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[ARTICLE] 8 Key Messages from the European Online Digital Transformation Conference

Sam Button, Head of Growth, Roar Media

The European Online Digital Transformation Conference took place on October 7-8 with presentations, interviews & panel sessions delivered live, taking questions from our audience for each of our speakers to provide insights into digital strategy & innovation through the pandemic & beyond.

Expert speakers for the event included the former Head of Business Innovation at IKEA Group, Director of Corporate Strategy at Condé Nast, Interim Chief Digital & Product Officer at Natural History Museum, Digital Transformation Leader at AstraZeneca & many more.

A range of topics were discussed across the two-day online summit, we have chosen 8 key takeaways from the event which were positioned as most vital to the business world right now and digital innovation.

  1. Covid-19 accelerated digital transformation & the uptake of digital tools & technologies

The pandemic has had a disastrous & lasting effect on both consumers and the workforce. As digital technologists we strive to be truly agile and almost instantaneously adaptive, to forge further trust and improve both customer experience & employee engagement. We have been thrust into a world where digital delivery & products are more important than ever, simultaneously the need for digital tools supporting remote work has been huge. This has led to a rapid rise in digitally transformed services and tools to enhance the digital workplace & collaboration.

Whilst the importance of getting these to your staff quickly is high, it is paramount the correct technologies are available for the task and that training & support is available to all. This recent rise in the workforce gaining proficiency due to the need of using these technologies simultaneously leads to a more digital mindset & company culture.

  • Employee Experience is more important than ever

Employee experience has always been an important factor in productivity and company growth, company culture is also seen as a vital factor in an organisations talent acquisition capability and finding the correct people to drive the company forward. Moving to a completely remote working environment places even further importance on employee engagement, without communal space & meetings to reaffirm company goals, provide motivation & a safe space to share ideas & issues.

Ensuring employees feel part of the team becomes more challenging, technology is a great start by increasing the ease of communication & collaboration, however, a human effort is required to ensure each employee feels a vital part of the organisation.  

  • Support people not just with tools but also with human experience of remote work

Ensuring employees feel part of the team becomes more challenging, technology is a great start by increasing the ease of communication & collaboration, however, a human effort is required to ensure each employee feels a vital part of the organisation. 

Having meetings which are based solely around the social aspect of work has been extremely beneficial in addition to embracing the challenge of working from home with tales of pets, children, partners etc. It is important these initiatives are led by senior management and be consistent throughout the organisation ensuring trust, reliability and being comfortable with being vulnerable.

Regular feedback through forms & one-to-one meetings helps people feel part of the company strategy & direction. Anonymous feedback can also lead to great insight as not all employees will feel included & happy to share as part of a group for fear of judgement.

  • Be mindful of the wellness of your team, this can be much harder to manage on an individual level whilst remote and needs promoting from the top level and throughout

Mindfulness & wellness should be key offerings for every company, these again are something that is now vitally important to promote and provide provision for self- practicing.

Organising training sessions to enlighten employees with techniques to avoid burnout and being over-loaded with work can be a great way to energise the workforce and act as social event to improve communication & wellbeing.

You can also host your own refresher sessions with simple advice to improve individual’s own working patterns for the benefit of their own wellness. Recommended techniques included:

30 second breaks – Take a break for 30 seconds, take a deep breath or stand up/move around. You can also do the 20:20:20 trick, after 20 minutes of work you look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

5-minute trick – Do something else for 5 minutes, get creative, draw something for example to switch the channels in your brain.

Long term wellbeing – Exercise, sleep, eat, take part in fun and games.

  • Business strategy & IT have to find better synergy and focus on the common goal

It is clear agile companies have coped much better with the pandemic whilst others were slower to react and proactively work in the interests of the customer. Establishing a company-wide agile mindset supports business units individually and the organisation holistically, however, many of our technologists highlight conflicts and the difficulty in bridging the gap between business strategy & IT.

Both should be customer centric in order to harmonise and support one another. Putting the customer first enables a clearer vision, it can also be beneficial to educate the company as a whole when going through business transformation. Empathy between business units and an understanding of the processes important to them allows for a more understanding viewpoint from all.

Companies are always looking for continuous improvement & innovation but this should be driven in unison with all departments understanding the goal, ambition & respecting the journey and their part within.

  • Customer needs are adapting

Over recent years the frequency of change within consumer behaviour has been accelerating at an unprecedented rate. The advent of new technologies has led to increased expectations of how services are delivered as well as being kept fresh & updated. The battleground for customer experience excellence is constantly changing but it is clear that customer feedback is more important than keeping an eye on the activities of competitors.

Establishing areas where technology can help serve customer’s needs better, quicker and more accurately can be a minefield. The strategizing of this should include significant input from your customer base, employees and user groups. Testing a prototype with a group of customers and receiving feedback is also a great way to understand if this innovation is something customers will utilise and appreciate.

We shouldn’t be afraid of change but embrace it, using data, employees and customer feedback to build flexibility within products and touchpoints. Servicing customers in a different way due to Covid-19 is a great example of how we can launch products quickly & successfully if designed for the needs of the customer base.

  • Stay ahead of the curve with emerging technologies but don’t look to experiment too much without proof of concept

Innovation hubs are vitally important to business, offering an experimental but data driven outside-in innovation & co-creation. However, deciding on the right technologies to propel your business can be difficult. From the event it is clear that experimentation, testing & iteration are intrinsically aligned to innovation.

When deciding on technologies to utilise, proper research should take place both within your customer base and within organisations within your sector, but the most important aspect is that the new technology is solving a customer requirement. If you build for your customers, it is important to test with a small group before launching the product or service.

Don’t get lost in buzzwords or the latest technology, see how other organisations are innovating through technology and understand if this is something that could provide significant increases in customer satisfaction for your customer base. 

  • Quick fixes can be adapted or evolve into long-term strategy

Given the acceleration within digital transformation and so much having happened in 2020, it is important to take stock and analyse innovations & requirements. The start of the pandemic involved many companies looking to put out fires rather than truly innovate, however, rapid deployment of hardware & digital tools has been beneficial. It is important to evaluate the performance of your IT, security & digital workplace.

Recent innovations and the willingness for companies to allow additional expenditure of both resources and budget leaves many companies with a major opportunity to secure a long-term digital strategy of innovation leaning on the increased importance of digital business, digital workplace & delivery.

For a deeper dive into the topics discussed with expert insight from our brilliant industry speakers, keep an eye out for articles on each presentation over the coming weeks.

You can view all presentations OnDemand here

We also still have limited free spaces remaining at our Digital Transformation Conference APAC on November 25.

Presenters for The Digital Transformation European Conference, October 7-8 included:

Mercedes Vidal Lobato, Former Global Digital Director, Clarks & Head of Business Innovation, Ikea

Estelle Ayer, Director, Corporate Strategy, Condé Nast

Laurentiu Vasile, Regional Digital Transformation Head, Asahi Breweries

Sedef Gavas, Interim Chief Digital & Product Officer, Natural History Museum

Bonnie Cheuk, Senior Business & Digital Transformation Leader, AstraZeneca

Hartmut Hahn, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, Userlane

Jyoti Sharma, Growth Executive, EY

Byron Flores, Global Head of Digital Finance, Data & Tools, Novartis

Nick King, Insight Director, AutoTrader

Ric Van Westhreenen, Product Owner – Digital Workspace, T-Mobile

We are also delighted to announce our first digital event of 2021 which will be hosted on European time and focus on innovation within the digital workplace, remote working and the future of work/end user computing. The first 1,000 passes for this online event are available here –

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