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The human element of digital change

Written by Alistair Sergeant on Monday, 02 December 2019. Posted in Leadership, People

Children used to play outside with friends, get muddy, eat worms and yet they somehow managed to survive.

The human element of digital change

Children used to play outside with friends, get muddy, eat worms and yet they somehow managed to survive. To see young children today, indoors, glued to screens using the latest apps, the latest technology and only communicating with friends through their devices is not only a worrying sign of the times but also reflective of how the speed of digital transformation is alienating real human interaction socially but also within business.

Bring back the humans

According to the latest statistics, 88% of digital transformation projects fail and there is a reason for that.

The speed of digital change is something that no business can ignore but most try relentlessly and largely unsuccessfully to keep up with. We are surrounded with new processes, new technology and business models and it is easy to get so wrapped up by technology that we forget to consider that without the human element, the transformation process will fail.

This exponential growth of tech platforms has resulted in a serious skills gap within the business sector. As a result, both large corporations and SMEs UK wide are not as agile as they could be, not only affecting growth, but also impacting customer experience and employee engagement.

We know that (most) cars, no matter how technologically advanced they are, need a human to drive them and this is just the same when implementing digital change in your business.

Meaningful change starts with people, not technology. Your team needs to adapt to keep up with the pace by making changes to the way they have worked in the past but none of this can work successfully unless we encourage a chance in culture.

The role of the manager

To implement an effective digital transformation strategy, the role of the manager is vital. In so many cases, those implementing the strategy haven’t taken the time to understand what needs to be changed, what the strategy should aim to deliver and when, and more importantly how to correctly communicate change with staff or other company stakeholders.

It’s time to remove the digital-first approach as this method requires your entire team to buy in to it and almost forces them into a corner. To work on a new team culture in the business, which encourages your staff to embrace the changes and understand the reason for the changes, takes time. As a manager you need to guide and support your employees, encourage them and give them time to grow with the transformation process.

Understanding how they work, how they think and playing to their strengths is time consuming but will ultimately help to grow your successful ‘human-first’ approach.

Get to know your customers

Customers are human too. They are not just numbers on a sheet. It is vital you get to know them, get to the bottom of what they like, what they want and also what they don’t want. You are aiming to promote a human-centric approach so that you give them the solutions they actually want and not what you assume they want.

You can maximise the success of your product or brand by taking the time to get to know who your target market is and allowing them to see that there are humans behind the brand who actually care about what they want and are prepared to talk to them and listen to them.

No matter how advanced technology is becoming, in certain situations there is simply no replacement for the human touch. Empathy plays a large part in positive company and team growth as well as social skills, the power of persuasion and negotiation, and these are all done better by humans and is what your customers will relate to.

Be patient

Building a wraparound ecosystem within your business where humans and technology can work together with more of a balance is where successful digital transformation will be most successful. One can’t work without the other but in your quest to beat off the competition, don’t overlook the heart of your business, which is the human element and ensure you invest as much in them as the technology you use. Take time to let a new company culture evolve and ensure that your employees understand the new structure and most importantly your vision as you are the ‘human’ who is implanting the change.

About the Author

Alistair Sergeant

Alistair Sergeant

Founder and CEO of Purple Consultancy, digital transformation consultancy. A driven and ambitious entrepreneur, Alistair successfully secured a number of prestigious positions within established technology consultancies, before launching the Purple brand in 2013. In 2016 he stripped Purple back to basics, reducing staff numbers from 20 to just two, and implemented a transformation strategy of his own to create a consultancy that could successfully lead the way in creating positive change for others.

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