Digital transformations continue, albeit not as originally planned. Before the pandemic, most companies had multi-year plans in place. However, in 2020, they were forced to become more digital sooner than anticipated just to survive, let alone thrive. Now, organizations are readjusting their plans as they bring employees slowly back to the office.
Clearly, remote work was the No. 1 priority in 2020. Artificial intelligence and automation remain strong themes but beware of viewing digital transformation from a technology-centric lens.
"In an increasingly digitalized world, there is a prevailing view among many companies that automation and AI adoption are the primary factors needed to ensure the success of their transformation goals. However, without the integration of a human centric approach to transformation strategies, companies face an uphill battle," said Errol Gardner, EY global vice chair - consulting. "As important as AI and automation are to increase efficiencies and productivity, companies will not succeed in their transformation goals without an emphasis on two critical groups: customers and employees."
The organizations that focus relentlessly on customer experience, employee engagement and motivation excel further and faster than those that prioritize tech alone. Their greater people emphasis and personalization allow them to innovate faster and protect against market disruption in the future, Gardner said.
Some organizations have gone as far as creating a separate digital part of the organization that operates in parallel with the traditional organization. The result is a dual-speed organization in which one part moves at its traditional pace and the other moves at a digital pace. There may also be a bifurcated culture enabled by physical separation in which the digital cool kids have ping pong tables and other superfluous indications that the digital organization is "more like Google." However, bifurcated, dual-speed organizations don't tend to succeed as a single entity.
"The organizations that lead their industries make decisions and set goals through zero-based design (strategizing from scratch) in order to set creative and clear goals," said Jon Walden, CTO Americas for intelligent automation platform provider Blue Prism. "Decisions on the choice of workflows and workforce transformations can then flow from this central strategy. This decision-making process ensures that digital transformation is driven across the enterprise in a uniform way that benefits all teams and users."
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