What should be the path towards digital transformation? What aspects need to be taken into account?
How do we define digital transformation? We could term it as the reimagining and refurbishing of the way businesses operate, aided by today’s advanced technology. According to the IDC 2018 Digital Transformation Predictions report, spending on digital transformation will reach $1.7 trillion worldwide – a 42% increase from 2017. Organizations too are strengthening their digital initiatives. In 2015, Cegos had conducted a survey titled 5 drivers of success for the 2020s workplace. At that point, only about 3 out of 10 organizations had spoken about a clear digital roadmap for the future. In their latest upcoming survey though, over 6 out of 10 of the organizations questioned were affirmative of a digital blueprint for 2018-2020.
In other words, the power of digital is immense and most organizations have realized that digital platforms have enabled and stimulated innovative forms of work and talent management and are dominating most sections– from productivity to workforce composition, hiring decisions to business analytics and performance management systems to learning content. L&D is no exception. Digitization and tech-enabled learning have transformed the role of L&D, as we know it. But a complete digital transformation in L&D is not easy and L&D professionals need to up their tech game to reach that stage.
However, instead of randomly going about the whole process, L&D can follow a specific manner in which it could approach the transformation.
Here’s how L&D can approach digital transformation:
1. Developing the right mindset
The first step in any process has to be setting out a clear, ambitious vision. This is not just about developing a technological mindset. It is about understanding what learning objectives the organization wants to achieve, what its training targets are and then decide on how technology fits into each of these brackets. Then it is about having every single person in the company come on board for the process, which means calling for complete commitment and dedication within the organization. It may mean revamping existing strategies and re-training staff for the new process. Also, it helps to be transparent about the plan, especially with the team so that people can offer opinions and collective wisdom is often good. There is nothing to hide because failures are a part and parcel of a new process. So, just as success is shared, shortcomings too have to be shared. Digital transformation is not just about web and social media and there is much more to it. Digital transformation is about ‘being’ digital and not just ‘doing’ digital.
2. Putting together the right people
There may be people within the organization who can spearhead the whole transformation process and they may have to be zeroed in on. Else, there may be a need to look outside the organization for an external person who can guide the teams, handhold and lead the whole process. The IT team, of course, plays the most crucial role, so they have to be well-versed with the idea.
Management buy-in is an incredibly important step starting with the fact that there have to be at least a few people in the higher echelons of the organization who get the idea and those who do not, have to be educated about it. Once this is in place, the next step is to disseminate proper knowledge among the employees who will form a key part of the whole transformation process. There may be a need to put in some digital staff into various teams and departments across the organization so that there is ease in the shift.
3. Focusing on the process (es)
It’s not about having big goals and targets. It’s all about taking small steps and achieving one thing at a time. Problems have to be fixed before moving on. This is where a strong research team that ensures the groundwork is on track comes into the picture. It is good to set up an in-house R&D team or find an external partner that can support and help develop future ideas. Most importantly, since every initiative by the L&D should have the learner at its core, it makes sense to involve them in the process, gauge their response and include their suggestions too. Moreover, there is no reason to sit and design systems, products and ideas from scratch. There are companies who do this well and it helps to work with them. In the end, several steps in the digital transformation process may be based on trial and error. So if something is not working or showing results, it is better to stop that or put in an effort to improvise it.
4. Supporting with (the right) software
Cloud is a vital cog in the wheel of digital transformation. The cloud model provides immediate, on-demand access to the latest solutions and approaches and ready-to-deploy environments for creating and delivering the innovative business strategies and products. It also ensures that teams can work from anywhere, anytime without having to stick to office hours and location. Similarly, every organization has different sets of learning objectives which means one-size fits all solutions cannot work.
Specific solutions have to be created for learning and development programs that address the training challenges in that organization. Once the system is in place, it is good to let everyone know how it is progressing, perhaps by putting up a live dashboard of current performance somewhere in a prominent place in the office. The most important step is to ensure that whatever process the organization is adapting is sustainable in terms of finance and maintenance. Only implementing does not help if it can’t be supported and maintained for a long time.
At its heart, digital transformation is about changing minds as much as it is about replacing technologies. L&D needs to join the majority with respect to ongoing digital transformation of the workplace and provide a continuous learning experience that is simple, engaging, and personalized. After all, everyone likes to have the same technology experience each of us has outside of work every day.