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Digital Transformation in the Workplace

by Siv Rauv

21 Dec 2019

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Digital transformation in the workplace is about making processes more efficient in order to provide added value services to customers in competitive industries. It’s also about keeping up with industry trends and staying relevant in a digital landscape. Organisations need to integrate the concepts behind and understand the digital workplace into their company focus and daily operations in order to succeed.

Many large organisations are undergoing digital transformations right now. Paul Shetler, Chief Digital Officer at the Australian Government Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), posted an article on LinkedIn highlighting his team 16 month journey leading Australia digital transformation. Their focus was on upgrading and redesigning various government services and processes which citizens and business owners alike rely on.

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Platforms to Achieve Digital Transformation

The overarching solution for the DTA six deliverables was to “introduce common platforms to government, because platform design is essential to creating 21st century digital services for citizenry”. Good platform design allowed the DTA to make the case for digital transformation in the Australian government, but this solution works outside of government agencies just as well.

This meant they were able to target problem areas and efficiently develop an all-encompassing system of their services. For small, medium or large organisations, adopting platform structures “reduces duplication and cost, makes services more efficient, easier to update and refine and far quicker to build”. Perhaps most importantly, “It frees up the people building the services to focus far more on how citizens needs can be best met”. This is one of the top advantages of digital transformation.

Common platform implementation:

  • Allows employees to focus on talking to customers
  • Allows employees to gain a greater understanding of customer needs and issues

The DTA work “... helped prove to government that it really can deliver simple, clear, fast services that meet users' actual needs, which, once we remove all the jargon, is really what “digital transformation” means.”

There are tools in the market to achieve greater automation and efficiency in the workplace but if organisations don’t begin to implement these ideas, its value and employees suffer and managers miss the opportunity to advance alongside their competitors and become leaders in their industry. Organisations must create a digitally connected and collaborative work environment or risk being left behind.

The DTA has begun an ambitious service to reshape government ICT procurement with a number of platforms that reflect the benefits of a digital workplace:

  • The Digital Marketplace contains “42 opportunities, 252 approved sellers and 241 registered buyers”, encouraging new ideas and development.
  • A Performance Dashboard makes it easier to understand “how well government services are performing”.
  • And cloud.gov.au is a platform that makes it easier “for government to take advantage of the cloud to operate digital services”.

The DTA is involved in many other projects and services. Read more about the agency here.


Digital Transformation in the Digital Workplace


Issues in the way of Digital Transformation

While they have achieved a great amount of success in a short space of time, the team was also able to gain a valuable understanding of the factors that could have affected the digital transformation process. Organisations should be aware of the common issues faced by others to ensure their own digital transformation is based on well-educated decisions and proven practices.

Shetler states, “The blockers to positive transformation are structural, cultural and skills-based”. While the issues raised by Shetler are related to government, they apply to almost any organisation.

Structural issues might include:

  • End user interactions - too many departments, teams or tiers might be involved in one process, making it hard for the end user to get what they need as they are passed from person to person.
  • Structural complexity - undefined or complex structures to handle certain processes making it difficult for an interdepartmental understanding of the bigger picture.
  • Focus on human APIs - workers in back offices performing repetitive processes that are a waste of resources and talent.

Cultural issues might include:

  • Stagnating - a reluctance to change inefficient processes and systems because they are what workers are used to.
  • Complex processes - the focus is shifted from getting a good outcome to completing the process accurately.

Skills-based issues might include:

  • Always restructuring - IT systems and services are often passed from provider to provider in an effort to find the best fit or correct a problem. This can create complex webs of systems that cost a lot to operate, and take a long time to change.
  • Always building - new processes ultimately cannot be built into the complex system, so new systems are built on the side, creating an expensive and inefficient environment that is not scalable or flexible.

If any of these issues sound relevant to your organisation, changing aspects of the company culture or existing processes will give you a better chance at achieving digital transformation success.

While transforming the digital workplace, it also important to drive workforce change and integrate new ideas into the existing organisational culture.

Building Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation in the Modern Workplace

Digital transformation means:

  • Getting closer to users
  • Rigorously measuring performance
  • Understanding what isn't working and acting to change and improve
  • Freeing up workers so they can focus on higher value tasks and talking to customers
  • Embracing technological advancements and using them to create impact in your organisation
  • Becoming a flexible organisation or business (processes and systems are easy to modify and adapt to changes) which is key to being above relevant
  • Making it easier to design, test and produce improvements to services
  • Reaching a greater audience who are ready and willing to work with 21st century service delivery
  • Providing simple, easy and effective services
  • Training the workforce to be digitally savvy

To achieve these points, organisations must recognise a need to transform from the inside out; the process won’t be easy but it will be worth it.

Shetler explains, “Without that mandate to change, it naive to expect an organisation that is very comfortable with its way of working to decide to spontaneously transform itself”. The DTA has worked towards transforming the Australian government for 16 months and they have already achieved so much. Imagine what your organisation could achieve thanks to a digital transformation.

What Next?

We strongly recommended you watch the webinar 'Thriving Digital Workplaces: Best Practices for Success' or download the free guide 'How to Build a Productive & Engaged Digital Workplace'.

We take a closer look at how to implement a thriving digital workplace step-by-step. You'll discover best practices to help your staff succeed this year and beyond.

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