People are the Centre of Digital Transformation

The recent pandemic has forced us to redesign how we navigate day-to-day living and reshape the way we work and carry-out business. Of the things we have changed, adapted, reimagined, we now need to consider if this is going to serve us into the future. Digital transformation is a continual evolution. As the world evolves and transforms, we need to understand how these changes impact us, as individuals and as a business. The essence of getting it right is to be sure we design our digital strategies in the service of people. This includes all humans who interact with us, whether employee, colleague, client, shareholder, or the local community. All business decisions and strategic thinking needs to stem from a real understanding of the human touchpoints within our ecosystem. Business resilience relies on it.

The “digital” in digital transformation is only one part of a more complex strategy. Digital transformation starts with people. It encompasses the whole of the business and takes on-board values, mindsets and human interaction. This is what leads the design and innovation of new or modified business practices, processes, culture, customer experiences, etc.

People need to be at the heart of our decision-making. After all, it is people who change, adapt, and innovate, not the technology. Digital transformation aligns human activity with digital intelligence, where the technology serves as the tool of support. Business models, methodologies and processes are born out of the connection to human activity. If we create a process for the sake of process it will most likely fail. If we create a process aligned to human need, the process will serve its purpose more effectively.

We can’t be led by technology, no matter how shiny or leading edge. The risk is high if we implement digital solutions without understanding how technology serves and enables the people who will interact with it. Ultimately, we are solving human problems. In order to be sure that we are developing solutions that indeed do this, we need to understand the humans in our ecosystem.

Many different methods help provide this insight. Frameworks such as design thinking or human-centred design explore opportunity within a complex problem space. These frameworks help to identify personas and pain points. They also map human journeys—embracing an empathic mindset, immersing in ambiguity, busting assumptions, and testing beliefs. They aim to centre around the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process. It helps to provide a lens into understanding our employees, our customers, and our providers more comprehensively.

As a business, we need to continually ask,

  • Are we genuinely serving those we are ultimately in service of?
  • Are we proactively listening to their needs?
  • Do we have a genuine understanding of who they are?
  • Do we understand how they need to, and want to, interact with us?

With this understanding, we can ensure we are in a place to make informed decisions that ultimately solve genuine business problems—because we’ve catered to real human need.

Over the past months, we have witnessed significant disruption and a great weight of uncertainty in varied ways. Many of us were forced to adopt certain practices out of necessity, rapidly and without a considerable amount of time to assess all factors. This is an opportune time to explore new ways of thinking and reimagine what can be possible. The call to action is to look beyond the immediate need.

Being able to see opportunities within this complex uncertainty will help set us up for the future. It’s about understanding what will continue to serve us and what won’t. It is an iterative process. We need to embrace change, make a commitment to the humans in our network, adopt a willingness to try, prototype ideas, and accept failures. This will lead us to learn, grow, and move forward.

A company needs to be willing to continually evolve every aspect of its business over time in a whole series of pivots."
—Omar Abbosh, Chief Executive of Communications, Media & Technology, Accenture

 

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