Like all buzzwords, digital transformation has its proponents and opponents. For some it’s the reality of the world we live in, and failure to accept and embrace it is sure to lead to disaster. For others digital transformation is a bit of marketing spiel that’s been whipped up to disguise the fact that, actually, the digital space has got a little stagnant and there’s been no true innovation in recent years.
The fact is this: digital transformation is real and we’ve been going through it since the 60s. What’s happening now is just another stage of the constant state of change we exist in. But when you look at the coverage of digital transformation in the media there is an overwhelming focus on the technology, the killer app or platform that is driving an industry into turmoil. Look no further than the Airbnb for a great example.

But is it really all about the shiny new toy?
It’s easy to be seduced by technology, but just rolling out some new gadget won’t result in digital transformation. Just ask Barclays. A mass roll out of iPads in their branches nearly fell flat when it became obvious that lots of staff were uncomfortable using them. But then they realised what digital transformation is actually about.

People Drive Digital Transformation

What Barclays quickly realised was that the key to successful digital transformation isn’t technology, but people. Technology is an enabler; it can help people work more efficiently. But if they don’t want to use it then you’ve just sunk a lot of money into a gaping digital pit, even if you chose the right tech for the job.That’s a whole other post.
So how did Barclays turn their digital transformation around? They created a team of Digital Eagles. These are employees who act as digital ambassadors. They found the staff who lived and breathed digital and asked them to lead the change, encouraging colleagues to use the new tech and giving them help and support to overcome any challenges.
And they’re all volunteers.

Making It Happen

They always say you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. That might be true, but people can be encouraged to drink, it’s just that you might have to show them the benefit first.
Although those at the top have to buy into digital transformation to make it happen, what you can’t do is pass out an edict from on high that everyone must use the new tech you’ve invested in. All that gets you is resistance. The stick rarely works.
Instead, encourage people within the organisation to show their colleagues the benefit of embracing the changes. People are far more likely to get on board with the support and help of their peers than because upper management says so. That’s just the reality.
Once you realise that digital transformation is about people, how they think and behave, then the rest will follow. But if you allow yourself to be distracted by shiny gadgets then you’ll be destined for failure.
Interested in finding out how you can make digital transformation a success? Then read our ‘Unlocking Your Digital Transformation‘ event round up.