Sam Button, Head of Growth, Roar Media
The vast amount of digital transformation projects that were accelerated and pushed forward last year were implemented as a necessity. The business world survived on digital workplaces, with innovations rapidly rolled out to provide employees with the systems they need to access in order to work remotely, relying on technology teams to have an ecosystem in place that was quickly built upon for connectivity & collaboration. Without years of digital transformation preceding 2020, businesses would have significantly struggled to provide a way for their employees to work, leading to them being unable to service customers.
As digital executives, the past 10 months have been challenging but with corporations giving more power and funds to digital projects, it has also been an exciting time for digital innovations in most companies. The demand for improvements, new services and radical transformations has been high and the turn of the year gives the opportunity to evaluate the most promising areas of focus for increased productivity & efficiency. However, there is also a need to future proof all innovations both from a strategic and implementation level.
Digital Response to the Pandemic
If we look back to last January, articles on digital innovation were fairly similar to how they have been for the past few years, focussing on Emerging Technologies, Cloud Computing, Digital Workplace etc. However, the challenges which faced businesses last year were unprecedented and unexpected. Yet, despite the uniqueness of these unforeseen circumstances companies were able to flex their digital muscle, in many cases utilising years of strategic planning to enable a remote workforce overnight. Other organisations had to rely on their digital partners to quickly provide a solution to provide their employees with the tools necessary to maintain productivity and customer experience.
For most, the digital response to the pandemic was swift as it was underpinned by capabilities implemented within the digital workplace over a number of years. However, the demands of a workforce with a higher percentage of the employees being remote than in offices, were vastly different from the requirements which digital workplace environments were constructed for. Suddenly, vast improvements were needed to be rolled out based on the need uncovered by the employees being plunged into this forced experiment. Digital teams were working round the clock and innovation was at an all time high with new internal digital products, systems and applications; designed, tested and implemented at a rapid rate.
It feels appropriate to theorise that many digital teams goals at the start of 2020 were pushed almost entirely to the backburner, due to the demands from the business to restore functionality, productivity and efficiency to an unexpected remote working environment. Therefore, whilst innovation over the last 12 months has been rapid and digital teams should be immensely proud with the advancements which have been made to ensure business continuity, many of these improvements were unplanned and aligned to upkeep rather than technology to propel the business forward.
With that being said, a number of innovations implemented last year as a reaction to the new working environment will be incredibly beneficial to the business in the long term and would likely never have been uncovered if it wasn’t for the vast move to remote working. However, after consolidating the response and celebrating the success of the digital workplace towards the end of last year; now is a great time to look ahead to harnessing the power of technology to stand out in 2021 by championing employee experience, connectivity and customer satisfaction.
What is the Focus of Digital Transformation in 2021?
Largely, this question can only be answered with internal research of employees, system usage, customer expectations and data. Thus being very different and individual to each company even at a very regional level. However, now that the digital workplace has been established as a business critical environment, innovation within this area is likely to be high on the desires of the business for the coming year, in order to future proof the business and excel in both employee engagement and customer experience.
With regards to future proofing, assessment of how secure your workplace is at every entry point may well be required and governance of this will need to be centrally managed by the IT team. Penetration testing is likely to reveal the move to a remote workforce uncovered gaps within your cybersecurity and information assurance, the only way to keep all devices, connections and applications secure is through centrally managed permissions and policy updates. Technology can negate and remove the risk of unauthorised access through two-factor authentication and zero trust security.
Accepting a distributed workforce is here to stay, will pave the way for automation within an organisation being very beneficial and time saving, enabling higher efficiency. Having tasks performed by machines will provide increased resources to focus on better customer experience. There are many occurrences within every enterprise where automation of simple tasks can lead to massive savings in time, it is important to assess where these implementations can really benefit your employees.
Internal Digital Experiences
Your workers will also benefit from attention to detail within your own internal communications and will evolve into hosting internal digital experiences for your employees. Design teams in many organisations will already be moving tasks towards improving the digital workplace and providing employees with digital innovation at the same importance as they seek improvements in customer experience.
Whilst a large amount of digital transformation will be focused on the digital workplace and ensuring the future of work is employee centred by design & innovation is inline with customer experience. Ever changing consumer behavior will require technology for the customer to feel supported at all access points, digital teams will have to constantly access their customer journey map and re-imagine this due to the changing nature of the world. This support will require a cross functional team approach with user experience, digital & design all partaking in design sprints to assess and improve the customer journey whilst behaviour is changing due to lockdowns & customers requiring access from distance.
It is clear that digital transformation has a very important place at the table, with this being so encompassing of digital innovation, activation and enablement; there is a constant struggle for where is most critical to focus and the areas which will provide optimal improvements to the company. This year it is likely that employee experience will be crucial along with digital supply chain innovation, security of the digital workplace, increasing adoption of automation, constant tweaking of digital to enable a more optimal customer journey and designing a better digital experience for employees to increase happiness & productivity.
As always, The Digital Transformation Conference will be here to help you navigate through the best strategic goals to set and the optimal ways to achieve successful transformation. We are delighted to once again host a number of events featuring industry expert practitioners who will be sharing their experiences and thoughts on what the future holds for digital technology within the enterprise. All events are online and free to attend, starting with our Digital Transformation Conference on European time on January 28th.