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Digital Transformation is a journey that most large organisations these days are embarking on, but in our opinion without their best assets onboard – frontline employees.
Digital Transformation is a top-to-bottom process of rethinking your business and determining the best culture, processes and technology to meet the needs of your customers.
It doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t automatically kick in when new technologies are brought into the enterprise. If anything, many organizations are feeling the backlash of high expectations and lacklustre implementation.
One industry survey, for example, found that 66% of companies are experiencing difficulties in achieving their digital transformation objectives, and only 18% expressed confidence they could meet these goals.
From our experience of working with clients across several different industries, digital transformations do not fail not due to a lack of technology, but in our opinion, due to the fact that those who directly serve your customers or conduct the work to make your products are not engaged in the process but merely become the recipients of new tools or processes that are dictated to them by “those people sitting in the ivory tower!”.
How can I succeed in our Digital Transformation programme?
To be successful, you need the full participation and to engage everyone in your company, from the boardroom to the frontline. It’s especially important to involve those who are directly charged with producing or bringing products and services to your customers. Without this insight you will be missing a lot of valuable information and advocates for adoption.
Where successful transformation efforts are being achieved, inclusion of frontline staff is a contributing factor. A survey from early 2017 by McKinsey & Company found that companies successfully undergoing digital transformations were much more likely to report visibly engaged frontline staff: 73% compared with 46% of all other respondents.
This is confirmed by a new study conducted by Forbes Insights, which finds that 43% of executives in organisations with high levels of digitally empowered frontline staff report excellent progress in their digital transformation efforts, versus 21% of executives with few digitally empowered workers.
Four steps to bringing your people closer to the digital transformation programme
The role of frontline staff in digital transformation takes many forms, depending on industry and job roles, however there are some generic principles that you can apply to further enabling involvement.
Here are four ways to better integrate frontline staff into your digital transformation process:
- Rethink the role of frontline staff
To succeed with digital transformation, organizations need to capture and leverage the decisions and actions of frontline staff. These are the things that move organisations forward, define the customer experience and translate strategy into daily activities and tasks.The path to true digital transformation will require a rethinking of not only technology investments, but also of the roles and responsibilities of frontline staff. To help your employees succeed in today’s competitive economy, frontline staff require greater autonomy, information sharing, decision-making power and training. Technology is the enabler of these capabilities.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
Communicate progress early and often to ensure there is a collective understanding of how the programme is tracking.“Show, don’t tell progress to the front line,” say Dana Maor and the authors of the McKinsey transformation study. The risk, they observe, is that frontline staff “will see only the individual pain and not the aggregate gain. Communicating clearly and creatively in a way that stimulates dialogue around the transformation’s ambition and progress, further increases the chances of success.”
- Connect the organisation
Make use of familiar tools that break down barriers and allow anyone to share an idea from the frontline to the boardroom. Creative digital approaches to engaging employees include Enterprise Social Networks such as Yammer and live-feedback tools such as interactive town hall sessions. Ultimately, a more connected organisation is a more productive one, enabling all employees to turn their ideas into actions.
- Leverage data from interactions
Preparing and enabling frontline staff participation in digital transformation requires a strategy that involves training, technology, autonomy and information sharing. Digitally empowering frontline staff enables organisations to benefit from their unique role as they are the first touch point with customers, the first touchpoint with products or services, and authentic brand advocate. The data and insights from their every interaction represent tremendous potential for innovation and growth.
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