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Driving digital transformation

  • 5 Min. Read
  • Article

A changing world

“Technology presents both positives and negatives for business,” says Roland. “On the positive side, it has the potential to drive businesses forward and we’re seeing businesses refreshing their digital offerings to fuel that as a sales channel, adopting the Internet of Things to enable remote monitoring, meeting growing customer preferences for self-service, and tackling many of the pressing issues around ESG. On the negative side, there’s obviously the risk of cybercrime, although that can be mitigated by good processes and human behaviour, there’s change risk for those businesses that don’t continue to evolve, and there’s also conversely an ESG risk for those without a clear strategy.”

Many of the changes we’ve seen accelerated by the pandemic were actually happening anyway, and momentum is continuing to build says Humphrey. “From both the provision of digital and technology services to customer behaviour we’re seeing acceleration. As many of the barriers to entry are being reduced, competitive pressure on businesses to innovate will grow.”

Access to data is now a key business priority alongside metrics such as measuring revenue and profitability, says Humphrey. “We’ve seen a huge shift in the digital literacy of our clients. They now see data as key to understanding their end consumer and responding to their needs with greater agility, and also understanding how they can realise value from their investments.”

It’s about understanding where technology can add value and communicating that effectively to all stakeholders. Show the results of any changes and shout about the early wins to build momentum behind your change projects.

Humphrey Rose | Category Director at the Hut Group Ingenuity

Making technology work for your business

“As we emerge into the opportunity phase of the crisis,” Roland explains, “there are three types of business: those that are tech driven, firms that are tech enabled and those that are failing to keep pace and will struggle in the future as their customer expectations change and grow.”

But he acknowledges that digital transformation, especially if businesses are moving from old legacy systems to new flexible cloud-enabled solutions, can be tough. “It’s a sad fact that 70% of digital transformations fail to deliver around half of the benefits forecast,” he says. “And the reasons are two-fold: processes have failed to change to adapt to the new technology or the culture of the business has not been factored in and people see the new technology as a threat and fail to engage.”

“It’s about understanding where technology can add value and communicating that effectively to all stakeholders,” agrees Humphrey. “Show the results of any changes and shout about the early wins to build momentum behind your change projects.”

Roland shares his tips for helping businesses choose the technology they need and maximise the benefits it offers:

  • Think about your pain point – what is the issue you’re trying to solve?
  • Look around for different options for addressing that – an online search is a great start.
  • Once you’ve identified potential solutions, interrogate why you’re investing in this, what do you want to achieve, and is technology the right way to do it?
  • Once you’ve identified the right solution, in order to maximise the benefits you need to:
    • Integrate the solution carefully and fully
    • Understand any process changes that are needed to accommodate the new technology
    • Bring people with you on the journey – help your team see the benefits of the technology rather than seeing it as a threat.

Try different solutions and remember you don’t have to develop capability yourself, there are options to rent capability from the hyperscalers and see how it works for you.

Roland Emmans | Head of Tech Sector at HSBC UK

Staying ahead of the curve

“If you’re not borderline uncomfortable in how far you’re pushing innovation, you’re probably not doing enough,” says Humphrey, in explaining why businesses need to keep moving and evolving.

Scanning the environment is essential to identify where technology could offer opportunities but also to identify where it poses a threat to your business. “Keeping an eye on what’s happening, not just in your sector, but in aligned sectors can help you see how your peers are evolving and also where other businesses have used solutions you could adapt or indeed where they might see a chance to move into your space,” says Roland.

Using your ecosystem as your ear to the ground is a great way of keeping pace, he continues. “Most of the time your staff will know the challenges in your business and will have thought about the answers, so listen to them, then talk to your customers to see if those solutions meet their expectations, and engage with your suppliers too, because they’ll know what’s happening in other parts of the market.”

Both Roland and Humphrey stress the importance of trying solutions. “The worst thing you can do is stay still,” says Roland. “Try different solutions and remember you don’t have to develop capability yourself, there are options to rent capability from the hyperscalers and see how it works for you. “

Humphrey agrees. “Decisions are less long-term and investment heavy because costs are coming down and technology is evolving quickly, so all that reduces the risk of acting, but it also increases the risk of doing nothing.”

The future of work

Nicola describes the pandemic as a “massive remote-working experiment” that has proved that a lot of work can be done outside the traditional office environment. As we move forward, it’s about rethinking our approach to work. “If we see offices as a social, collaboration and community space, then having banks of desks doesn’t work, so we need to reconsider physical spaces. The 9-5 doesn’t make as much sense and we need to think about ways to switch off and to enable people to redefine boundaries. We need to re-think meetings themselves and look at different ways of communicating. And we need to be able to measure productivity in this new environment, because that remains a priority.” Overall, she says, “we need to look at how we measure and design work to work for people”.

Technology she says, can enable solutions to many of those issues that support both employee and customer experience and maintain or increase productivity. Whilst automation hasn’t played a significant part in the pandemic, she says, there’s no doubt that it will become increasingly important in the way we work in the future. “Businesses need to understand that humans and machines have different strengths. Machines are analytical, they can process large amounts of data and they can follow rules. Humans are more creative, chaotic. Working together they can be amazing.”

As Roland concludes: “Let the machines do the ordinary and let humans do the extraordinary.”

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