Customising DX to empower employee success

In the new ‘gold rush’ of the 21st century, companies are seeking the holy grail of increased revenue, profitability, customer satisfaction, and stickiness. Many have turned to artificial intelligence (AI) and digital transformation (DX) since the turn of the century to achieve all this with lower costs.

However, various studies have shown that the overwhelming majority — an average of 87.5% — of DX initiatives fail to meet their original objectives. A Harvard Business Review article last year found that while 89% of large organisations worldwide have undertaken such a transformation, they have managed to capture only 31% of the expected increase in revenue and only a quarter of the anticipated cost savings. What accounts for this dismal return on investment (ROI)?

A lot of this is down to the assumption of many companies that a uniform approach is best for DX as it reduces complexity and therefore cost. However, every company is unique and merely adopting new technology cannot constitute a successful DX strategy.

The goal of a successful DX strategy is to future-proof business outcomes and build business resilience. This can be achieved through a combination of innovative solutions that empowers employees to solve specific problems.

Innovation starts with employees

McKinsey reports that companies that harness the essentials of innovation see a substantial performance edge that separates them from others — with evidence that mastering innovation can generate economic profit that is 2.4 times higher than that of other players.

We believe that business innovation is a combination of imagination and information. Leaders seeking to make their organisations strong and adaptable need to start with understanding their business’s unique strengths and build from there. Implementing new ideas and ways of doing things has to start with a company’s unique model and way of doing business; only then can business resilience be established.

Before integrating the shiniest tools and gadgets into the organisation, business leaders must gather information on areas of friction in workflows and existing problems faced by workers. Rather than disrupt, technology should facilitate greater collaboration and convenience at work.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of DX strategies hinges on employees’ willingness and ability to adopt the new technologies. These are some ways that can support a seamless integration of new technologies into the structure of the organisation:

  • Technology should be used to solve specific problems: Businesses must first gather information from their employees on pain points faced in existing workflows before adopting new technology.
  • Technology should empower and not disrupt workflows: Different teams have different work habits. Therefore, it is important for technology to be incorporated into the unique working styles of different employees for better productivity.
  • Technology solutions should be adopted and implemented in measured steps: DX is not a one-off implementation; it is a journey. A roadmap will help ensure that different departments progress in their DX journeys at a pace that matches their differing starting points.

Picture a company transitioning to a new project management platform as part of its digital transformation journey. Prior to implementation, the company gathers feedback from employees to identify workflow pain points and diverse work habits. With a clear understanding of its people and business processes, DX is customised according to varying needs, and implementation follows a phased method outlined in a roadmap, ensuring each department progresses at its own pace. This tailored approach empowers employees, maximises productivity, and minimises disruption to existing workflows.

Integrating technology with people

Organisations are often ill-prepared for the transition period right after new tools and processes are adopted. There is a recovery period that employees go through when dealing with major changes to their day-to-day work.

In taking on employee feedback during this phase, organisations must remain open to other vendors and partners because no single company can cover every area of innovation.

There are several options for businesses to purchase new AI solutions, internet-of-things devices, and machine learning software, making adoption an easy fix. However, what separates the successful 12.5% of DX strategies from the rest is the ability to integrate with other companies to compound the benefits of the best in the market.

It is essential to recognise that every business is unique, necessitating a tailored approach to digital transformation that meets the specific needs of the organisation and its employees. Given the variety of requirements, organisations should customise their adoption plans and meticulously select technology tools to optimise success in their digital journey.