The City and businesses across the UK have hearing about “digital transformation” for years.
But it took the watershed year of 2020 to really highlight just how businesses and organisations need to align technology solutions to their business goals.
While the real life test case for digital transformation was playing out in front of our eyes once lockdowns were announced, staff were no longer sitting in an office.
They were working from home in a myriad different places. To understand this crucial change and its impact on workforces across the UK, City A.M. sat down with Square Mile insider and operational guru Allan Boyle, the founder of Saltwater Consulting.
“Pretending that the essential nature of digital transformation is the same pre and post lockdowns, where the world of work has utterly changed is delusional,” says Boyle.
“Organisations pretending otherwise will come short,” he shared with this paper today.
Boyle is forthright in his support for remote working. He stressed that each business needs to evaluate new ways of working for staff and decide what is best for their individual case.
However, from a broadly speaking perspective, he believes that businesses which offer remote working capabilities will win the best talent and be viewed as a people-first organisation.
That said, prior to 2020 all the teams delivering digital transformation were all located in an office.
“When we speak about digital transformation, what we’re really speaking about is customer experience.Allan Boyle
He goes on to say that customer experience is multi-layered. “If you think about how your customers know about you, order from you, receive products and services from you, contact you to solve a problem, or lodge a complaint with you, a sense quickly develops of just how complex the area of customer experience is.”
It’s not a stretch to see how teams that were responsible for working out, and eliminating, pain points in the customer journey for an organisation were able to do that with more ease being in one place.
“We’re speaking in simplified terms here. It’s also important to note that being in the office might not have been the best environment for the team member.”
“However, the lines of communication between the leadership team and the team members carrying out the work were simpler. It’s dishonest to argue otherwise,” said Boyle.
Now, in the latter half of 2022, society in general, has some learnings under our collective belt. The same goes for business.
While the announcement of lockdowns by governments across the world were met with panic, the business community rallied quickly.
“Let’s be honest,” said Allan, “there was no choice. You were either going to get your team set up remotely on the double to keep trading, or you were going to shut your doors permanently.”
With that, remote working, en masse, entered the world of work.
Suddenly driving huge digital transformation projects wasn’t a case of going into a scrum meeting on a Monday morning any longer.
So with staff sitting in multiple locations, what does this mean for digital transformation?
“It’s simple,” Boyle stressed. “Businesses who want to deliver digital transformation strategies that work for the customer now need to focus on employee experience too.”
Employee experience has come to be a game-changer in a short period of time. In 2014, the MIT Sloan Management Review website published research entitled “The New Elements of Digital Transformation.”
In the research, three authors, George Westerman, Didier Bonnet and Andrew McAfee, identified nine factors considered crucial for digital transformation.
Employee experience was not one of the nine. It was mentioned in the framework, but under the “Operations” category.
In 2022, that is no longer the case. Now, getting your employee experience right is essential to getting your digital transformation right. “The opposite is true too.”
“When we speak about digital transformation, what we’re really speaking about is customer experience.”Allan Boyle
Recently, the same three authors have published a new version of their research as ‘The New Elements of Digital Transformation’ has been updated on the MIT website again. This time around, employee experience has a category of its own.
In fact, one of the authors shares in crystal clear terms the vital importance employee experience holds in delivering digital transformation.
“Employee pain points can be valuable cues on where you can improve the business,” George Westerman said. “If you innovate the work experience, you make the whole company better, including the customer experience.”
Boyle puts it more plainly. “We’re beyond the point of Pizza Fridays.”
This interview with me was originally published in City A.M. by Michiel Willems in C