For the first time in history we have four different generations simultaneously in the job market (Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Centennials), which naturally translates into a huge challenge given the different visions and ambitions that each group brings to the table. On the one hand, we have Baby Boomers, who are moving towards the end of their careers and tend to occupy decision-making positions, on the other hand, we have Digital Natives, with different motivations and highly proficient in tools that are not yet being used in their work environments.
This generational disparity instantly leads to questions such as: “if I manage my personal life through my Smartphone, why do I keep using paper forms or highly bureaucratic and confusing processes in my job?”.
Not placing the burden on any of these actors, but it is now a fact that we are experiencing an era of rapid and constant change, not comparable to any other historical times. As a quick example, the first iPhone was launched in 2007 and since then evolution is such that even machines communicate with each other and with the Cloud.
The concept of Digital Transformation comes naturally, driven by the need to accompany the accelerated technological development, but above all to help organizations frame and prioritize the main responsible parties for this development, People, Processes and Technology, exactly in that order!
Before going any further on the topic, it is imperative to ensure that we are on the same page: Digitization is not the same as Digital Transformation, since the first (divided into two terms – Digitization and Digitalization) limits the passage of data/information and/or processes to a digital format, while the second intends to reformulate entire business processes, making use of new technologies and innovation.
It then makes sense that Digital Transformation based on People, focuses on the reinvention of processes, but that it is obviously based on the implementation of the latest technologies.
As I previously suggested, the People aspect is, in fact, the most important pillar for organizations, as it is on people, and their interaction with processes and technologies, that lies the need to understanding the new logics of value generation and so directing their efforts in the right way. It is crucial to adjust the expectations of all stakeholders and understand the challenges inherent to generational confrontation, respecting what each individual can offer and, above all, making the transition process inclusive incorporating different ideas and proposals so everyone feels part of the change.
Business Processes represent all tasks or activities that, in a structured and coordinated way, guarantee the satisfaction of customer’s needs. They are the core of the organizations’ activities and so their efficiency and effectiveness is at the center of a company’s attention, being vital not to fall into the routine and constantly challenge the status quo, daring to criticize, redefine and innovate, always aiming for differentiation, sustainability and enhancing an organization’s value proposition.
I recall a phrase by Bill Gates that tells us that applying automation (or in a broader sense, new technologies) to an inefficient process will only magnify its inefficiency, which seems obvious, but is unfortunately a very common practice.
It is not possible to dissociate the processes from the technologies, since they are the ones that allow to break barriers and challenge the rules of the game, even though they are, in fact, ‘just’ the means to reach the objective.
That is why this new era will not be dominated by technologists alone – and I would like to apologize to my fellow technological colleagues as we will obviously have a fundamental role – but first and foremost will be led by the company’s aim for differentiation and sustainability that will work as the necessary glue and will push and justify the technological advances that are yet to come.
Organizations that insist on not recognizing that their main asset, people, are changing (as employees bringing new skillsets, visions and ambitions, but also as “customers”), will have a hard time reviewing their processes and recognizing the great potential brought by new technologies. Right now, being a field leader or having the most effective processes is no guarantee of survival, in a disruptive environment, and as Darwin already suggested in 1809, it will the quickest to respond to the change that will survive.
Digital transformation, and the technologies that support it, are already at an interesting stage of maturity to become the solutions of the present. It is necessary to drop the prejudice that they are nothing more than buzzwords, trust their abilities and go forward on their implementation while obviously respecting the best project management practices.
It is imperative to analyze and take into consideration the current status of the process, set an objective and, from there, build a journey, which may be incremental and should never neglect the famous financial ratios, which are often a crucial way to communicate with decision makers.
My experience in the implementation of digital transformation projects tells me that the spotlight is always placed on initiatives that can be disruptive, bringing extra responsibility and commitment towards the objective initially set. A failure can always lead to discredit and is therefore important to respect the various stages, involving people, assess solutions and partners according to specific criteria and finally guaranteeing a correct implementation, so that the project reaches its purpose – generating value for the organization!
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Duarte arrived at Affinity with the challenge of supporting Digital Transformation processes. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but it is in the business and IT areas that he truly feels accomplished! Interested in innovation, new technologies and other sources of knowledge, Duarte also enjoys a good timeout to practice his favorite sport - Basketball!