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It's on People: the undeniable cultural impact in a digital transformation/transition
Nuno Pedras, Chief Information & Digital Officer, Galp
The rate of digital transformations across organizations is known to have been accelerated by the recent times and context in which we have been living. The demand for digital solutions and the reliance on IT to maintain business continuity, optimize operations and promote innovation is stronger than ever. Hence, cultural aspects of transformations cannot be hidden, unseen or even unheard.
As there may be a tendency to look at such transitions merely from a technical or technological point of view, cultural aspects represent a big part of it. A cultural shift must take place at the same time organizations are trying hard to implement a fast adaptation, fast response culture to the challenges and rhythm imposed by the present context/era.
There is something that needs to be strongly considered: the harmony between people, processes, and technology, with data in its core, leading to the delivery of greater business outcomes.
Inside of an organization: IT must be aligned with the business
The challenges that arise from creating business outcomes through the digital transformation must be addressed. IT and the business must always be synchronized, working together as one, but respecting each other’s expertise and knowledge field. As a note of example, it is of extremely importance to have Product Owners that understand business requirements and are accountable as much as they understand IT concepts and the functioning of structures and systems. The creation of vertical teams, aligned with the organization strategy and priorities, can be a strategy to foster operational efficiency, the desired agility that everyone demands.
It is paramount not to just leave project success to chance.
Agility and informed decision making: two contributors to the digital transition.
The natural course of companies nowadays is to be data driven. No one can afford making decisions that are based on wishful thinking but are rather based on certified, quality data. To enable employees the usage of such data and to train them on how to use them also leads to great impacts in the organization’s performance and outcomes. Training people to use data on a self-service basis, promoting the preparation of reports and the creation of analytical models is already contributing to foster a cultural change allied to the digital transformation.
Top companies, on another note, are increasingly adopting an Agile mindset as an approach due to its flexibility, adaptability, efficiency, among many others. Something that was originally created for software development sees its benefits expanded throughout organizations and not only in product development. Having an iterative and incremental approach is helping teams keep up with the demands of the modern workplace. But all of this has a side that’s impossible to ignore, people need to be aware, knowledgeable, and open to new transformative ways of working, and that itself is a journey that runs in parallel and is intimately connected to the digital one.
A cultural shift: literacy, accountability, continuous improvement, and motivation
When organizational culture is not aligned with the digital transformation taking place, the people’s adoption of change is compromised, and productivity levels may be negatively influenced. That is why one needs to align people to the digital mindset of transformation.
Highly qualified and experienced teams, people with great knowledge of the business and the horizons outlined, and who are committed to the strategic purpose of the organization. And here, technology plays a key role. Technology, processes, and people, of course. Without the contribution of people, organizations cannot change. A change is not easy, and it is certainly not something that can be made overnight. It's not a moment, it's a movement.
However, this works both ways: companies need to invest in their people and people need to invest in themselves. There is an individual responsibility in each one of us to foster our skills and a collective responsibility given to companies to invest in their people capabilities so that they have the tools to answer the needs of a digital transformation. To fulfil those gaps of knowledge the context demands, people must look at their own path and what the organization needs and foster that own growth, so that decisions in the process are the most informed ones they could possibly take. Digital literacy is essential to foster change and needs to walk hand in hand with innovation of processes and systems.
Since the traditional ways to deliver are no longer fulfilling the constant needs, a philosophy of reusability, adaptation and collaboration must strive
The importance of a lean legacy and the breakdown of silos
According to a Deloitte’s 2021 benchmark report, data silos continue to be a challenge for most (90 percent) organizations and if this trend continues, this inability to connect systems, applications, and data, will make customer experience to suffer and the capability of the companies to answer to the customer expectations for value to fail. Hence, the importance of building a lean legacy. The role of systems architecture and ensuring a low-cost legacy maintenance is of the utmost importance and of greatest cost as well. Enhancing connectivity between systems, applications and data is expensive, but integration is paramount.
Introducing new technologies and connecting them to existing systems is also essential to foster innovation and create a seamless customer experience. Hence, the importance of lean IT Infrastructures. IT systems are still too dependent on each other due to legacy infrastructure, making it hard for organizations to change. It is either too costly and hard to maintain and mostly a true challenge to digital transformation.
The acceleration towards a digital world is real. Everything has changed in the past years and the need to deliver and innovate and adapt to the new customer at an un-precedent pace is more present than ever. Leaders need to understand that besides legacy, technology, data and infrastructure, the real challenge is to conciliate that with a shifting culture, shifting people. Since the traditional ways to deliver are no longer fulfilling the constant needs, a philosophy of reusability, adaptation and collaboration must strive. And we, as a collective, need to be prepared for this future that has become the norm. Only by working all the dimensions above at the same time and focus on the long run as well as in the immediate rhythm of the modern days it is possible to endure.