How do companies, labor organizations, and even economists respond to the challenge of restarting productivity growth in a booming digital age? As the emergence of new technologies are becoming more advanced and common to the average user, it is vital that every office takes the steps to including more digitalization in their operations with the goal of undergoing a complete digital transformation.Offices that are investing in digital strategies are showcasing a significant boost in productivity through revenue growth and returns on investment. Simply adopting digital practices isn’t enough to win- undergoing a complete digital transformation, however, will keep your employees relevant and productive enough to survive in today’s economy. It’s not a choice- businesses must learn how to apply digital strategies to remain at the forefront of the industry. It is time to embrace digitalization more than ever before because, frankly, our economy depends on it.
Digital-savvy CFOs and CIOs realize that efforts to transform customer-facing systems and processes are limited without equally effective and integrated back-office operations. That digital integration is essential to make key data, such as logistics, product availability, quality, and financials, and intelligence residing in the core accessible to customer-centric operations. This is why digital transformation at the core is taking matters behind the consumer-based operations and starting from ground 0- reinventing the back office.
Now, integrating business functions and the core is a starting point, but it only scrapes the surface of the opportunities digital transformation will pose. Although it’s easy to get tunnel vision and think in terms of temporary solutions for businesses to continue to operate, over the next 18 to 24 months, CFOs, CIOs and supply chain leaders will begin developing new digital capabilities in their core systems—and not ‘just for now’, but permanently. They will begin building a new core, fundamentally changing how work gets done.
In the near future, leaders will target core business areas such as finance and supply networks. They will shift their focus from discrete tasks or individual tools to broadening their business’s digital technologies capabilities. One example of a company that has successfully utilized technology is Blockchain’s distributed ledger, which has promising implications for trade finance, supply chain validation processes, and other areas. As other companies begin their core transformations, it will be vital to understand how individual innovations can work in concert with existing capabilities to drive business value.
Some companies have already successfully implemented total digital transformation and are thriving because of it. But not all businesses are as tech-savvy or well established enough to take the plunge. How can your office stay relevant and embrace digitization? Let’s take a look.
1. Incorporate Cloud-Based Technologies
We’ve all heard of The Cloud, right? That thing that stores and analyzes all our super important, secretive company data? If you’re still wondering what exactly The Cloud is, it’s not quite as airy as its title makes it sound- in fact it’s pretty dense. That show you’ve been binge watching on Netflix and that text message you just received on your phone probably both came through a cloud. We all already use cloud-based systems in our everyday lives, so if your company isn’t already utilizing cloud-based technologies, you’re already behind the times.
When it comes to all the capabilities of The Cloud and how it can digitally transform your business to improve efficiency and effectibility, the sky is really the limit. Companies see widely talked about technologies - like the cloud- and think it will be easy to implement and see big benefits immediately.
Plain and simple, it’s just not that straightforward. Some processes are tough to improve and reaping the benefits from emerging technology will take work. However, cloud hosting is now well established. As such, the cloud represents a logical first step towards digital transformation.
By embracing the cloud, your business can modernize its IT infrastructure, create in-built security and focus on how it might serve customers digitally in new ways. Rather than fretting about ambiguous big data, your business needs to turn first to the cloud. With a modern, open approach to technology, your firm can start to think how it can use technology to improve its operations, processes and services.
If your business wants to embrace mobile applications, for example, then you need to create a secure platform that makes it easy for your business to update services as business and customer requirements change. Your business must then start thinking about digitization via the cloud.
2. "Upskilling" and Specialized Training
Digitization will impact both high-skill and low-skill jobs yet will create more in the long run for us all. However, digital natives will be the majority; those that have the skills necessary to perform these positions. To increase your productivity at ground zero, you need to begin "upskilling" your current workforce and implementing specialized training.
As Scott Smith of AT&T puts it, “You can go out to the street and hire for the skills, but we all know that the supply of technical talent is limited…” As employers today know, every business is chasing after the technical-savvy students who are out looking for work. In today’s digital society, it’s tempting to grab the employees who already have knowledge and skill sets in the digital arena. AT&T has debunked this approach, however, with a 40% reduction in its product development lifecycle which it attributes to successfully up-skilling their current workforce.
Now, let’s get specific. With your job, you don’t have time to waste on doing other people’s jobs or helping them with every nitty gritty IT problem they run into. You need to upskill a workforce that will allow you to be your most productive self, operating at top notch efficiency. To do this smartly, here are three ways you can upskill a productive workforce:
- Think Small
Giving your employees large workloads and tight-packed schedules will be an obstacle during training. Thinking small and being flexible, however, will show your employees you are willing to meet in the middle.
