human resources

What You Need to Know about HR Trends in the Digital Age – Part 2

Our exploration of how the rules of HR are changing in the digital age continues with six more trends from Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report and survey.

  1. Performance management.

What’s it about?—It’s a simple truth that as the nature of work shifts, so should the way we measure and evaluate it. In recent years, companies have been experimenting more with performance management approaches that turn away from simple appraisals in favor of continuous feedback and coaching. This year, according to the Deloitte survey, companies are finishing their experiments and moving toward the deployment of new performance management models on a wide scale. So far, these changes are greatly helping to increase productivity and shift corporate culture.

business management

Where can businesses start?—Though more and more businesses are changing how they measure, evaluate, and recognize employee performance, new tools are not yet in place at every organization. Companies looking to capitalize on this trend should clearly designate a strategy and philosophy for performance management; look to their peers to see new techniques in action; and focus on providing training to managers in coaching and continuous feedback.

  1. Pushing the boundaries of leadership.

What’s it about?—Today’s rapidly transforming companies need strong leaders more than ever, and yet most organizations are having difficulty moving quickly enough to develop digital leaders with the necessary skills and expertise, let alone build completely new leadership models. As a result, the boundaries of traditional leadership hierarchies are being dramatically disrupted, and more agile, diverse, and younger leaders are emerging—sometimes from unexpected places—to take the reins at their companies.

Where can businesses start?—Challenges to the leadership model can be stressful for long-established organizations, but it’s important for companies to embrace this new direction in order to move forward. Businesses should be bold in coming up with a new vision for the organization’s leadership model. In addition, they should not be afraid of identifying prospective digital leaders within the company and promoting younger or newer workers into leadership positions quickly.

  1. Digital HR.

What’s it about?—No longer a siloed support function focused on delivering employee services, HR is, in many organizations, at the forefront of digital transformation. The push to “be digital” rather than just to “do digital” is driving the development of a new digital workforce, a more effectively designed digital workplace, and a digital HR function that not only delivers solutions, but continuously experiments and innovates. In other words, it’s not simply a question of digitizing HR platforms—rather, it’s about helping change how people work and how they interact with each other in the workplace.

Where can businesses start?—Fortunately, the path to digital HR is rapidly becoming clearer as expanded options and new platforms and tools gain a greater hold in the business world. Organizations can start down this path by upgrading core technology; developing a multi-year HR technology strategy and building a dedicated digital HR team; and prioritizing innovation as a core strategy within HR.

  1. People analytics.

What’s it about?—Data about people at work is of vital importance today, and not just to specialized technical data scientists, but as a step to achieving broad business objectives and efficiencies. When used properly, people analytics can impact everything from operations and management to financial performance. However, many businesses lack the readiness and expertise to optimize the use of this data and transform it into actionable insights.

analytics personnel

Where can businesses start?—Clear leadership and targeted investment can help businesses make a successful people analytics program part of their operations. Making a two- to three-year roadmap for analytics program investment is a good place to start, as is the establishment of a multidisciplinary group from across the organization to outline and understand the broadest possible uses of people data.

  1. Diversity and inclusion.

What’s it about?—All around the world, diversity and inclusion are now CEO-level issues. No longer a “check the box” initiative driven by HR, diversity is an essential element to the digital organization of today, which thrives on open dialogue, collaboration, and complementary working styles. To be most effective, diversity and inclusion should be a comprehensive strategy woven into the very fabric of the talent life cycle, where it can enhance employee engagement, boost the brand, and drive performance improvements.

Where can businesses start?—There is still a “reality gap” between the importance that organizations place on diversity and inclusion, and what’s happening on the ground. Businesses can shrink this gap by leveraging data to look at the facts, identify problems, and measure progress, as well as by providing education initiatives like unconscious bias training. The goal is to build an awareness of diversity into the entire workforce, including management.

  1. The augmented workforce.

What’s it about?—AI systems, robotics, and other cognitive tools and technology are reinventing almost every job, a process that is leading to something that has been dubbed the “augmented workforce.” As this trend picks up speed, organizations must consider how they will design jobs and organize work in the future with people and robots working side by side. The days of considering the workforce to be only those employees on the balance sheet are over.

