Digital transformation – let the people do the driving.

Digital transformation – let the people do the driving.

Thanks in no small part to the pandemic and a series of lockdowns, the world has seen an explosion in technological innovation designed to change the way we work. However, a by-product of this is that we are also seeing an increase in the amount of technology for technology’s sake. 

As somebody who has dedicated his working life to digital technology and the development of new innovations, nothing excites me more than seeing businesses embracing new technology. However, time and again, it seems that people are focusing on the technology itself and forgetting the reason they are innovating in the first place: the people. There’s nothing wrong with innovating and embracing new technology in your business, but if you want your digital transformation to be a success, there are a number of things you need to consider. 

Why do you need this? 

It’s tempting to invest in new technology just for the sake of having something shiny and new. You might look at other businesses and see what they’re doing and think that you should be doing the same thing. But any new technology has to be developed to address a need. And wanting to show off your new digital product or app to your friends, competitors or colleagues probably doesn’t count. Instead, have a think about what issue your business is facing that you want technology to address

A great example of this are the various remote working technologies that many companies, including ours, embraced during lockdowns, including Google products, Zoom, MS Teams, Miro, Figma and Slack. These technologies fulfilled a definite need – enabling us to work together as a team while we were unable to attend the office. There was a very definite need that this technology was able to fulfil, and continues to fill. But before you embark on the timely and costly development of digital technology, it’s wise to first set out your stall as to what you want it to achieve. 

Who is this for? 

Frustratingly, this is so often overlooked, but you should never forget your end user. What do the people using the digital product want from it? You may very well want to increase productivity or sales, but what do the users of the tech need from it to be able to increase their productivity or sales? The user should be at the forefront of your mind throughout the development process and you should never lose sight of the ultimate goal which is, simply, to make life easier for the end user. 

Talk to your users 

To me, this feels like a no-brainer, but so many businesses will develop a new app, digital product or web tool without spending any time consulting their end user. Aside from being a little arrogant in assuming that you know what’s good for them, this is also counter-productive as people habitually resist change. This is human nature, it’s coded into our DNA and any time change is introduced, particularly to a workplace, it will meet resistance. Think about it, you may well want to develop a new app that will increase worker output or a web based sales solution to increase sales. But tell that to your staff or sales team and they will likely tell you that there is nothing wrong with their output, thank you very much! 

Instead, talk to them about what could make their role easier. What functions could a new digital tool provide that would be of benefit to them? Involving the users from the outset will have a number of key benefits. Firstly, it will ensure that your final development includes all the features that will be of benefit to your user and isn’t bloated with redundant or impractical features. Secondly, it will give the users a sense of ownership of the final product. They are less likely to resist the change where that change was their own idea. 

It’s also worth noting that the user should continue to be involved throughout the development process. Regular user consultation and testing will ensure that the UI is developed around the needs of the user in order to deliver a pleasing UX from the end product. This will help to increase adoption of the digital tools and prevent you from spending months developing an expensive white elephant. 

Working together 

An issue that larger companies often have is multiple departments working on multiple digital transformations simultaneously. This is problematic for a number of reasons. Firstly, there may be crossover between departments on requirements from the product, which can lead to doubling up the work when one single product could have worked for both departments. Conversely, the digital products developed by different departments may end up conflicting with one another. 

Instead, it’s much better for a company to pool its resources under a single leader or leadership team responsible for bringing about the digital transformation. You might also consider hiring a digital agency to deliver the transformation as a single, cohesive project. 

Digital transformation is an exciting prospect for any business. With the technology currently available and advances being made all the time, the possibilities are genuinely endless. But it’s important that we don’t get swept away on a wave of technological wonder without considering the people, the end users and employees, whose use of the technology is what will make it a success. 

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Duncan Beiley

Duncan Beiley



12 October, 2022

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