Opinion

Digital Transformation is a “People First And Technology Second” Strategy

Digital Transformation is a “People First And Technology Second” Strategy

Any discussion on a digital transformation of an organization ushers in the emerging technology wordage and a good amount of time goes in insistence on emerging technologies enabling the next era in the enterprise journey. Quite agreeable an argument, but it still is an insufficient condition given that any system is a function of people, process, technologies, data and metrics and not just one alone.

Over the last few decades, system engineering was focused on process automation and data management and technologies were enabling these focal points in any enterprise. Users were an important part of this journey but never a cynosure of the drive. The investments made were towards building efficiencies and productivity in the organization towards its operations and decision making. The change management was held around process re-engineering. The people aspects were more towards skill building for user comfort and their understanding of the systems. The investments paid dividends as organizations became lean and competitive leveraging technologies.

At the turn of this decade, the new set of emerging technologies brought a contrasting difference from what we have witnessed for the last two decades. The example mix of mobility, cloud, AR/VR content, UX and commoditization of Internet bandwidth happened simultaneously with the arrival of new age consumers called Millennials. They exhibited a far deeper affinity to these new-age technologies than generations of the past. These millennials, while were a set of differently responsive consumers in the markets, they were also turning a new leaf in the book of human capital working at different strata in the industry.

The expanse of Internet evolved to see new age business solutions around FinTech, e-commerce, Artificial Intelligence, etc. thus enabling markets of new dimensional behaviors generally identified with online consumers. The organizations hitherto restricting to B2B business models with recognizing channel entities as the last mile of their sale chains have started to acknowledge that B2C is an inseparable part of their strategy and execution models. The enterprises are closer to analyzing consumer/employee behavior made of digital profiling. Both entities carry different attributes but are built on one foundation that core of digital transformation of an enterprise is the change seen in the people personalities.

The accelerated availability of the emerging technologies is at best a catalyst but not the cornerstone of the digital transformation. The digital transformation strategy has therefore to be built around “people first” and “technologies second” model for any enterprise to make best out of the investments.

In today’s age, people carry a twin component of profile – physical and digital. The traditional profile built on the responses of the physical world is complemented with new age profile of digital mode – built and constantly influenced by emergence of digital medium. The younger the person, the higher is the influence of digital persona on the behaviors of the individual largely because the new benchmarks settle in early in formative years. The role of an individual may vary from being an employee to being a consumer – but the importance of the existence of the digital persona can’t be dismissed. Organizations investing millions of dollars in their enterprise transformation will have to seriously explore this component of digital persona and its maturity index before assuming that investments will pay off.

The first argument is that digital is no more about process automation but about business transactions involving an active consumer on the other end, who brings in a personal touch far more than ever felt by an enterprise. The second is that consumer is far easily accessible to every competitor thanks to freedom enjoyed by the Internet and its far improved affordability through commoditization of bandwidth and end-user devices. The third is that the awakened consumer walks inside your enterprise sometimes even as an employee and that hangover of digital suaveness is reciprocated in day-to-day work and expectations in functional working. It is argued therefore that understanding a digital personality type of this individual may help organizations better handle the stimulus response management and stay meaningfully and effectively engaged.

A research work done by me as part of my scholar program throws an interesting correlation between personalities attributes which makes an individual digital savvy. The type indicators of these personalities are best drawn upon seven influencer attributes – updated, confident, connected, curious, efficient and experimentative (let us say UCCCEE © framework). The individual score can vary on a given binary scale and based upon that a DQME-Type-Indicator © signifies the maturity index of the individual towards handling a stimulus generated on a digital medium. The enterprises will find their interventions pay better returns if instead of mass action – a personalized
intervention is taken in terms of development, product positioning or role plays in org structure.

Similarly, the focused and personalized engagement with a target customer can help in better returns if digital media stimulus is a curated one based upon an individual’s digital persona. The digital transformation journey currently being pursued is heavily tilted towards technology investments and innovative re-engineering of business process / models. Quite likely they will move the cheese but far-reaching changes would be possible if we also bring in the people side of investments – either as employee or a customer or even the society in which we operate.

The investments made along side a maturity index of organization or a people will pay far better returns than the current model of technology-led programs. Are we going to see the entry of HR professionals as chief digital officer is a question on the way forward?

The author is President and Group CIO at Welspun group. He is also a research scholar at NIIT University and his areas of academic interest include digital persona and its influence on consumer behaviors. The UCCCEE framework and DQME-Type-Indicator is a copyright work of his and for details may be contacted on rahulshandilya2012@gmail.com

6 Comments
  1. Anurag Garg 3 weeks ago
    Reply

    It’s really a well thought argument and in a way I am in agreement with this. If I can look around and take a sample case of a bit less successful project, absence of digital persona is one of the factor.

  2. Rachna 3 weeks ago
    Reply

    Excellent Rahul. Much needed area of focus. The data and insights will definitely be useful for companies shaping themselves for and into the digital space.

  3. Ratnesh 3 weeks ago
    Reply

    Great way to decipher internal and external customer’s digital journey and empowring them with right information at the right time and at the right place.
    In our constant quest to create best connected and empowered worker in warehouses at the backend to in-store sales associate understanding of digital persona goes a long way in designing solutions and enabling real time actionable intelligence.
    Great insights!

  4. Kashish Soni 3 weeks ago
    Reply

    Nice insight, very relevant in today’s business environment.

  5. Kashish Soni 3 weeks ago
    Reply

    Nice insight, very relevant in today’s business environment.

  6. Dilip Pal 2 weeks ago
    Reply

    Very interesting, eye opener and well researched article. You are absolutely true that most of the organization’s digital transformation initiatives still focused on process improvement, efficiency and implementing new Technologies. They succeed to some extent but not in leaps. Reason, missing piece of customer’s digital persona

    The ‘UCCCEE’ framework to gauge Digital Personality sounds very interesting. If you could share more details on this. But, I strongly feel that it should be part of digital transformation strategy.

    Thanks for this wonderful article.

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