Where can businesses start?—To understand how new cognitive technologies could change the fabric of their workforce, companies must have a clear and comprehensive understanding of what the picture looks like now. Essential tasks for companies to complete include closely examining how core work actually gets done; identifying all human workforce segments within the company; looking at all types of nonhuman workforces currently in play; and determining what human skills will be critical for the future workforce.

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human resources

What You Need to Know about HR Trends in the Digital Age – Part 1

It won’t come as a surprise to today’s business and HR leaders that the title of Deloitte’s recently released, fifth annual Global Human Capital Trends report and survey is “Rewriting the Rules for the Digital Age.” As the report highlights, the present-day workforce is undergoing a seismic shift as a result of dramatic advances in digital technology. This shift has called into question the hows and whys of almost every organizational practice. As a result, business and HR leaders all over the world are having to look beyond old operational paradigms and embrace bold new ways of thinking about their organizations, their people, and their role in the global economy.

For HR leaders struggling with how best to adapt to this dramatically changing landscape, the Deloitte report is an instructive read. Full of insights gathered from more than 10,000 survey respondents in 140 countries, the report presents 10 of the most important trends impacting HR in the digital age, and offers helpful suggestions for leaders on how to incorporate these trends into their workplaces. Read on for a look at the top four of these trends.

  1. Building the organization of the future.

What’s it about?—The question of how to build the organization of the future has topped Deloitte’s list of trends for the past two years. This year, nearly 90% of all survey respondents rated this issue as “important” or “very important.” It’s easy to understand why this is such a priority when we consider not only that today’s high-performing organizations operate very differently than they did even just a decade earlier, but also that many organizations still operate based on industrial-age models that were developed a century or more ago. Consequently, abandoning cumbersome legacy systems and practices is a pressing concern for most businesses today, especially given the rapid pace of transformation and adaptation in the digital change.

organization chart

Where can businesses start?—There are a number of early steps that businesses can take to start down the road of building the organization of the future. These include making talent mobility a core value, which can be accomplished by moving executives from function to function so that they gain a deeper understanding of a more agile career model. Other strategies involve forming an organizational performance group to interview and study how high-performing teams and programs work, and leveraging new workplace communication tools like Slack or Basecamp to foster greater collaboration and exchange.

  1. Careers and learning.

What’s it about?—The very notion of what a “career” is has changed significantly in recent years. Today, the career of the average worker could span up to 60 years, with the average stay in a single job or role lasting between four and five years. In other words, today’s workers will be looking to continually reinvent themselves, move from role to role, and find or transform their calling over time. If businesses want to make the most of their employees’ skills, they are going to have to support them through this ongoing process by delivering continuous learning opportunities and a business culture that deeply values long-term development.

Where can businesses start?—HR leaders looking to revamp learning and development (L&D) within their organizations have a challenging task ahead, but small initial actions can help pave the way. First, it’s helpful to evaluate internal mobility to ensure that employees have frequent access to new opportunities. Hiring from within is also important, as is bringing back the idea of the “corporate university” where people can come together for cross-functional, interdisciplinary programs and learning experiences.

  1. Talent acquisition.

personnel hiring

What’s it about?—Identified as an important or very important issue by 81% of Deloitte survey respondents, talent acquisition is a challenging and contentious area in this age of talent and skill shortages. Interestingly, it has become so important for companies to find the right people for the job that attracting skilled resources is no longer the responsibility of HR alone. Instead, all managers and C-level executives are now realizing the importance of, and their role in, sourcing top talent.

Where can businesses start?—One of the most important ways that businesses can change their approach to talent acquisition is by changing the tools they use to find and connect with candidates. Recruiting today is a sophisticated digital experience, requiring businesses to explore a range of approaches, including social networks, cognitive tools, and video and gaming, in their hunt for great people.

  1. The employee experience.

What’s it about?—Just as digital-age customers have come to expect a different level of experience from the organizations they buy products and services from, employees have come to expect a different kind of workplace experience during their tenure with a company. As a result, more and more businesses are focusing on long-term employee journeys, looking at the needs of their workforce from the first pre-interview contact through retirement and beyond. These companies are finding new ways to reshape the employee experience through broad culture and engagement initiatives.

