The Killer App in Digital Transformation is “People”

Red Hat LogoEveryone is on a quest for digital leadership. But the reality is 75% of executives say they’re still waiting to reap tangible benefits from disruptive technologies. That’s why companies are investing vast amounts of money into new tools and technologies.

Yet well over half of all IT projects still fail. One of the reasons is that organizations tend to only focus on implementing a technology to solve a problem or move them forward. But new software, mobile apps, or cloud platforms alone can’t solve the challenges companies are facing in times of advancing digitization.

Rather, the key to successful digital transformation lies just as much in people, culture and new thought processes – as it does with technologies and tools.

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The killer app in digital transformation is the people who have to develop, use, and work with these new technologies. It is also people who have to pursue a company’s targets, which would otherwise come to nothing very quickly. And, anyone who regularly deals with project management has long known that projects generally fail because of people, not because of methods or tools.

Rather than putting technology first in your IT organization, start instead with culture, and an open culture at that.

So what does that mean exactly? Well, one of the most common “cultural blockers” is the hierarchical management style prevalent at many companies. The digital transformation process cannot be dictated from above.

While it is up to the CEO to set out a vision, each individual employee must believe in the transformation themselves. People need to feel like they can have an influence on the bigger picture. It is even more important to involve everyone in a project, to brainstorm new ideas together, and to also make decisions based on these ideas as a team.

Good ideas can come from anywhere and the best rise to the top. People should be able to come forward with their ideas without the fear of criticism. That’s why the biggest task facing management is creating a culture and management style that supports autonomy, empowerment, and active engagement.

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An open corporate culture is an equally indispensable prerequisite for eliminating widespread silo mentalities. Company objectives and overarching targets need to be pushed to the forefront, rather than the interests of individual departments and divisions.

Of course, it’s easy to always use the same people on projects. But why not involve the entire organization or all the people with whom you otherwise rarely or never work? Digital transformation needs to break down the barriers that have developed over the years. This is essential since data, knowledge, applications, and processes have to mesh and move seamlessly.

The fact is technology alone does not help drive forward digital transformation – it requires people who resolutely stand behind it. Communication between people is still paramount to being successful in the world of IT. Unfortunately, this is something that is often forgotten.

Forbes Insights (November 2018). The C-Suite Outlook: How Disruptive Technologies are Redefining the Role of Project Management.

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