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This article was contributed by Corey Glickman, Infosys head of Global Sustainability and Design Consulting Services
The past two years have forced companies that previously preferred to watch and wait to companies that are now focused on accelerating their digital transformation efforts. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from this stepped-up pace, it’s that getting good results is not a plug-and-play proposition.
Companies focused on getting up to speed on technology adoption during the pandemic, but modern digital systems are both complex and customizable, and to get the most out of them, organizations must now focus on human purpose.
Infosys Digital Radar 2022 survey found that throughout the past two years, companies in all industries have expanded their tech adoption to high levels across all disciplines. Previously, Infosys found that a meaningful portion of businesses (10% in 2020) lagged far behind, watching the technology journeys of others before starting their own.
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Previously, it made sense for the cautious watchers in a company to see how digital transformation played out in their industries. Now that practically all businesses have flipped the digital switch, what will it take to make it work well?
The next stage of digital transformation is to make sure the efforts pay off and to do so, the technologies must function at a human level. This applies to an expanding universe of stakeholders: from customers and employees to shareholders and the communities a business impacts.
Here are the four steps to unify digital adoption and purpose:
- Integrate experience
- Elevate the human element
- Build diverse, dedicated teams
- Measure efforts against environmental, social and governance targets
From efficiency to experience: set up your company for a successful digital transformation
The first step from analog to digital is where benefits have been the clearest. Digital systems cost less and operate more efficiently than analog precedents. Digital transformation continues to excel at driving efficiency and increasing revenue, Infosys’ Digital Radar 2022 research shows. And yet, users want tech to deliver something else now. Specifically, they want technology to help with innovation, deliver better customer service and detect fresh insights from the petabytes of data they have at hand, Digital Radar found.
These are all very human, experience-oriented desires. Enterprises must integrate human experience with technology and operations to build on the gains of the past two years. Valuing experience over activity — or interaction over transaction demands more from technology and users. Experience integrated with technology will create solutions that are relevant and adaptable, which can assist digital transformation efforts company-wide.
Take employee satisfaction surveys. Dissatisfied or delighted employees are much more likely to fill out surveys, making it difficult to capture an authentic measure of customer experience. A leading telecom company in Australia (also an Infosys client) developed a sentiment analysis tool by studying help desk interactions. Each conversation was given a sentiment score and analyzed. The effort helped the company more quickly identify issues and develop resolutions that improved employee satisfaction. For those who still weren’t satisfied, managers and HR reps could be called in.
Up with people
Too often, the focus on humans in a process ends at the design phase. This results in solutions that don’t work right and don’t get used. Partly functional and under-utilized technology have contributed to the rise of the design thinking methodology and the spread of Agile programming techniques in the IT department and beyond. Agile is now applied across business domains, with scrum teams and Kanbans filtering across organizations. Like the PC and smartphone, Agile is not a new concept, but it continues to deliver results.
The CIO of a $30 billion company in the U.S. describes that the Agile notion of “minimum viable product” (MVP) starts at the project charter, at the very beginning of a project, and continues throughout the lifecycle. Teams often think about the entire project rather than MVPs throughout the project. “Go back to what Agile is all about: Carving something that is small and achievable and that we can learn from.”
Build diverse, dedicated teams
Talent is the engine of digital transformation. But as technology has grown abundant, talent has grown scarce. Knowledge workers in 2022 want more than pay and perks from their employer. They want purpose.
Diverse, dedicated teams deliver tech solutions that meet the needs of all because of the things that make them unique and the cause that brings them together. A diverse team sees solutions through different lenses, which ensures greater inclusivity.
Aruna Ravichandran, chief marketing officer of WebEx by Cisco, describes three core principles of successful teams: Intellectual diversity, psychological safety, and a purpose worth fighting for.
“When you wake up every day, you need to build a purpose which employees feel that, you know, it’s worth fighting for. And that needs to be communicated in everything you do,” she said in an October 2020 podcast interview with Skyler Mattson, president of human experience firm WongDoody.
Psychological safety increases creativity and creates a culture of risk-taking, which fosters innovation, Ravichandran explained. For a manager to really know what the team is capable of, the team members need the ability to express their opinions without worrying whether they’re going to be heard, Ravichandran emphasized.
Use ESG as your measuring stick for your company’s digital transformation
Technology and transformation projects come with tons of measurements. But purpose and experience are hard to quantify. The good news is that increasing emphasis on corporate environmental and social practices, as well as corporate governance, offer good proxies. Shareholders and stakeholders demand that corporations account for their impact and actions, as well as their bottom line in the forms of quantifiable environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.
Investors, partners, and others have cooked up an alphabet soup of standards, growing from ESG and UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) all the way to the accounting-adjacent Sustainability Accountability Standards Board. These standards establish a good framework for companies to use in defining and measuring ESG progress, Corey Glickman and Jeff Kavanaugh write in “Practical Sustainability: Circular Commerce, Smarter Spaces and Happier Humans.” Corporate leaders can work from this emerging framework to establish a scorecard and then set lofty goals. This combination of a clear scorecard and ambitious goals can help companies achieve progress, rather than just collect operational data, Glickman and Kavanaugh write.
Computational design (using computers and computational methods to design new things) keeps the focus on human experience by interpreting, and measuring, the behavior of real users at a detailed level. Science-based targets have evolved formally to measure environmental attributes like emissions and ethical governance. This scientific approach is also converting the qualitative world of social responsibility and diversity into results-oriented, actionable programs. Technology and purpose go hand-in-hand here: The emergence of exponential technologies – technologies that enable very rapid change – and new mindsets allow companies to chase loftier goals practically.
Better experiences and launching new ideas
Adopting technology has long helped companies save money and operate more efficiently. Now, people want technology to help them deliver better experiences and launch new ideas. That can only happen when human purpose is integrated throughout digital transformation efforts. Technology must deliver at a comprehensible, human level for all stakeholders: customers, employees, shareholders, and neighbors. Codified in ESG, built by diverse teams, focused on people, and integrated with experience, purpose is the pathway to digital transformation that makes sense and works for people.
Corey Glickman is Infosys’ head of Global Sustainability and Design Consulting Services
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