Where can businesses start?—A holistic approach is needed when it comes to revamping the employee experience. Businesses can start by recognizing that the employee experience is as valuable and can make as much of an impact as the customer experience. Then, they can move on to specific strategies like finding ways to simplify work and improve productivity; visiting peer companies to gain inspiration and discover successful and unsuccessful techniques; and gaining critical buy-in from the C-suite.

cyber security

What Trends Will Shape Cybersecurity in the Coming Year?

Leading research and advisory company Gartner recently wrapped up its 2017 Security and Risk Management Summit. A premier gathering of leaders and executives in the fields of security, risk management, and business continuity management, the annual summit focuses on helping businesses reinvent and refine their thinking on how to handle security and risk in the digital age.

In this era of ransomware attacks and privacy breaches, the issue of cybersecurity was unsurprisingly one of the defining themes of this year’s summit. In a presentation given on the summit’s first day, Gartner analyst and research vice president Earl Perkins outlined five key trends that are expected to shape the cybersecurity landscape in 2017 and 2018.

  1. Changing skills and organizational requirements

online securityCybersecurity already has a zero percent unemployment rate, and that talent shortage is only expected to grow as the field evolves and the need for new skill sets arises. Data management in particular will become a significant challenge. The next three to five years alone will see organizations generating more data than they ever have before, and that unprecedented volume of information will require highly specialized handling. The need for new skills in data science and analytics will continue to grow, and the industry’s major concerns will include areas like data classes, data governance, and artificial security intelligence. To keep pace with this next phase of cybersecurity, adaptability will be essential, both for organizations and for individuals.

  1. Cloud security as a top priority

Now that cloud computing has become a mainstream activity and the cloud environment is reaching maturity, the cloud is becoming a valuable—and potentially vulnerable—security target. The entire industry will need to work together to prevent a tragedy of the commons in which the stability and security of a shared cloud service is threatened by too many demands from too many different companies, without the corresponding sharing of responsibility for its upkeep. In addition, to keep data safe in the cloud environment, companies will need to make difficult decisions about who they can and cannot trust. Therefore, they should develop rigorous security guidelines for both private and public cloud use, and put in place a model to drive informed decisions concerning cloud risk.

  1. Shifting focus away from protection and prevention

One of the biggest cybersecurity trends discussed at the Gartner summit is one that may be the most difficult for security professionals to accept: the idea that it simply isn’t possible to stop every threat. Executives need to accept that fact and focus their resources on what they can actually accomplish. As Earl Perkins argued in his presentation, it is very difficult to stop a dedicated, well-financed actor who is after something specific in an organization from getting what they want, especially as they can always resort to a company’s weakest link: people. Instead, enterprises should adapt their security setup to focus not on protection, but on detection, response, and remediation, which Perkins described as the new frontier for today’s cybersecurity fight. Indeed, as technology evolves further, we can even expect to see the focus shift yet again from detection and response to prediction, i.e., heading off threats before they even happen.

  1. The development operations center as the leader of application and data security

business

Despite the fact that there is a new window of opportunity in application security, the associated expense makes most enterprises reluctant to take advantage of it. However, there’s never been a better time to bring together development and operations, and to figure out the best way not only of evaluating the value of security, but of explaining that value to the business. The anticipated result is a necessary shift from DevOps to DevSecOps. Now that an almost endless connection between development and operations is possible due to the drastically shortened time to market, focusing on security within the DevOps context, rather than running each element as an isolated unit, is the essential next step. If enterprises are not working with an internal DevOps team, it’s critical to have a conversation with their service provider about the kind of security they offer.

  1. Digital ecosystems and next-generation security

Safety, reliability, and privacy are the key tenets of cybersecurity, but the interesting thing happening now is that these issues are no longer confined solely to the digital realm. As a result of the rapid rise of the Internet of Things and its millions of connected devices, cybersecurity is now directly linked to the physical safety of people and environments. Bluntly put, when you’re talking about things like self-driving cars or sensors that monitor health conditions and give alerts when it’s time to take medication, enterprises that don’t have a sufficient handle on cybersecurity may be putting people’s lives at risk. Therefore, the next generation of cybersecurity won’t just be about the digital world, but the physical one as well.

technology

A Look at Today’s Most Important Emerging Technologies

In today’s rapidly shifting digital landscape, it’s more important than ever for companies to stay on top of emerging technology trends. To help businesses keep pace with the latest technological changes, Forrester recently published a new report on “The Top Emerging Technologies for Digital Predators,” which includes a wealth of information relevant to companies regardless of where they sit on the digital transformation spectrum. Read on for a closer look at some key takeaways from the report.

