A fool with a tool is still a fool: this well-known proverb of course means the focus on technology alone is not enough to drive business and guarantee success.
By Amir Sohrabi, area vice-president: emerging markets at Citrix
Unfortunately, progress in the digital age is often considered in a one-dimensional way: as a pure technology project. But digitisation is about more than introducing a new application or subscribing to a cloud service. It is about business transformation that – like all true transformations – expands in three dimensions: people, process, and technology.
Business transformation often starts with business process optimisation or the introduction of new processes. But business process optimisation is as multi-faceted as the numerous industries, including finance, and individual companies, so it comes in many shapes and sizes.
For manufacturers, for example, it could mean deploying robotic automation and data-driven analytics to speed up product development, production, and go-to-market.
Sales-driven businesses, such as online retailers, tend to focus on improving their ability to scale capacities at short notice, so they can react more dynamically to changing market demands.
People-centric organisations – such as financial institutions, or public authorities – usually put their workforce at the centre of their business transformation projects, not only to increase productivity, but also to ensure their most relevant success factor is ‘on board’ and supports the transformation.
As diverse as these business strategies and the affected business processes are, discussions about progress are almost always linked to second dimension, technology.
The reason is obvious: in today’s technology-driven world, practically all these intended improvements depend upon deploying digital technologies at the right time. And yet, it is only when the strategic goals are clearly defined, and the related business process optimisations are stringently planned and prioritised, that digital technologies – such as the cloud, digital workspaces, agile development, etc. – can fully realise their potential.
The third dimension of the digital transformation – people – is wrongly often relegated to the last place on the priorities list. A business transformation cannot work smoothly – or cannot work at all – if employees are not given the appropriate attention and consideration.
In the end, it is the employees who drive a company’s business success – and despite some futurist scenarios that revolve around robotic process automation, this will continue to be the case: for the foreseeable future, businesses will rely on people to interact with, and work alongside, hardware and software robots – and it will continue to be humans who design, implement, maintain, analyse, and optimise their robotic counterparts.
Therefore, from the start, a company’s digital transformation strategy needs to be built in a people-centric way: focusing on employee needs, and on improving workforce capabilities, efficiency, and well-being, allowing them to use the huge potential of the digital world.
To conclude, the most promising starting point for any journey into the digital future is the point where people interact with technology to achieve an optimised business process. The recent crisis has clearly demonstrated the advantages of this approach: we all have experienced that working from home – with the help of digital technologies, cloud services, and collaboration tools – was, and continues to be, a safe and effective way to keep business operations and our lives up and running.