Driving digital transformation through people transformation

Driving digital transformation through people transformation

Overcoming misconceptions about what technology can and can't do is a key

Our world is becoming more and more digitised. With travel curbed and remote work an option for many because of the pandemic, the digital world has been expanding even faster than we imagined it would. We knew it was bound to happen but were unaware of the rate of growth. Are we truly ready and equipped to face the digital world and beyond?

The answer is yes — that is if we’re ready to understand and face the challenges that transformation brings. If we are facing problems from the digital world, they stem from our own misconceptions of the role technology plays in the workplace. We will find it more difficult to successfully carry out digital transformation when people themselves don’t transform in parallel.

Today I want to share with you some of the misconceptions about digital transformation that could hinder us from successfully implementing it in our organisations.

The first misconception is that technology replaces people. While technology can replace some human tasks, it cannot fully replace humans just yet. This misconception creates fear, so some people avoid technology as a whole rather than embracing its potential.

In reality, this can be turned around — technology can support our strengths and free us of mundane tasks, while we develop ourselves in other ways to drive our careers and businesses forward. In fact, we can look at technology as way to help us shift our focus to more important things. Administrative tasks may never go away but they can be supported and made easier using technology.

The second misconception is that technology will make things faster and more efficient for organisations. While this is true in many ways, it still ties in with the first point that technology cannot fully replace people. It can make work more efficient, but people still hold the power to spur on organisational efficiency and agility.

Digital transformation isn’t all about the best technologies to support the organisation. It is about using technology to support the people who really drive the business forward through the power of human connections.

The third misconception is that digital transformation is all about integrating technology in the workplace. Going digital isn’t just about new softwares or hardware. In fact, to successfully begin digital transformation, organisations must become hyper-focused on customers. Understanding their true needs and answering them through innovation and technology is how the organisation can become sustainable.

While the customer is one focus, it’s also important to ensure your people have the right mindset to constantly learn new things so they can keep pace with change. Digitisation requires agility, not just in work but also in terms of learning the things that will be important going forward.

The fourth misconception is that digital transformation is an option and not necessary for businesses that don’t use machinery or technology to function. As I mentioned previously, digital transformation doesn’t focus only on technological growth for the business but more on supporting people’s growth to drives business growth.

Without people, digital transformation won’t be successful. So whether our businesses make heavy use of technology or not, it is still important to consider when thinking about the future of the organisation. A good example of digital transformation for businesses, regardless of the level of hardware or software the company uses, is the shift toward remote work during the pandemic lockdown earlier this year.

The final misconception is that digital transformation is now a major requirement for every company to succeed. While the fourth misconception speaks of its importance, it doesn’t necessarily mean every company must make a 360-degree transformation toward becoming digital. Not every business requires it, but nearly every business needs to transform on some levels in order to meet the challenges of the changing business landscape.

Digital transformation will look different to different industries and organisations. Some businesses may find a full transformation is required to answer customer needs, and some may only require basic changes to ensure they can sustain success in the future.

People are the core and heart of every organisation so it is only natural that whatever changes and transformations take place — in this case digital — people still remain at the core. When digital transformation efforts fail, it is usually because people do not fully support them because of negative misconceptions. We are hard-wired to stick to the usual because if it works, so why change?

Digital transformations are initiatives that need to span the entire organisation. The decision to transform is one that leaders must buy into, but they must also be able to inspire and empower their people to embrace the change to sustain future success.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC - Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at arinya_t@seasiacenter.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa. Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at https://www.yournextu.com


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