What is a digital predator?

According to Forrester analyst and report co-author Nigel Fenwick, today’s companies tend to fall into one of three categories:

Digital dinosaurs—These incumbents struggle to shed their old business models and reinvent themselves for the digital economy. Their slow rate of change results from a number of different factors, including the power many feel from holding a near monopoly position, the need to defend large P&Ls (profit and loss), or simply a failure to see either the opportunity or the threat that digitization represents. Many retailers as well as manufacturing and construction firms belong to this group.

businessDigital transformers—These traditional businesses have successfully evolved to take advantage of emerging technologies; for the most part, they are creating new sources of value for their customers and are implementing competitive strategies that may take them beyond conventional industry boundaries. Companies like Burberry, L’Oréal, and Ford are good examples of digital transformers.

Digital predators—The third category of businesses is startup territory. These digital predators successfully leverage emerging digital technologies to challenge traditional incumbent companies for market share, frequently displacing them in the process. The names of some of the biggest digital predators won’t surprise anyone: Amazon, Airbnb, and Netflix, for starters.

What emerging technologies are having a significant business impact?

Fenwick argues that, regardless of whether a company is a digital dinosaur, transformer, or predator, every company needs to understand how emerging technologies are impacting the business landscape and, consequently, what role they might have to play in the company’s own digital transformation. This understanding can help executives like CIOs, CTOs, and CDOs ensure that their technology portfolios blend mature technologies that support current operations with emerging technologies that will help to serve future customers.

According to the Forrester report, some of the most critical emerging technologies that companies need to know about—that is, those technologies that have the highest potential to bring a competitive advantage, influence markets, or shift the business landscape altogether—include:

Intelligent agents—These are artificial intelligence solutions that have the capacity to not only interact with their users, but to learn their behavior and understand their needs, and eventually even to make decisions on their behalf through predictive analytics. The idea behind intelligent agents is to improve productivity, optimize a variety of business activities, and reduce costs. Equally important is the goal to increase customer loyalty by offering a personalized, high-quality experience. Some of the best-known intelligent agents at present include prototypes like Apple’s Siri or Google Now, but more chatbots, virtual agents, and robotic process automation services are being added to the landscape every day.

virtual realityAugmented and virtual reality—Augmented reality (AR) is a process by which digital information and experiences are layered on top of the physical world, while virtual reality (VR) goes one step further, creating a completely new, interactive digital environment. AR in particular has strong potential to dramatically alter the customer experience, especially in retail environments. For example, the home improvement retail chain Lowe’s recently released an AR “mapping” app that helps customers search for products, add them to a shopping list, and then easily navigate their way through the store to find and collect the items.

Internet of Things solutions—Smart devices and sensors connected to the Internet are providing companies with a new level of insight into how customers are using their products and how their systems are operating. The Forrester report makes the case that using a digital model to map the physical world will become a defining feature of business over the next decade, and that the Internet of Things (IoT) will simply become the business standard for companies dealing with physical assets.

Cognitive technology—Advanced machine learning has the power to mimic natural human cognitive functions, thus opening up the possibility for new data insights and suggested actions. Emerging technologies in this category include developments like natural language processing, which can personalize and differentiate the customer experience, as well as dramatically improve internal processes.

Hybrid wireless technologies—A new communications infrastructure could be on the rise given the advances in interfaces and software that allow devices to use and to translate between at least two different wireless providers, protocols, and frequency bands (such as radio, cellular, and Wi-Fi). These developments are likely to drive new applications that anticipate and meet customer demands in a whole new way.

server room

How to Thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – 9 Principles

One of the biggest effects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has been the erosion of conventional boundaries between industries. As a host of emerging and mutually reinforcing technologies (like the Internet of Things, data analytics, and machine learning) have opened up a vast array of new opportunities for business, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see the difference between, for example, a retail store and a retail bank, or an entertainment production company and a telecommunications provider. In addition, the relationships among consumers, suppliers, and producers are similarly blurring as a result of digital technology’s power to enable individuals to connect outside of the traditional value chain.