Microlearning consists of distributing mini lessons—roughly three to six minutes long—designed to achieve a specific objective. Unlike other online training, microlearning can help increase retention rates and keep your employees engaged.
This approach will be especially beneficial for remote workers, because bite-sized modules are far easier to host online and share. This further increases accessibility for deskless employees. Businesses can easily migrate learning content onto a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that can be accessed anywhere.
- Provide Mentors
Mentorship opportunities are especially effective when employees are about to adopt a more senior role. More experienced team members can encourage mentees and provide guidance as they take on a new position.
Keep in mind that those who have the most experience to share often have the tightest schedules. With this being said, you must highlight the importance of mentors and the benefit they will have on the overall future of the business.
- Encourage Self-Training
To further increase productivity and efficiency at all levels of employment within the office, managers can ask their direct reports about what skills they want to work on and improve to do their job better.
You should also encourage employees to create their own learning paths by removing obstacles and promoting incentives. Some ways managers can do this are by:
Allocating paid training time. This option is more viable if your business is seasonal or has predictable ebbs and flows. Employees can use slow periods to upskill.
- Reward employees who upskill in their own time. By doing so, your team stays curious, management has more opportunities to promote from within, and you lessen the risk of losing talent to another company.
- Allow employees the flexibility to attend workshops and seminars during work hours. Not only does this build employee-employer trust, but it also allows the rest of your team to gain insights and learn ideas they may have missed if they were limited to after-hours classes or training.
- Allocating paid training time. This option is more viable if your business is seasonal or has predictable ebbs and flows. Employees can use slow periods to upskill.
3. Use a Different Strategy
How do businesses overcome the challenge of revamping productivity growth in a digital age? Companies will need to develop a productivity strategy that includes the digital transformation of their business model. Every internal change that must be made, every training strategy implemented, and move towards digitization is part of a total digital transformation.
When businesses place all their focus on their digital strategy and change their corporate strategies accordingly, they end up winning in the long-run. Studies find that more than twice as many leading companies closely tie their digital and corporate strategies than don’t.
Businesses that are investing in digital transformation by changing their strategy are boosting their productivity through revenue growth and return on digital investment. In fact, 49 percent of leading companies, in revenue growth, EBIT growth and digital investment, are investing in digital more than their counterparts do.
With a digital transformation strategy, strong levels of digital diffusion and upskilling of the workforce, your productivity will skyrocket. It is time now to embrace digitization more than ever, from the top down. It’s time to kickstart the economy.
4. Move Fast
As a business just starting out on the digitization front, participating in a traditional IT-intensive program that only delivers a return only at the end of the project, is probably unappealing. Digitizing end-to-end processes one by one, however, can deliver improved performance in a fairly short period of time. Certain IT challenges can be harder to move along, but there are ways to reduce the risks of delay. For example, one industrial company pursuing an IT legacy-systems integration used low-cost offshore resources to rekey data among systems, allowing a new digital customer process to be brought online for use with pilot customers while a robust IT interface was built in parallel. This approach reduced the risk involved with the integration effort and accelerated payback.
Moving quickly isn’t always easy. More often than not, it’s business decision making that typically slows the course of operations, not IT development. That’s why all decisions should be delegated to the project team so digitization can propel business operations forward at a quick pace.
5. Embrace Innovation
Did you know that 40% of US healthcare consumers now use digital technologies in all aspects of their daily lives?
As an industry, the healthcare sector is not as up to the times as are retail and tourism when it comes to digital innovation. This doesn’t stop major healthcare brands from chasing after a new transformation, however. A new IDC report suggests that digital transformation initiatives in healthcare account for 30% of all innovations, including personalized medicine, telemedicine and M-Health developments. Healthcare businesses are aware of what they are lacking, and are making up for it. Now, it’s your turn.
Aware of the benefits that digital innovation can provide, Pfizer collaborated with tech company IBM to launch a cutting-edge research project that dealt with Parkinson’s disease.
By learning and embracing IBM’s technology capabilities, the pharmaceutical company plans to install a system of sensors and mobile devices to provide doctors and researchers with critical disease symptom information to find valuable connections between symports as well other clinical data.
Not only will this be likely to revolutionize the field, but it is also a testament to the fact that if embraced, digital technologies have the power to change the world in a positive way.