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Digital Transformation: What are the Priorities of Companies?

The digital transformation is maturing, and companies are on the front line. This is how it translates concretely.

In a recent Digital Change Survey of 750 professionals from different industries, 80% of them consider themselves able to take advantage of digital transformation. Even more impressive, 89% of respondents say they have the financial resources to carry out digital projects, which shows that large companies have understood the need to invest in disruptive technologies. But in which objectives do they invest? For which activities can they see benefits? And how do they make all their employees adhere to these changes?

Businesses need to focus on productivity gains

The study shows that more than a quarter (27%) of companies believe that the digital transformation makes them more competitive and gives them an undeniable competitive advantage. 29% consider that the main benefit of the digital transformation is “the acceleration innovation “and 28% openness to “growth opportunities in new markets”.

All this is inspiring. In the long run, businesses that rely on digital transformation for their strategic growth objectives make the best use of technology opportunities. They understood how technology can help them turn seemingly non-strategic tactical issues (e.g., how often to maintain equipment) into key differentiators. But these companies are a minority!

In fact, 47% of respondents still consider that the main benefits of digital transformation are “improving the efficiency of internal processes”. This raises the question of whether companies fully realize the potential that disruptive technologies can bring them.

Innovation can make or break a business and, study after study, becomes a high-level priority. So why does not it seem to be considered as a vector of digital transformation? Given the technological investments made, this could mean that the majority of investments are made to improve the efficiency of internal processes rather than to foster innovation.

A winning spirit with the counterpart of the fear of change

Despite many positive trends, the study reveals that for 42% of companies “aversion to change” is the main barrier to their digital transformation. Companies need to think seriously about how to deploy and use disruptive technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), but also how to communicate user benefits to their employees in order to make them adhere to this Indeed, the most successful transformations are those that have won the support of all the teams of the company and which are led by the employees. This membership is essential for such projects.

Opportunities for growth and improvement must be communicated clearly and openly to each profession. Take the example of deploying IoT to perform predictive maintenance on the company’s equipment. This project may be poorly accepted by the technicians responsible for this activity.

Rather than only highlighting the benefits in the short term (improvement of internal business processes), the company will then have to demonstrate to them the interest of this strategy in the long term: increase of competitiveness, acceleration of innovation or still opportunities for growth in new markets.

Digital transformation, like many other major change projects, must win the support of all employees involved. It must be managed on a human scale and in a long-term logic in order to remain competitive. Thus, it is vital to consider the company as a whole and the digital transformation as strategic and a source of new opportunities rather than tactical and destructive.

Recruit and develop skills to take advantage of all the benefits of technology

One in three is “unprepared” from the point of view of the skills required to carry out digital transformation projects. Agile companies know how to identify candidates’ digital potential and their appetite for such projects. How can others fill this lack of resources? Reflecting on how the company’s structure should be developed to foster digital development. For large companies, there is the possibility to create new departments dedicated to digital projects thus generating analytical skills and stimulate them internally.

By making an inventory of the digital skills already present in the company and those sought: it is necessary to train teams in data management and analysis to succeed in a digital project. The company must identify the technology that will be the key to its development. The HR teams must then deploy, if necessary, training plans for existing employees in order to increase their skills and also recruit new talent according to identified needs.

By working with leading schools and universities, both to attract new talent and to work together on training programs to be implemented so that the training provided to students is in tune with industrial needs. Internships and work-study programs also provide a fundamental experience for students and allow companies to discover talents that will enable them to perform better.

The three pillars of success – What does the company need to focus on?

Three pillars enable the success of digital transformation: technology, investment and employees.

The technological aspect is often mastered successfully because it is driven by experts whose missions are clearly identified. The main challenge is to know which technology to focus on to generate a transformation at the right time. The company must therefore ask itself if it wants to be a pioneer and take a risk or wait for the technology to become more mature.

In terms of investments, the study showed that companies consider investing sufficiently in the digital transformation. But do they focus on the appropriate areas? The results indicate that there is a strong focus on process efficiency.

Humans are a key factor, yet they are often forgotten in digital transformation projects. This is important both from the point of view of skills and communication. If more than 40% of companies consider that “aversion to change” is their main obstacle, communication with employees is crucial to ensure that they understand the value of the project and how it will affect them in order to win their membership. It is time for each company to consider where it should focus its efforts to build these three pillars and thus succeed in its digital transformation project.

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