In such a confused environment, full of ever-shifting lines in the sand, how can a business differentiate itself from its competitors (who may not even be in the same industry), build digital prowess, and play a pivotal role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution? A recent article from Strategy & Business magazine offers the following nine principles as a guide:

  1. Rethink the business model.

organization chart

Today’s digital landscape is full of cautionary examples of incumbents who clung to outdated business models, only to lose ground to startups that leveraged flexibility and innovation to introduce new products and services at significantly lower prices. Businesses today need to realize that traditional industries have changed forever, and paths to profitability have changed accordingly. As a result, it’s time to take a fresh look at long-established assumptions about doing business, and develop a new business model that’s a more appropriate fit for this new era.

  1. Build a platform-based strategy.

The value chain was the backbone of the old industrial system; in the new system, that backbone is the platform. A system that brings a range of vendors and customers together on a plug-and-play technological base, the platform has become widely recognized as one of the main driving forces of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Companies must take steps to determine what role they will be able to play in a platform-based economy, such as a builder of platforms, an engager using platforms to provide products and services, or a developer of new technologies to serve existing platforms.

  1. Design for customers.

The new infrastructure of the Fourth Industrial Revolution may be a web of digital connections, but it’s important to remember that there are still real-life people at the end of those connections. Today, digital technology has given businesses the opportunity to be closer than ever to their customers, and to discover (and fulfill) what those customers genuinely want and need. A customer-centric approach to design has therefore become vitally important.

  1. Boost technological acumen.

business

Today, regardless of industry, software is the key to competitiveness. Over the next few years, every company, even born-digital startups, will need to improve its technological acumen in order to keep up with the pace of change and remain a competitive market force. This not only means recruiting software experts, it also means making training in digital tools and insight a key development focus for every single worker.

  1. Innovate quickly and openly.

Large-scale disruptive innovation has garnered the lion’s share of attention in the digital revolution, but many companies are finding that a steady stream of smaller, incremental innovations is just as effective, in terms of both profit and feasibility. Today’s digital tools allow smaller innovations like new products to be prototyped, manufactured in small batches, and tested in the market within a greatly reduced timeframe; this is a huge advantage in helping companies understand how real-world customers will respond.

  1. Leverage data.

Most companies are well versed in gathering data. However, the next step is to ensure that they properly analyze the data for important patterns, which can lead to critical insights and actionable decisions. For maximum effectiveness, companies should ensure that their analytics teams are integrated, and that there are regular discussions across the company about what findings are coming to light and how this information could affect the business.

  1. Embrace new financing models.

financing

The old ways of raising money are having a harder time delivering when it comes to financing new large-scale technologies. Instead, financing is seeing the same kind of shift that cloud computing brought to software—that is, a pay-as-you-go model that emphasizes smaller but more frequent payments in exchange for more flexible installations.

  1. Emphasize purpose over products.

Purpose is taking over from product as the main factor that differentiates one company from another. A clear value proposition, applied to everything a company does, is a must-have for anyone doing business in the digital age; consumers today want to know not only what a company provides, but why they provide it and towards what outcome.

  1. Handle data responsibly.

Even small companies are now collecting vast amounts of data, and customers need to know that companies can be trusted with their sensitive personal information. This not only means that companies must maintain secure privacy safeguards to prevent unauthorized data access, but it also means that they must handle data ethically and transparently to avoid betraying consumer trust.

internet of things

4 Important Takeaways from a New Study on the Internet of Things

IoTWorldForumHosted by Cisco in late May 2017, the fourth installment of the Internet of Things World Forum (IoTWF) brought together some of the world’s most innovative IoT thought leaders from business, government, and academia for three days of discussion and debate in London, one of Europe’s fastest-growing technology capitals.

One of the highlights of this year’s IoTWF was the release of a new study conducted by Cisco on the current state of the IoT landscape. To compile the study, Cisco surveyed more than 1,800 business and IT leaders across a range of industries in the US, the UK, and India, focusing exclusively on respondents from organizations that had completed or were in the process of implementing at least one IoT initiative.

