Digital Transformation: There is a new driver in town

Jun 17, 2020
  • people
  • IT
  • operations
  • SAP

By Brian Riddell, Director, People & Organisation

There is an interesting meme doing the rounds that asks a very simple question: “who is leading your digital transformation?”

The answer, until recently would probably have been the CIO or CTO or even the CEO, but according to a recent McKinsey report, many companies now cite COVID-19 as the main driver for a digital revolution.

McKinsey reminds us that during previous recessions the companies that reacted quickest out of the downturn were ultimately the ones to show greatest levels of growth and future return on investment.

Of course, the human tragedy that surrounds us during this pandemic cannot be compared to any other post-war crisis, but there are some parallels to be had. When in crisis mode, invariably this is when creativity and innovation come to the fore: the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention” may well have been written for these times.

This blog was originally drafted in early March as part of delaware’s ‘Future of Work’ initiative. At the time, for most organisations, discussions around digital transformation largely evolved around productivity improvements, the need to attract and retain key skills and talent or process transformation through the adoption of machine learning, RPA or other technologies.

Today, as we strive to find new post-pandemic pathways, and we begin the slow-path towards recovery, our roadmap for digital transformation, has changed dramatically. Our workplaces, offices and working relationships are being radically reassessed. At no time in our history have we faced the working challenges we face today and as we begin this return, companies that can bounce forward rather than re-boot from where they were at the start of lockdown are commonly regarded as the ones likely to succeed.

Digital transformation is no longer a question simply for the CEO or CIO to contemplate; it’s not a journey that we need to consider: we have all been driven into a new digital era whether we like it or not. Just look at the usage figures for Zoom and Teams over the last few months and the explosion in homeworking which for many of us will continue to be our long-term primary workplace for some time. Businesses now face unprecedented challenges that they must tackle in order to protect and support health and welfare in this new world.

This, for many companies, will bring about a realisation that the impact on our working lives has already hit and we must learn to work and operate differently. Three months ago, our discussions with clients might have been around helping them to define and embark on a transformation journey, whereas today the question is likely to be more direct: how do I accelerate digital adoption? The pace of change has itself changed, and whilst there may still be room for some prototyping and experimentation, companies typically do best when they are growing.

The companies that will come through this the best are likely to be the ones that move quickest and scale-up on their digital adoption.
To achieve this goal will of course require investment and that can be hard to get at this time, but many organisations are quickly recognising that in order to make the leap forward they may have to initially look backwards and re-assess the quality of data and processes in their current systems.

Establishing ‘Brilliant Basics’

If we stick with the widely held view that COVID-19 may be the catalyst for businesses moving more rapidly towards digitalisation, it is worth considering for a moment what steps you can take now to accelerate and get yourself ready for transformation.

One of the common mistakes made around digital adoption is the assumption that it is all about the technology. There shouldn’t be any surprises here: it isn’t. Neither should adoption be seen just as an IT issue. If you are looking to move your people, your brand or even your customers online, every department in your business has a role to play.

Technology should be the enabler; it can never, on its own, deliver the solution. Through the adoption of digital technology, you can indeed transform a business process, but it will only succeed if you have and can quickly provide the accurate data to support it.

The need for quality data is therefore paramount and for many organisations, particularly within their people systems, the journey towards digital may need to start with a move to a more simplified and standardised HCM database; and today that means cloud transformation.

Even for organisations with an established cloud HCM platform, for example SAP SuccessFactors, we still find customers reporting poor quality data issues, with the system itself being blamed for this. However, the problem is often caused by issues relating to user performance, bad data input, lack of adherence to process or even poor adoption or resistance against global standardised processes.

The upshot of this is of course if you have poor quality data, and you cannot easily identify who your people are, where they are located or what they do, therefore you will undoubtably face downstream issues.

Companies that recognise this are therefore embarking on business improvement programmes. We are currently working with one of our customers, a global manufacturing organisation, to deliver a business improvement programme called ‘Brilliant Basics’. The objectives of this programme are simple and delivered across two phases. The first phase sets out to re-establish trust and confidence in the HR systems and processes ensuring that data quality, processes and system adoption issues are all addressed. This opens the door for the second phase, which brings opportunities and greater flexibility for new functionality and digital adoption based on a solid foundation.

This sounds simple, and it can be, but this can provide organisations with less obvious challenges, none more so than getting stakeholders or key users to accept that there is a problem to fix. Therefore, it is fundamentally important to focus on the root cause of the problem rather than simply running an exercise to audit and correct anomalies. 

At delaware, we can offer you a wide range of support services and solutions to get you ready for your leap forward.We are passionate about the future of work. How your people operate, and function today will have been based on decisions taken in the past. In our current climate especially, it has never been more important for you to consider how your organisation might look in the future, but to do that you may need to firstly reconsider and re-evaluate exactly where you are today.

SAP SuccessFactors Data Integrity Check

SAP SuccessFactors is a great product which we believe, quite rightly holds its place as a market-leader in its field. Sometimes however, like many systems before it, it just doesn’t seem to be delivering the value you expected. This doesn’t mean that the solution you have, or the investment you have made is necessarily wrong.

An investment in cloud-based technology means that rather than measuring success at the point where you go-live with your solution, the real value and benefit is achieved through a process of continuous improvement. This is the real ‘game-changer’ that drives true value realisation in your Cloud investment.

If you are a SAP SuccessFactors customer with issues around data quality or lack of trust in the accuracy of your SAP SuccessFactors system, then you need to address these issues quickly.

Desk booking app

Protecting your people is mission critical, and organisations have a responsibility to ensure workforce protection measures are put in place. Within delaware, we have rolled out a COVID-19 desk booking app to manage and control access to our offices worldwide, and we are now offering this to our customers. The app enables compliance with social distancing rules for companies who want to open their offices to employees again but with reduced capacity to minimise the spread of COVID-19.