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Opinion: For Digital Transformation Success, Focus on Customers and Employees

Information Management – by Geeta Kirschner, EPAM Continuum

This op-ed is an adaption of a longer EPAM Continuum report

Spending for digital transformation will approach $2 trillion by 2022 according to IDC, and Gartner found that digital transformation was a top-three strategic priority in 11 out of 15 industries last year.

But although it promises new ways to innovate and stay ahead of the competition, misplaced investments that lack a strong focus on people (customers and employees) often cause digital transformation efforts to fizzle.

Investing in digital is futile if you aren’t capable of transformation, which requires adopting new ways of working and embracing new values. We identified four key capabilities – two centered on process and two on employee experience – that are transformative to corporate culture and achieving successful digital transformation.

Focus on process

Capability 1 – Understanding how customers and users behave – and why – is essential to innovation. Having a holistic research strategy and process that combines qualitative (human) data with quantitative data makes obtaining this information easier. Repeatable success requires knowing one’s customers, and that’s impossible with numbers alone. Organizations are investing in ways to conduct remote and in-person research, and enabling various departments in creating human-centric experiences continuously.

Some companies have even forged their own tools for capturing, organizing and disseminating insights internally. Businesses that have a comprehensive strategy for understanding their customers and disseminating learnings are uncovering rich insights that have a powerful effect of everything from product and service strategy to UX implementation.

Capability 2 – For many companies, innovation in development and operations is thriving. These departments use DevOps to streamline building and ship the right offerings, but software development has moved beyond DevOps to become more robust. DataOps embeds data engineers and scientists at DevOps teams to support the organization’s data analytics needs and DesignOps allows design, product and engineering to continuously iterate.

From DataOps to DesignOps, many leading organizations are reducing friction between disciplines to create, launch and scale products and services. Organizations that shift to this new mindset are seeing the dual benefit of increased customer satisfaction and internal teamwork.

Focus on employee experience

Capability 3 – In an age when incessant collaboration is expected, some companies are helping employees learn the art of focus. Wise companies are using research to create spaces and tech that allow both introverts and extroverts to think deeply and collaborate effectively.

Because burnout is a concern, companies are limiting the number of initiatives employees work on at any given time. This way, employees aren’t overloaded, improving employee experience and morale. From using the physical space and tools to work-in-progress limits, companies are designing focus into employees’ day to achieve sustainable productivity.

Capability 4 – The most self-aware companies give their employees freedom and flexibility. These organizations cultivate employee empowerment and give workers ample opportunities to offer feedback, and it pays dividends in retention.

Employee engagement and companies’ bottom lines are rising simultaneously because organizations are applying these approaches together to increase employee trust. When employees feel cared about, their happiness increases, as does the likelihood that they’ll stay, grow and contribute meaningfully.

Transformation made real

Companies that can orchestrate all four of these capabilities at once will accelerate their digital transformation efforts. Here’s where to start:

  1. Determine if your organization regularly collects a good balance of qualitative and quantitative data to provide the right insights. Establish ways to reach and learn from customers in context. Share research insights across the organization to build customer understanding. 
  2. Cut across silos by forming cross-functional, ops-oriented teams that can create, launch, scale, and sustain products and services. Protect teams that create and launch new offerings to try new things. Empower teams to include user research and design disciplines to ensure customer experience is at the core. 
  3. Take stock of your current workplace and what leads to focus. Empathize with employees on what creates focus for them. Design and implement flexible, comfortable and inclusive solutions.
  4. Review the company culture and values for employee empowerment. Understand, by doing user research, how employees want to be treated. Create ways to make swift changes to company culture to increase employee engagement and retention. 

Truly forward-thinking organizations understand the close relationship between good employee experience and good customer experience. Committing to both, at the same time, is essential for those businesses interested in transformation, and ultimately, market success.

Geeta Kirschner

Geeta Kirschner is a senior innovation capability strategist at EPAM Continuum.

The original article can be found here.