Despite widespread excitement about the enormous potential of the Internet of Things, the results of the study highlighted the fact that getting successful IoT initiatives off the ground is not always an easy task. According to survey respondents, the majority of IoT initiatives (60 percent) grind to a halt at the Proof of Concept stage. As for companies with completed IoT initiatives, only 26 percent consider their initiative to be a complete success, while on the other hand, a full one-third of completed projects were deemed unsuccessful.

Other important takeaways from the study include:

The human factor still matters.

Technology may be at the heart of the Internet of Things, but it’s vital not to overlook the critical role that human factors like culture, leadership, and organization play in the ultimate success of an IoT project. In fact, of the four factors that survey respondents identified as the most important for successful IoT initiatives, three are all about people and relationships. The top factor, cited by 54 percent of respondents, was strong collaboration between IT and business units; this was followed closely by an organizational culture that focuses on and values technology (cited by 49 percent of respondents), and IoT expertise and knowledge both internally and through external partnerships (48 percent). In addition, survey respondents whose organizations had completed successful IoT projects described the use of close partnerships at every project stage – from strategic planning through to post-rollout – as a fundamental part of their overall success.

internet of things

And speaking of the human factor, it’s also interesting to note here that the success of an IoT project seems to be very much a matter of perception. IT executives, who prioritize things like technologies, expertise, and vendors, are more likely to consider projects successful than are business executives, who place greater importance on strategy, business cases, processes, and milestones. Thirty-five percent of IT executives who responded to the Cisco survey considered their IoT initiative to be completely successful, while only 15 percent of business executives said the same.

Support is critical.

With 60 percent of survey respondents emphasizing that IoT initiatives are much more difficult to implement in reality than anyone at their organization expected, it’s clear that a successful IoT project needs all the help it can get. Some of the main challenges that need to be overcome across all stages of implementation include time to completion, insufficient internal expertise, data quality, integration across teams, and cost overruns. Organizations that have been the most successful in implementing IoT initiatives have turned these challenges into opportunities by seeking out and engaging in strong partnerships throughout the process, as described above, in order to reduce the learning curve and bridge critical knowledge and skills gaps. Many survey respondents described the potential of these partnerships with other vendors as an important way to create connected solutions, share data, and consequently bring significant new value to industries.

Failure is a teaching tool.

One of the biggest shifts in mindset that has happened as a result of the digital revolution is embracing failure—not avoiding it. To succeed in the fast-paced world of digital transformation, businesses must become less risk-averse and use stalled or failed initiatives as a learning experience to feed and improve future efforts. Happily, the majority of businesses working in the IoT realm seem to be on board with this idea: 64 percent of survey respondents agreed that unsuccessful IoT initiatives actually had the unexpected benefit of accelerating, rather than slowing down, their organization’s level of IoT investment.

The benefits are significant.

If IoT initiatives are so hard to implement successfully, are they really worth pursuing? The answer to that is a resounding yes, as indicated by the benefits that survey respondents described as resulting from successful IoT projects. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of all respondents said that they had been able to use data from completed IoT projects to improve their business in some way; globally, the top three benefits named by respondents were improved customer satisfaction (70 percent), better operational efficiencies (67 percent), and improved quality of products and services (66 percent). Perhaps not surprisingly, these benefits can also help businesses boost their revenues: 39 percent of survey respondents cited improved profitability as the top unexpected benefit that IoT projects brought to their organization.

digital transformation

A Look at the ABCs of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation can be confusing, especially if you don’t know the jargon. To help those needing to boost their digital vocabulary, research and analysis firm Econsultancy recently developed a fun digital transformation alphabet to guide digital beginners through some of the most important terms of the digital age. Do you know your digital ABCs? Read on to find out!

A is for Agile.

A project management methodology that has become popular with businesses undergoing digital transformation, agility involves teams working collaboratively and using data to drive key decisions in a continuous test-and-learn process.

B is for Benchmarking.

Setting an organizational benchmark is the first step for businesses embarking on digital transformation. Progress can’t be evaluated unless there’s a starting point against which to evaluate it. Typical benchmarking tactics include a capability audit, skills assessment, or a comprehensive review of business strategies.

benchmark stats

C is for Customer Focus.

