By Mpumi Nhlapo, Sales & Service Management Head: Demand Management at T-Systems SA
- Firms are scrambling to digitise and transform as quickly as possible
- These ambitions fail unless supported by strategic Change Management
- We should broaden our Change Management focus from internal only, to include user-adoption and engagement
A mere decade ago, the world’s biggest companies were the likes of General Electric, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and CitiGroup. Today, that list is dominated by technology players such as Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and China Mobile.
Wowed by the astonishing growth of technology-led companies over recent years, firms in every industry are rushing to digitise and transform. They are scrambling to build new apps, move systems to the Cloud, and automate parts of their operations. Companies are rolling out the latest and greatest technology offerings, as the ICT landscape comes alive with rapid, relentless innovation.
In this surge to digitise, however, we often see many organisations losing their way. New technology projects create additional layers of complexity, billowing costs, new security risks and confusion among teams. The impact of the new technology is quelled and we’re left asking what went wrong?
Through T-Systems’ and Intervate’s experience in handling some of the biggest and most ambitious technology programmes for large clients, we believe the problem can frequently be distilled down into one essential root cause: change management simply hasn’t kept pace with the new digital era.
Walking in lock-step with users
While traditional change management may have been focused on the internal awareness, enablement and upskilling of staff – in the digital era we need to broaden our focus to cater not only for internal staff, but also for the external customer.
Furthermore, this process doesn’t only kick-in at the end of your software development cycle, when you are ready to launch a product. In the digital world, the process of change management occurs at the very beginning of the ideation and creation phases.
Design Thinking processes help us to hone in on what the customer really needs and what they feel about a particular feature, product or service. In times of escalating complexity, Design Thinking cuts through the clutter, getting to the heart of what’s important to our external users. This process of engaging, co-creating and assisting them to get acquainted with a new product then continues all the way to launch and beyond.
In today’s world that is saturated by new digital services at every turn, simply throwing a new app into the store won’t work. Instead, we need to walk in lock-step with our users, helping them to see the value of a service, designing change management and marketing strategies to stimulate adoption.
In some cases, the need to nurture external adoption is even more obvious. Imagine the large, lumbering corporate that has taken some time to begin its digital transformation journey: it would come as quite a shock to users if they were suddenly presented with a range of digital services boasting leading-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud, virtual reality, geolocation or similar technologies.
Making things ‘Sticki’
Our approach – which we’ve packaged as our ‘Sticki’ consulting and user adoption offering – harnesses Intervate’s decade-long streak of award-winning IT deployments for local firms, as well as the depth of its parent company, T-Systems’, global resources and capabilities.
Our focus is to help organisations, their staff and their customers, see the true value of a given technology or digital service – to situate it in the context of each of our individual lives, and articulate the value that it adds.
While in bygone industrial eras we may have all been forced to accept ‘one size fits all’ products (as organisations focused on efficiency, scale, distribution and cost-effectiveness) – this is no longer necessarily the case.
Today, the game has fundamentally changed. As customers we expect highly personalised, tailored solutions that are crafted for our individual needs. We expect our voices to be heard as we type out our product reviews on eCommerce sites, and contribute to company forums and beta trials.
Against this backdrop, the approach to change management needs to become far more dynamic, reaching out to staff and customers alike and evoking our emotions and our imaginations. It’s only by getting this right that one can hope for successful digitisation initiatives and lasting results.
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