The people part of digital transformation is crucial


Enterprises are struggling to find workers with the skills and experience to help them succeed in the digital economy. Developers, cybersecurity professionals, data analysts, and more tech-oriented workers are in short supply, forcing organizations to pay top dollar for fresh talent, invest in upskilling current employees, or both.

All of which makes for a demand-driven job market that benefits employees. Unfortunately, analyst firm Forrester Research concludes in a recent report, some enterprises will miss the mark in their efforts to attract, retain, and get the most out of their skilled workers.

“In 2019, low unemployment and high quit rates will further magnify the importance of talent,” writes Forrester in Predictions 2019: Transformation goes pragmatic. “Executives will reignite change management efforts, substituting targeted EX [employee experience] initiatives for the previous year’s broad-based culture efforts.”

Those “broad-based culture efforts,” according to Forrester, were “created within — and governed within — the existing siloed and political environment, which ultimately protected the status quo.”

Note to enterprise decision-makers: If your goal is digital transformation, protecting the status quo is about the worst thing you could do. One Workplace of the Future reader made this very point in response to a post about whether the “tech talent shortage” really exists writing: “I am witnessing IT executives lamenting the shortage of skilled workers while they struggle to fill antiquated positions linked to an org model that isn’t designed for the future – a future where different skills and fewer hands are needed.”

Unfortunately, Forrester concludes, targeted EX initiatives probably won’t be a panacea:

“The lack of coherence to the efforts will yield a mixed bag of results. Efforts to address the crisis of workplace distractions will increase both employee satisfaction and productivity by helping workers better focus on their most important work. But the onslaught of misguided and incomplete employee measurement efforts will degrade, rather than improve, employee experiences.”

Forrester predicts a whopping 85% of EX measurement efforts will fail, representing a huge waste of time, resources, and potential opportunities. There’s an additional cost to degrading the employee experience by subjecting workers to “misguided and incomplete” measurement metrics: It is likely to trigger a talent exodus. Which will only make things worse!

The bottom line is that digital transformation is as much about people as technology. Just as CIOs must prepare their network infrastructures to embrace emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and more, enterprises must ensure they have the right organization models, business processes, and personnel policies in place to enable their employees to drive digital transformation efforts.

That means giving them the tools they need to do their jobs, prioritizing flexibility and adaptability, and avoiding counterproductive measurement efforts that antagonize more than they illuminate. You can’t build the workplace of the future using yesterday’s blueprint.


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