In the digital era, the customer is by far the most important driver of digital transformation. Most companies’ digitization efforts are strongly focused on creating a better customer experience.

D is for Data.

Data is one of the most valuable resources of the digital age, offering the potential for rich and detailed customer insights when properly mined and analyzed.

E is for Education.

Digital training for non-digitally focused roles is becoming a high priority for companies now that digital technologies no longer operate in isolation, but rather serve as the foundation for broad business operations.

F is for Failure.

Getting comfortable with risk, and consequently with failure, is an essential part of digital transformation. Playing it safe is no longer an option for companies that want to stand out from the pack.

G is for Governance.

governance

The pace of technology is moving much faster than the legislation and regulations that govern it. In order to ensure that innovation occurs in an environment that still protects public interests, a new system of governance will need to be developed. This is emerging as one of the most critical questions of the digital era.

H is for Hurdles.

Incumbents seeking to digitize themselves usually face a number of common hurdles, including legacy technology and systems, lack of in-house skills and expertise, and resistance to organizational change.

I is for Innovation Labs.

Innovation labs, essentially mini-startups operating within a larger business, are a popular strategy with incumbents looking to test drive digital transformation on a smaller scale before rolling it out across a company.

J is for Job Descriptions.

As roles evolve and new needs emerge, job descriptions are changing faster than ever, as are traditional hierarchies and reporting structures.

K is for KPIs.

Digital success can be difficult to measure, but clearly defined key performance indicators can help companies ensure they are staying on track in new and uncertain digital territory.

L is for Long-term Value.

Integrating new technology is not about creating a short-term fix, but rather about building long-term value. Digitally transforming business must look beyond their month-end targets and think instead about the longer-term potential for digital initiatives.

M is for Management (of change).

management

Change is hard for large, long-established organizations. In order for a transformation to be successful, inspired and committed management is an absolute must-have.

N is for Norms.

A company’s norms, such as dress code or office organization, have a significant impact on that company’s culture. If the ultimate goal of digital transformation is to change the organizational culture, changing the norms might be a good place to start.

O is for Outsourcing (versus insourcing).

Businesses that lack some of the key skills needed for their digital transformation are increasingly turning to outsourcing as a way of harnessing critical expertise. However, developing in-house talent can foster intracompany collaboration.

P is for Personality.

Digital transformation success stories of recent years have made it abundantly clear that leaders’ personalities play a critical role in guiding and driving organizational change.

Q is for (digital) Quotient.

Global research firm McKinsey coined the term “digital quotient” to describe a company’s level of digital maturity, skills, and capabilities.

R is for Roadmaps.

Digital transformation doesn’t happen without a plan. Leveraging the metaphor of digital change as a long-term journey, many companies are creating “roadmaps” to guide their transformations and help them achieve key goals.

S is for Structures.

Organizational structures are changing as digital transformation disrupts established hierarchies and breaks down barriers between business units.

T is for Talent.

Talent is at a premium in today’s digital marketplace. Given the high demand for (and short supply of) highly-skilled workers, industry experts estimate that talent shortages may continue to be a challenge for digitally transforming companies over the next few years.

U is for User Testing.

management

Companies cannot afford to wait until a product is perfect before launching it. Instead, user testing has become a more accepted phase of product development. It is part of an agile system in which lessons learned directly from users can be quickly integrated into future iterations.

V is for Vocabulary.

If you want to change your business, you need to change the words you use to describe it. (This ABC guide is a good place to start!)

W is for Workspace Design.

Workspace design has proved to be an important element of successful digital transformations. Features like open-plan offices and informal meeting areas help encourage the sharing and exchanging of ideas. This can lead to surprising innovations.

X is for (user) Xperience.

One of the main drivers of digital transformation is the creation of a better and easier user experience. Indeed, this is such an important element that user experience designers, or UX designers, are currently among the most sought-after employees.

Y is for Yardsticks.

No two digital transformations are alike. However, companies may still find it beneficial to chart their digital progress against that of similar organizations.

Z is for Zany Job Titles.

Just as job descriptions are changing, so too are job titles. But while the titles may be zany, the responsibilities they encompass are very serious indeed.