Companies benefit from designing and implementing technology in a thoughtful, integrated way that engages the workforce. By involving in the early stages of problem definition design workers who best understand the processes that can be improved, streamlined, or even eliminated, companies can avoid the changes and bottlenecks that later add costs, reduce continuous improvements, and inhibit user buy-in. Moreover, adhering to sequential technology design-implementation processes, the “old model,” diminishes further innovations that can put technologies to new, unanticipated uses that increase an organization’s digital capacities. Plus, leaving end users/workers out of the early stages increases the likelihood that the new digital landscape will widen the gap between winners and losers in the digital transformation process.
Our interview findings indicate that a successful digital transformation incorporates the following five key elements in a new, holistic model:
- Chief Digital Officer (CDO) as a key enabler of transformation: The CDO serves as the system integrator and change process facilitator.
- Proactive workforce upskilling: Sufficient workforce training and investments made before the implementation process help to ensure the workforce has the skills and the cultural willingness to work effectively with digital technologies.
- Collaborative technology design: Vendors, internal firm managers, and workers jointly define the problems/opportunities that digitization might address.
- Augmenting human input with Artificial Intelligence (AI): Consider systemic process changes via AI (pure AI processes but also AI augmenting humans).
- Integrating technology into workflows: Staff closest to soon-to-be-digitized work brought into the design right from the start. Not only consider automation of existing processes but also think about the process itself (and optimize it).