Digital Transformation (DX) is often described in terms of changing processes and incorporating emerging innovative technologies—with hopefully at least some lip service paid to the people bringing it all to fruition. Certainly, successful digital transformations require investments in technologies and processes that drive business value, but the core of any DX initiative is, ultimately, the hearts and minds behind it—your people.
People are unique. We’re likely the most adaptive species there is, with our progenitors managing to adapt to extreme climate shifts while dispersing all around the globe. So really, it’s common sense that an undertaking to adapt to an increasingly digital world should focus on the most adaptable pieces. Technology and its tools enable transformation initiatives that foster and empower ingenuity, allowing people to innovate and meet challenges with more resiliency.
The major driver compelling organizations to digitally transform is the rapid acceleration of data, connections, and disruptions. And this acceleration shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. It’s now impossible to digitally transform solely top-down, so a more horizontal approach is needed.
Employees need to know why
As employee engagement is integral to your transformation, one of, if not the, strongest ways to loop your people in is by explaining and agreeing on the strategy. Outlining your business’ strategy by explicitly framing goals and priorities is surely essential, but that’s only half of the equation. There must be a communicated purpose behind it that reaches all levels. It’s critical that everyone is able to articulate why, as a company, you are transforming your processes.
This is the only way successful organizations break through the vertical silos. Rather than hoping the message trickles down the management chain, there must be an effort to see that each leader’s goals are aligned with the company’s transformational goals. Doing so will help ensure that all employees can comfortably align with and participate in achieving these goals.
This sounds clear-cut—everyone knowing “why” is good—like a sports team all being on the same page of the game plan. It also means business is moving faster, with no time-outs needed for the coach to lecture the players—they are already in sync.
Culture of collaboration
Your team and team of teams need to be empowered to innovate within a culture that can change with them. This will require moving away from steadfast top-down verticality to horizontal network organizations where people at all levels are inspired to make transformative decisions rather than simply following along with business-as-usual.
Going back to sports for a moment, it’s good for players to have their roles to operate in as well as preset plays to react with—but it’s even better if they also have permission to experiment should they need to. They can react faster with solutions tailored to their situation, and this establishes more confidence in the team’s ability to collaborate in these moments, too.
Agility, flexibility, and a readiness to pivot are by-products of people who feel free to move, unrestricted by bureaucratic red tape and paralyzing fears of risk. Break people out of their shells—or functional silos—by organizing teams to promote and elevate cross-functional collaboration.
Evolution is not a process of leaps and bounds–it’s iterative. The word “transformation” speaks to a radical, dramatic change, and certainly, this is the end-goal of DX—an overhaul of your processes—but that doesn’t have to happen overnight. Nor must said processes be reinvented from the ground up. You’re looking for inefficiencies that are outdated and clunky. You’re looking to continually transform your business with platform technology at the core, which enables people to streamline processes and maximize their use of data and disrupt your own business.
Fixing your biggest obstacles and underlying data and processes incrementally is quite achievable. Additionally, a sustainable digital transformation should be able to handle the setbacks and small failures in an ongoing DX journey—because the steps forward are measured so that tripping up isn’t catastrophic. This way, progress is gradual but consistent.
Digital Thread, Resilient Platform
The right tools in the right hands make all the difference. Digital transformation is really about adapting to a rapidly changing digital landscape, therefore, you need to be as open, flexible, and agile as possible. The applications and processes should be built using your digital thread on a platform that can increase your business resiliency.
In the case of Aras, this is achieved with a resilient platform with customizable PLM applications built on an open, industrial, low-code platform. On top of all that, Aras provides subscribers with lifetime upgrades, so you stay current and are able transform when needed, especially incrementally.