other stakeholders little to jump up and down about. In other words, the “cool factor” isn’t going to cut it with those people that hold the keys to the budget you so desperately want to access.

The bottom line: When you fail to demonstrate the value of digital business derived from your initiatives, your chances of snagging more funding are dramatically reduced. So how can we change this?

It calls for the capture of the right data and using it to demonstrate business value. The three major digital business value takeaways include:

  • Ensuring a few early and easy quick-wins, which show digital business value to build confidence among executives.
  • Tackling at least one sensitive issue to demonstrate just how serious you are about solving business dilemmas.
  • Orchestrating a balanced portfolio which can generate value for a broad range of executives and lines of business.

When you establish clear digital business value, you will keep digital business transformation high on your CEO’s list of strategic priorities.

The Employee Buy-In Factor

A successful digital transformation, perhaps with a sense of pure irony, is less about the tech and more about the people. Getting employees – from top to bottom – to adopt a digital transformation mindset is critical to any plan, and it’s easily the most difficult part. Why? Because it spans an entire organization, strikes at the heart of a company’s culture and requires a lot of people to alter their relationships with technology. Ask any business leader and he or she will tell you the same thing: Getting employees to adjust to these changes is a challenge and a half.

The solution revolves around employee engagement and the buy-in factor, and there are tactics to follow in order to gain employee buy-in and get them to eagerly use your digitally transformed solutions. These include:

  • Putting Together a Compelling Sales Pitch for Digital Transformation Think of employee buy-in as one of the most important sales pitches you need to present; come up with ways that you can get the best responses out of potential clients or budget room out of the executive team.
  • Being Responsive About Concerns End-users are going to want to know details concerning how their experience changes when the new solutions are brought in or new business processes are put in place – so anticipate as many of these questions as possible and have answers ready for them.
  • Explaining What Success Looks Like What will employees’ daily job duties entail after a successful digital transformation? Get them excited about what you have planned in the future.
  • Making Sure You Keep Employee Buy-In Once You Have It Buy-in is not a one-and-done deal; make sure to continue your efforts throughout the process and encourage valuable feedback each step of the way.

Let’s be honest: Leadership is complex during a digital boom. Coupled with rising voluntary attrition rates, it’s essential that today’s leaders understand how to successfully support talent development to retain and engage the leaders of tomorrow. Here are several ways to create employee engagement and keep them active in the process of digital transformation:

  • Build Trust Solid trust levels legitimize and confirm hard work efforts to establish a powerful, functional relationship with team members.
  • Encourage Peer Learning and Coaching Beyond formal instructor-led or virtual learning, good old-fashioned coaching and mentoring can go a long way when it comes to employee performance.
  • Communicate Succinctly Share the podium so it’s not a one-way conversation, assign a different individual to head weekly meetings so they are accountable for key point capture and more and take advantage of social platforms for meetings to not only establish communities that are easy to design, use and implement but to share goals of the team and project status, research upcoming events and allow for team collaboration and a powerful sense of connectedness.

Ultimately, the goal here is to teach (and lead) the future leaders of an organization by way of leveraging the digital workplace to help them connect, collaborate and communicate – all with a keen eye on the future so a company sees results that are extraordinary.

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