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Three must-have conversations on your digital transformation journey

Every company has a unique reason for going through digital transformation. Some of these transformations are specific to one area or department. For example, one business may focus on transforming the mailroom to improve how employees receive mail in the company's preferred time, location and format; another may take on a paper-light initiative to keep up with their more eco-friendly competitors.

Then there are companies that embrace enterprise-wide digital transformation, overhauling all of their departments and branches to empower employees with more speed to act by helping them effectively utilize digital technologies — significantly increasing productivity and efficiency across the entire organization.

Here we'll look at three important conversations you should have to help ensure you get on and stay on the right path during your digital transformation journey.

1. Define your digital transformation maturity level

Gerald C. Kane, professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management, defines digital maturity as “the process of your company learning how to respond appropriately to the emerging digital competitive environment."¹ Assessing where you are in the digital transformation journey now will provide insight into your company's digital maturity level as compared to competitors that are disrupting the marketplace with innovative products, services and processes. This will also help you understand how to move forward in order to compete with these companies.

To kick off this process, leadership should partner with IT to assess the technologies employees are currently using to:

  • Move information and ideas.

  • Collaborate both onsite and remotely.

  • Deliver products and/or services.

  • Communicate with partners and clients.

Some companies may find that they're overrun with paper and file cabinets, and don't have a lot of technology that empowers employees to manage documents digitally. Others may find that they already have a lot of digital technology in place to do just that: These companies show a higher digital maturity level than their paper-driven counterparts. In response to what they learn during this process, they may choose a path that helps them to automate processes by utilizing their available digital information. The hypothetical paper-driven company, on the other hand, may start their journeys by choosing to focus on reducing paper workflows through digitization.

The following questions can help you to further hone your unique path:

  • Should the transformation be limited in focus to one or two areas or should it be more broad in scope?

  • How will employee positions change throughout the journey?

  • What processes and areas of your business will the transformation affect?

These questions will also help you determine your employees' digital maturity levels — providing insight into the change management training that will be necessary to bring them in line with your digital transformation.

2. Increase productivity by empowering hybrid employee skill-sets

To guide your second conversation, begin by asking the following question:

How can we provide employees with more diverse skill-sets?

Research by Gallup indicates that just a third of employees in the United States are engaged at work.² Expectations about convenient technology that matches or exceeds the experience employees enjoy with smart devices and other personal technologies may be partly to blame. However, a larger culprit may be the lack of tools that enable employees to increase their productivity, easily perform a variety of tasks and innovate with data insights. If employees aren't empowered to act quickly and share information efficiently, they can get discouraged.

Investigating your employees' maturity models in step one also provides more visibility into their current roles. Use this visibility to help boost hybrid skill-sets by seeking ways to save employees time for other projects — such as automating administrative tasks to reduce “busy work." From there, you can consider additional jobs your employees will need to be able to perform to meet your business goals, as well as effective digital tools that can help expand their current roles.

In today's digital world, employees need a variety of different skills to help ensure your company can keep up with competitors — especially those competitors that are disrupting the marketplace. By increasing your employees' skill-sets, you also help them to become better collaborative partners with one another, with your clients and with your business partners — improving your company's chances to disrupt the marketplace and become an industry leader in your own right.

3. Change the way you think about information governance

In many areas of business, especially when it comes to digital transformation and digital technologies, we tend to establish mental models — or points of view — that keep us from fully comprehending the value of these transformations and technologies. When it comes to information governance, the tendency is to think of it in terms of data security and regulatory compliance. However, there's far more to it than that — including many attributes that can help direct your digital transformation journey.

Prioritize your conversation about information governance on people, processes and technologies rather than security and compliance by asking the following questions:

  • What policies and procedures are in place to help ensure uniformity company-wide?

  • How will these policies and procedures need to change to support your digital transformation?

  • How are people, processes and technologies currently governed across the organization?

You should also discuss ways to use information governance to create a common organizational language to help guide people during and beyond your digital transformation journey. To effectively transform, you need information governance tools in place — across the entire organization — to create a common language in all areas of communication. You can help to accomplish this with:

  • Consistent policies and procedures in every department to improve internal communications and processes.

  • Reliable data with audit trails and minimal redundancies so that employees and clients see only one truth when it comes to accessing and sharing information.

  • Collaborative tools that are used in the same ways company-wide — setting a standard for how employees work together to collaborate effectively.

When everyone throughout your organization can communicate clearly, consistently, precisely and accurately, you'll be able to shift toward business goals more quickly and easily throughout your journey. We never know what new technologies or marketplace disruptions are coming down the road, but we need to be agile enough to jump ahead of them, or create a new and better path that will put us ahead of the competition.

Find a digital transformation path that works for your business

At Ricoh, we take a holistic approach to digital transformation with ideation and transformation workshops that help to deliver measurable improvements throughout your digital transformation journey.

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  1. 1. Kane, Gerald C. “Digital Maturity, Not Digital Transformation." MIT Sloan Management Review. April 4, 2017.
  2. 2. “State of the American Workplace." Gallup, Inc. 2017.

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