Employees needed to be trained to use technology to derive maximum benefit for the company from the investment. Picture: 123RF/ANDRIY POPOV
Employees needed to be trained to use technology to derive maximum benefit for the company from the investment. Picture: 123RF/ANDRIY POPOV

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, many organisations paid lip service to the need for digital transformation. But in 2020, as the pandemic forced businesses around the world to send their employees home, digital adoption was accelerated.

Digital transformation is not just about technology adoption but about providing employees with the digital tools, devices, and platforms to keep them productive, without sacrificing the imperatives of the business.

A recent Business Day Dialogue, in partnership with Altron People Solutions, discussed how digital adoption made the seemingly impossible possible a year ago, as lockdowns were enforced around the world. Moderator Aki Anastasiou said this new way of working is likely to persist in the future.

Futures specialist and strategist John Sanei said digital technologies are forcing us to redesign what work looks like, while efficiency and process-driven activities will be automated, requiring us to re-evaluate how we add value to the world.

Sanei said we live in a “surplus society” where everyone has similar qualifications, jobs and even lifestyles. However, as the structure of success and “winning” change, we are moving away from this surplus society. Businesses need to embrace the shift from globalisation and digitalisation to dispersion, where the focus was on flexible, personalised and tailormade experiences.

Many businesses are struggling to juggle their old way of working with their digital ambitions.

Sanei advised splitting management teams into “today teams” who focus on innovation, efficiency and modifications to the current business model; and “tomorrow teams” tasked with disrupting the current business model to create a new model. 

Altron People Solutions MD Priscilla Rampathi said there's no point in investing in technology solutions if the business have no intention of adopting it at all levels, which is why employees need to be upskilled to use it to derive a return on the investment. Businesses need to prioritise creating skillsets for the future and ensure employees bought into the vision of the business understand why the technology is necessary.

Businesses need to have a good understanding of the customer’s journey so they, too, can benefit from the adoption of technology.

Darryl Marcus, head of business development and CX enabling technologies at Altron People Solutions, said organisations need to ensure customers can still interact and engage with businesses and brands despite their adoption of digital technologies. They need to break down digital fortresses and create front doors to their business.

The panel members agreed that a digital transformation journey is not always an easy one. But given an irrevocably changed world, most businesses have no choice but to adopt digital technologies if they hope to remain sustainable.

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