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Digital transformation: time to face the fear 

08/01/2018

If you’re starting the new year aware that your organisation is in need of an IT upgrade, you aren’t alone. But it’s all too easy to put it off until next month…. Then the month after that. At City Dynamics, we read Microsoft’s recent Creating Cultures report with interest, because it sheds some light on the roadblocks that exist in organisations facing the challenge of digital transformation.

Based on research conducted last year, the report reveals nearly half (44%) of UK leaders surveyed believe their business model will cease to exist within 5 years. This anxiety that can impact on organisations in one of two ways. For the more enlightened business leader, it’s a huge incentive to embrace digital advances, upgrading business processes and drawing on the pathways, insights and new services opened up with more intelligent, integrated technology. For the over-burdened leader stuck in the trenches and focused on the daily challenge of keeping afloat, there’s a danger to resist cultural and technological change. Although such resistance is motivated by the desire to protect their business, in our fast-changing climate, failure to evolve is deadly.

At City Dynamics, we know from experience that implementing a major digital change to your business brings with it a unique host of challenges within any business.  Whether you’re moving from an on-premise system to the cloud or upgrading an old ERP system that has served you for ten years, you need to feel confident that training and implementation will proactively manage the anxieties that exist within your team.

There are some issues that get raised regularly with our clients, and these were echoed in Microsoft’s recent report, which drew on the insights of 1,003 leaders across the UK. It identifies the most common issues raised by business leaders around digital transformation.

INSIGHT #1:  49% of leaders say employees express fear of change in the face of digital transformation

Fear of change is natural and the prospect of embracing a new system, of learning how to use it and uploading data onto a new platform, can feel daunting.  This is why messaging and communication within an organisation is key when any new system or major upgrade is announced. As part of the communication, staff need a forum to voice their fears and have them answered. At City Dynamics, we help our clients strike the right balance, approaching our client onboarding and training with sensitivity to take account of staff concerns.

INSIGHT #2: Of the companies surveyed, current organisational practices consisted of 23% of tasks that could be substituted by automation, 36% of tasks that would benefit from augmentation and 64% of tasks that could only be performed by a human.

Today, any mention of ‘digital transformation’ within an organisation is met with a sharp intake of breath. For many, there will be a voice inside their head whispering that their job could be at risk. But there is a huge upside to automation. First and foremost, it has the power to make existing jobs far more interesting, as humans are freed up from the mindless aspects of their job to use their brain to solve more interesting and rewarding problems. As part of the onboarding process, City Dynamics’ support staff make sure they demo the most exciting and innovative aspects of a new system, showing your team how the new software will make their job easier and more interesting.

INSIGHT #3: A third (31%) of 18-24-year olds see the benefit in augmentation, whilst only 26% of the over 55s shared the view.

This is a cultural problem for most organisations. It’s hardly surprising that digital natives are less intimidated by the idea of technical augmentation of their job, and that older employees are warier. Any software partner needs to take account of the difference of perspective within a client’s team and take special measures to reassure older and less IT literate members of staff. These team members may require a slightly more focused training, but this should be viewed as a necessary investment in the success of the project.

INSIGHT #4: 23% of UK leaders surveyed admit they are cautious about investing in large-scale technology projects due to the current political climate.

With huge uncertainty as Brexit looms on the horizon and the economy looks shaky, it can seem like an inconvenient time to invest a chunk of the budget in a systems upgrade. But it’s an investment with many potential benefits. Chief among these is the potential for growth offered by moving to cloud-based systems. In a survey conducted this year by Forbes, it was projected that cloud computing is set to see massive growth in profits. The industry is predicted to reach a global worth of $162 Billion by 2020, a compound growth rate of 19%. If you haven’t moved to a cloud-based system, it’s time to ask yourself why, and when.

INSIGHT #5: 45% agree that IT decisions are often made by people who don’t understand employee or customer needs.

When it comes to embracing IT-related decisions or integrating new systems into the company’s procedures, senior decision makers needed to give the go-ahead are often lacking in understanding of both employee and customer needs. At City Dynamics, our sales team often find their contacts have little understanding of the obstacles and difficulties faced by their employees and colleagues, leaving them with a minimal appreciation of the benefits which Dynamics 365 can provide. This stonewalling can lead to companies which could greatly benefit from upgrading to Dynamics 365 missing out.

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