The transition from successful pilot project to new practice in an organization is in no way an easy task. One thing is whether the technology is actually scalable and can work with the rest of the IT landscape – and quite another thing is the human factor.
If you are serious about your digital strategy and want to develop your organization in a more digital direction, you will have no choice but to deal with the human aspect. Culture and processes can sometimes be difficult to manage - especially if employees and management do not have the same framework of understanding. Brian Troelsen, Business Development Director at NNIT, explains:
- It can be especially difficult to introduce digital innovations into the workflows of an organization where there is a long way from the shop floor to the boardroom from a geographical, educational and values perspective. Not least if employees perceive the purpose of the innovation as a cost-saving exercise or efficiency drive which is ultimately intended to phase out their tasks.
If digital innovation is to succeed, employees must not only be adaptable, but fully equipped with the right skills, the right tools, and the right support. This applies both to the Line of Business, where it can be worth raising the IT skill levels of employees; and to the IT department, which can be given a stronger understanding of the business processes they have to work with. We call this digital empowerment.
Here, NNIT's Expectation Barometer, which in 2019 focuses on Digital at Scale, reveals that there is room for improvement.
On a scale of 1-10, the respondents rate the employees' degree of empowerment at 5.8, while 69% especially highlight employee skill levels as an obstacle to progress.
- It is clear that the employees need to be given the necessary skills if they are to take innovation projects fully on board and also ensure that these are embedded into the organization, emphasizes Brian Troelsen.
Hand in hand with this boost in skills goes the removal of the zero-error culture; something which still characterizes many organizations. It is virtually impossible for employees to take advantage of - and perhaps even develop - new technologies and digital projects if they work in a culture where they are afraid to fail.
Again, it is crucial that the management not only make it clear that it is okay to fail, but also lead the way and act in the same manner. Here, the Barometer Analysis indicates a challenge, as employees, to a lesser degree than managers, indicate that their organization has a fail-safe culture.
– If employees are afraid to fail, it can be a huge challenge to roll out digital initiatives. So it is my hope that managers in organizations dare to prioritize clear and continuous communication to highlight the value of the new digital strategy. This plays a significant role if you want to succeed in your digital scaling, says Brian Troelsen.
Management can develop strategies and announce: "we are now going digital", but if this intention is not embedded into the culture, organizations will find it difficult to turn good initiatives into good business. This is why the entire cultural and organizational structure needs a thorough overhaul - and this overhaul should be both concrete and visible for employees.
If the organization is to succeed in changing its culture, it requires more than just a half-hour workshop. Culture, and not least the goals in changing a culture, requires sustained and visible leadership. The digital venture should be communicated very clearly all the way down to the individual department. This means all middle managers need to be given the tools to carry the digital mindset into the organization and explain what it actually means for the individual employee's tasks. Is every manager actively encouraging their employees to think and work digitally - or is it just business as usual?
- The culture of digital scalability is the sum of many small efforts. A manifesto issued from top management is not enough, because this is often seen as words and not action for the individual employee. Culture and common understanding can best be influenced through concrete, structural changes that make the individual aware that things are really changing, says Brian Troelsen.
There are many ways of adjusting your processes to more visibly highlight the focus on digital innovation. This could involve creating internal innovation units, redesigning workspaces, or introducing incentive models to reward employees at all levels if they find new ways to do things or succeed in rolling out digital initiatives. Basically, it is up to the management to make it clear that there is a new, digital direction for the organization - and that everyone needs to be on board.
This year's Expectation Barometer delves into the opportunities awaiting Danish and international companies, and their readiness to scale their digital initiatives. What differences are there? Where are they? And what does it require - strategically, technologically and organizationally - to scale such digital initiatives? We call this Digital at Scale.
Try out the Expectation Barometer and find out what stage your company is at in digital scaling - and get your own personalized Benchmark Map. You also gain access to a series of articles on a number of leading CIOs and their experiences and challenges in digital scaling.
This year's Expectation Barometer delves into the opportunities awaiting Danish and international companies, and their readiness to scale their digital initiatives. What differences are there? And where? And what does it require - strategically, technologically and organizationally - to scale such digital
initiatives? We call this Digital at Scale.
Fill out the form below to download the report, and read more about the results and the other CIO articles.