Digital culture: The digital transformation success factor

"HR leadership must recognize digital culture as the key enabler in an organization’s digitization initiatives."Visweswara Rao, SVP, Chief HR Officer, CSS Corp


Digital megatrends such as mobility, social media, analytics, and cloud computing are re-defining businesses worldwide. These trends are also having its impact in the way employees and people leaders interact, work, and collaborate. Mobility and cloud computing are enabling remote access of talent pools and expertise across geographies, analytics is enabling deeper insights into employee performances and behaviors, and social media can drive collaboration between employees by strengthening the employer brand. These advancements are disruptive and senior HR leadership must recognize digital culture as the key enabler in an organization’s digitization initiatives. Though a strong digital strategy is essential, a digital culture is equally needed to successfully execute the strategy. A Mckinsey study reveals culture as the significant barrier to digital effectiveness. 9 out of 10 digital transformations do not meet the business needs, says a Couchbase survey. By ignoring culture, organizations can heighten the risk of failure in digital transformation.

Enabling a digital culture
Creating a digital culture is a task in itself. Organizations should blend executive and employee level change management approaches to engage and inspire the entire workforce while empowering them to drive the cultural change together. When blending these approaches, it is recommended to have a transformation framework to monitor the progress through a clear vision with active leadership participation. The framework should make employees as the agents of change and empower them to drive the digital culture. The empowerment can happen by re-skilling them on trending digital skills, leverage collaboration tools to improve productivity, have metrics to enable measurable value through KPI’s and adopt a systems thinking approach to drive change more effectively. By making this framework operational, organizations can enable innovation, faster decision making, improve business readiness, and facilitate behavioral changes in employees. These steps can help in the evolution of a creative, collaborative, autonomous ecosystem which can be an attractive destination for quality talents. A digital culture can lead to a high-performance working environment enabling productivity and fostering better business strategy alignment between teams.

Drive employee centricity
Digitizing the culture can make employees more aligned to a customer’s journey; this can enable customer-centric engagements and in creating better solutions relevant to their business needs. It can bring in a work culture which empowers employees to make informed, context-aware decisions, focus on continuous improvement and take calculated risks. Heightened collaboration and increased speed in decision making in a digital environment promotes research through continuous iteration of innovative ideas, while building transparency and interaction across various levels of the hierarchy. Companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and IBM are able to disrupt the technology world through their widely acclaimed digitized cultures which are conducive to innovation and driving thought leadership. Telekom Malaysia Berhad drives an internal event, called Digital Day to communicate the importance of digitization. During this event R&D and digital experts share their knowledge on digital culture and its relevance.

The success guarantee
So, how can companies avoid pitfalls while shifting towards a digital culture? Leaders should be the torchbearers of digital change. They should clearly define the behaviors of employees by choosing characteristics of the culture they want to establish based on organizational goals and purpose. They should lead by example and continuously assess change to identify any gaps or slippages. 

Best culture practices from various industries can be blended with the current ones to create a new employee behavioral patterns in a digital ecosystem. Driving pilot programs is also a proven way to enable culture change, this can be done to elicit new behaviors, and bring in new performance review criteria to improve accountability and decision making. Based on the success of the pilot, leaders can make the changes before announcing any transformation initiatives.

Culture - A digital success factor It is clear that leaders should be cognizant of the fact that they can unlock the true potential of digital transformation by ingraining a sustainable digital culture which is employee-centric and value-focused. Change in employee behavior is a predominant factor in enabling the digital shift and when executed with clarity and purpose, organizations can make this cultural identity an indispensable competitive advantage.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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