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Why business leaders need to embrace digital transformation to drive growth

By Ben Fletcher at Velocity²

 Over the last few months, businesses have had to adapt to the changing landscape and as a result, have had to review strategies to overcome the crisis. The current climate has meant business leaders have had to fully embrace digital transformation sooner than most had planned, in order to keep businesses running smoothly during this turbulent time.

Advances in technology are happening at a breakneck speed and keeping up with it can be a challenge. In order to survive during these times, it is crucial that business leaders not only focus on technology but also the people. People play a key role in any transformation and therefore without them, a digital transformation will simply fail. Looking at ways technology can enable different ways of working for employees will help businesses become more efficient and remain competitive.

People and work culture

 As with many aspects of company success, the culture within a business is reflected through its performance and results. A survey by McKinsey highlights that 87% of executives are experiencing a skills gap in their workforce or are expecting one within the next few years. As a result, it is crucial that these business leaders embrace new skills to fully equip their workforce. Leadership development and performance management should be designed to support a company’s desired culture and as digitalisation becomes more apparent in the business world, this should be integrated into a company’s ethos to drive growth and stay on top in the current climate. As organisations look to redefine how they create value within their company, many are looking to digital technologies to keep on top of transformation and to get the most out of their employees.

It’s important to align the developments in digital transformation with employees values and behaviours, to help the company culture understand and embrace digital changes. Failure to align the goals of digital transformations can create additional risks, such as low morale amongst employees and the inability to retain employees, ultimately affecting the overall performance of the business and inhibiting future growth.

Employee collaboration

With remote working here to stay, business leaders are tasked with finding ways for teams to collaborate and communicate effectively. Without the proper tools, collaboration can be hard to foster in the workplace, particularly during a time where face to face communication has essentially been put on pause. Businesses need to have access to a number of platforms and online communication tools to make sure their employees are still collaborating by working in a team and sharing knowledge. These platforms include Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom for communication, and Google Docs and Creativity 365 for content creating and sharing, just to name a few.

Technological benefits

 Business leaders can embrace digital transformation through the likes of Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation and cloud applications. These applications provide ways for businesses to identify tasks that are best suited to automation through sophisticated predictive intelligence, allowing humans to concentrate on tasks that machines cannot replicate. This can provide a boost in productivity across a company and amongst employees, whilst also increasing flexibility as it allows for extra time to focus on other tasks.

Artificial intelligence creates many opportunities such as automating customer reactions through emails, social media conversations and even telephone calls, as well as real-time assistance and predicting outcomes. At the beginning of 2020, 37% of businesses adopted Artificial Intelligence as a method of completing tasks within the workplace. With the sudden turn of events this year, this percentage will only increase in the months to come.

In addition, the use of cloud applications helps to keep information in sync and for tasks to be completed simultaneously, creating further ease for businesses and enabling the completion of tasks at a faster rate. Through the adoption of cloud-hosted workplaces, businesses are able to offer their employees a seamless process, allowing them to integrate all their applications into one single web-based workspace.

The future of digital transformation

With the future for businesses feeling uncertain, businesses must prepare for a post-COVID world through the adoption of automation and developments in digitalisation. This is something that has already been put into practice across many companies with the rise in remote working and the importance of cloud-based platforms to share knowledge and information.

As there is still no known end date to the pandemic, there is enough time for businesses to re-evaluate operations and practices to ensure their company goes into the post-pandemic era in as efficient and robust shape as possible. While nobody knows when ‘normality’ will be restored, business leaders can take a range of measures in the meantime to drive growth. It’s likely that working methods won’t ever return to how they used to be before the coronavirus pandemic and digital transformation will continue to lead the way for successful businesses, meaning companies that don’t adapt to this will fall behind. People are essential to this digital transformation and they must learn to adapt to the fast changing landscape and develop new skills that are better suited to, what could be, a new digital age of industry.

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