Redefining digital transformation for the modern work environment

Kriya Govender, CEO of PRP Solutions

“Digital transformation” has been a hot topic for company executives for a while, but it failed to gain traction in their businesses.  However, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, momentum has shifted with those still undecided about digital transformation and forced many organizations to accelerate their digital transformation strategy.

Digital transformation can be daunting for organisations at the best of times. Over the years, it has become a business imperative as companies across most industry sectors, focus on delivering the most value for customers while optimising employee productivity and leveraging modern technologies to improve key business measurements and metrics required to do all this.

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to your company’s digital transformation strategy. However, the common elements are improved customer experience, workforce enablement, agile operations, leadership and culture and digital integration. The pandemic has also redefined the modern work environment from state-of-the-art workplaces to “work from home”. This shift was easier for companies that had already embarked on their digital transformation journey and for those that did not, it was “survival mode”.

Evolving to an organization that is fully digital helps ensure that relevant information in available in real-time to your people. Your people stay connected with each other and the company, productivity increases, inefficiencies eliminated which leads to happier workforces and happier clients.

This centres on ensuring the availability of the right information to those who need to access it as quickly as possible. If it is spread across disparate systems or stored in legacy environments, then it becomes almost impossible to provide unified access. A digital environment can enable the company to overcome this by equipping those at the proverbial coal front with the insights they need.

However, this requires an intelligent ecosystem where all systems ‘talk’ to one another. It comes down to making relevant information available where it is needed. This means that disparate systems such as HR, payroll, finance, enterprise resource planning, and the like with all the data in siloes need to integrate to fully realise a digitally transformed workplace.

Data, data, data

Employees, regardless of where they are working from, therefore need to have the right tools available to them, know how to effectively use them, and be able to access the data necessary to do their jobs. The days of on-premises servers and data centres are giving way to hybrid environments where data is available in the cloud.

The rapidly evolving regulatory environment has seen adherence to the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) in South Africa and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe become mission-critical to remain competitive in today’s connected world. It has given impetus to the better management of data across multiple environments whether on site or in the cloud. It has provided additional focus for management and executives to approach digital transformation, especially as it relates to data management and integration, from a regulatory perspective while still delivering business value.

Changing focus

And beyond this, to be truly digitally transformed companies must move away from timekeeping and focus more on outputs, outcomes, and having key measurements and metrics available to employees. If the systems are integrated, people can gain a better understanding of how long it takes to perform specific tasks. Furthermore, if this is available digitally, it will provide insights to management on historic trends and management dashboards enabling them to take the corrective actions when required to plan better. Having information available digitally with fully integrated systems gives rise to new dashboards that improves company decision making and avoidable business failures. A good analogy to the benefits of having business information available digitally in real time is a pilot that has all relevant information available in real-time on his dashboard in his cockpit. It is virtually impossible for a pilot to navigate stormy weather safely without a dashboard. This dashboard provides them with invaluable real-time information, so they can take corrective actions where required. In the business world, having all this information available digitally means they have the necessary measurements and metrics needed to take the necessary corrective actions around their strategy and daily operations.

Companies must therefore provide employees with access to solutions that equip them to do their jobs as effectively as possible. And because these solutions are invariably cloud-based, managers can also track progress on how employees are meeting their targets.

Central to all this is the mindset required to affect change across the organisation. Technology is important, data integration is important, but none of this can happen without a concerted effort from the Leadership and culture of the organization.. Therefore, for business to become digitally transformed, changes must happen across all levels of the organisation.