Communication, collaboration leadership fuels digital transformation

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Businesses today exist on the frontlines of digital transformation, in which increased automation changes how companies do everything, from processing data to interacting with clients.

On its own, this is clearly a challenge; businesses don’t necessarily do well with change, but there’s one approach that can significantly improve the chances that a company’s digital transformation will be a success.

It all comes down to communication. When staff from different sectors know how to communicate and collaborate across traditional divisions, the result is a much smoother digital transformation process.

Communication and Digital Competencies

One of the major reasons that communication is so important to a successful digital transformation is that the transformation process redistributes how companies use technology. Rather than a system in which only the IT department needs to have advanced technology skills, digital transformation demands company-wide expertise, but that rarely exists.

Indeed, as we’ve reported before, research into the digital transformation process shows that 65% of companies struggle with a digital competency gap – and it’s holding them back.

Enhancing interdepartmental communication can help businesses overcome competency shortfalls by allowing team members to cross-train, sharing skills and working together to remove information silos. While some workers will never be tech geniuses, they can gain the skills necessary to be successful with new, automation-forward tools.

Expanding the Concept of Collaboration

When businesses say that communication is one of the major barriers to their digital transformation’s success, they don’t just mean communication between individuals or teams. Part of the transformation process, in fact, is helping staff understand that they also need to communicate and work with the new tech – it isn’t just a tool, but a partner.

With digital transformation driving the shift toward new skills, such as creativity and adaptability, businesses should encourage team members to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and build up the soft skills that technology can’t replace.

In the same vein, individuals who primarily demonstrate strengths in soft skill areas need support to build the technical skills necessary to collaborate with experienced IT professionals and use new tools well. It’s not helpful to have staff who are intimidated by the technology that’s supposed to help them do their jobs, yet it happens every day, and the pace of change during a major digital transformation can be untenable for individuals who have previously worked largely in public-facing roles.

Create Excitement Around Transformation

While we can stress the importance of communication, collaboration, and re-skilling, questions still remain. Specifically, what happens when staff aren’t motivated to adapt to this new, tech-forward professional world?

That fact is, it can be hard to convince staff that they need to change how they do their jobs or make some other type of lateral shift; their job is no longer what they signed on to do. In order to drive transformation, you need to get staff excited about the process.

A lot of staff – people who have successfully done their jobs with minimal technology up until now – think that the digital transformation process is overhyped; can it really do everything their companies are telling them?

The answer is yes – and no. New technology can only move businesses forward if staff members are willing to implement the systems, explore new features, and to fail occasionally. Managers need to be prepared for those failures, while also setting measurable goals along with supports that help workers learn the skills necessary to meet those goals. The process can’t be passive. Staff need to inject some energy into their shift towards greater automation.

Though the concept of communicating and collaborating with technology may still be foreign to workers, we’re all starting to do it, even in subtle ways. From digital assistant devices and voice search to the rise in home automation, the next generation of worker is already prepared for the digital future. For now, though, employers need to bridge the skills gap and demonstrate that the new shape of work benefits everyone.

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