Human-Centered Transformation Will Enable Greater Creativity in Tech

Human-centered transformation is the reorientation of the organization to recognize and unlock the inherent value in its people.

Fiona Mark, Sam Higgins

February 2, 2022

4 Min Read
person playing digital chess
whyframeshot via Adobe Stock

Over the last decade, we’ve been on a wild ride of digital transformation. Technology capabilities that were previously unheard of are now commonplace or even considered retro today. In the last decade, we’ve gone from being able to look up a restaurant menu on a desktop to being able to track our deliveries in real time through apps on our phones. The pandemic spurred digital adoption at rates considered unfathomable before, but the opportunity to create value through digital is shrinking.

Yes, we have access to technologies that deliver amazing capabilities, but so does everyone else. For example, that food delivery order you can track to your home could have been placed on any multitude of apps, all with almost identical interfaces.

We’ve experienced an explosion of tech investment, but productivity has not kept pace with this level of investment. Organizations that can reduce this lag -- and find a way to accelerate productivity gains -- are going to be the most successful. And they aren’t going to do it by doing more of the same.

With easy access to capital, anyone can buy technology. It’s how you use it that will make the difference. What element will make organizations differentiated and unique going forward? Human talent.

Moving Toward Human-Centered Transformation

We predict that organizations that move toward a human-centered transformation will be the organizations best positioned to unlock their latent digital potential, drive a golden age of productivity gains, and enable a future fit tech strategy of adaptivity, creativity, and resilience. Human-centered transformation is the reorientation of the organization to recognize and unlock the inherent value in its people -- value that, in the right environment, will continue to appreciate.

The cold hard truth in a service-oriented digital economy is that people are what create value for organizations. An estimated 84% of organizational “assets” are now in the form of human capital. This is a reality so critical that the SEC recently ruled on the requirement to disclose human capital assets to ensure that investors are properly informed of the risk associated with backing a particular stock.

Organizations that orient toward people, unlock their talent, and provide them with meaningful work that lets people use, build, and develop their knowledge and skills and recognize the full value that they bring to work will be able to reap the rewards of this transformation with productivity gains of 3% to 5% above those that don’t.

For example, the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, or DEVCOM, is embracing these principles as they move toward a more people-centric approach in one of the most rigorous, hierarchical environments most of us can think of. What started as a pandemic response has since evolved into reevaluation of how work gets done. DEVCOM is moving not just to flexible working that enables employees, or soldiers, more autonomy in managing how they do work but is also proactively building competency-based talent with flexibility and movement built into the system. They are rethinking the whole model with iterative, soldier-centered design.

The Ways Tech Executives Can Drive Human-Centered Transformation

What does this mean for you as a technology executive? What should you be doing to enable or even drive this?

First, we can’t enable people to unlock their talent if we don’t rethink the work being done, and who should even be doing it. We see more and more tech executives driving automation not just for efficiency but to reallocate knowledge worker time so that it can applied to solving difficult problems, generating creative ideas, and developing innovative solutions.

Insights allow executives to make better predictions, act proactively, and be ready for changes in dynamics. The smartest tech executives will not just be applying insights to customer needs but also to those of the employee.

Finally, elevating people hinges on creating a positive experience -- for customers, employees, and partners. The best tech executives will partner with their leadership peers to deliver enhanced, metrics-driven employee experience solutions at scale. Organizations talk about how central people are to their success, but actually managing experiences at scale requires dedicated tools to track development, career progression, employee sentiment, and more. Tech executives will need to work with people leaders to deliver employee experience platforms that go well beyond today’s human capital management systems or office productivity suites.

What Is the Bottom Line?

In 2022, expect to see 10% of tech executives prioritize investments in creativity and innovation practices at a three times higher rate than their competitors. These executives are the ones who have moved beyond digital and are on to unlocking the next step in value creation. They will be able to increase productivity; attract, retain, and grow their talent; and capitalize on the creativity that is freed when people are prioritized.

About the Author(s)

Fiona Mark

Principal Analyst, Forrester

Fiona Mark is a principal analyst at Forrester, helping technology leaders address the challenges of leading technology organizations at a time of unprecedented change. Her research focuses on setting CTOs up for success in leading technology innovation, partnering across the organization, and delivering amazing products. Her other research interests include how diversity, inclusion, and equity are relevant to technology leaders and how technology leaders can drive more value from partnerships. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, Fiona has over 15 years of experience in technology across a range of industries and consulting.

Sam Higgins

Principal Analyst, Forrester

Sam is a principal analyst whose research focuses on business and IT alignment, CMO and CIO collaboration, and the employee experience for IT teams and technology leaders as well as local and regional adoption of emerging technology and digital transformation. Sam has 20-plus years of strategic and tactical experience in the application of information and communications technology (ICT) to achieve modern digital business outcomes for large, complex organizations. He holds a Bachelor of Business in information systems with a specialized minor in marketing from Charles Darwin University and was a contributing author of the book, Service Orientation: Winning Strategies and Best Practices, published in 2006 by Cambridge University Press.

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