Skip to content Skip to footer

Digital transformation needs a human touch

Image: Adobe Stock / TopMicrobialStock

Nav Uppal, Chief Digital Officer at Pulsant, explains the importance of taking a people-centric approach to digital transformation.

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, organisations are under constant pressure to evolve and adapt. Digital transformation has become a near-constant, with companies of all sizes investing significant resources into modernising their operations, processes, and technologies.

Despite the buzz that new and novel technologies bring, it’s crucial not to lose sight of the people that transformation will impact – even in what could be perceived as a pure infrastructure industry, such as data centres. Contrary to popular belief, successful transformation isn’t just about implementing the latest technologies, or streamlining processes. Success comes by understanding and prioritising the needs of the people involved. You should not underestimate the importance of a human-centric approach to digital transformation, internally and externally.

Putting people first

The key focus in any transformation journey is to establish a comprehensive understanding of existing processes and workflows – which will clarify the pain points, strengths, weaknesses, and bottlenecks across the business. This process ensures you establish a holistic view of operations to better understand the critical components and systems that can’t be disrupted, which in terms helps to more effectively plan the transition to new systems and technologies.

It’s impossible to manage this without significant employee engagement. Your people are on the front line, living the day-to-day operations that you’re attempting to improve. They are ultimately the best-placed people to inform your digital transformation strategy, and their input can foster a sense of ownership and buy-in to the business – not only improving engagement, but aligning their goals with the broader objectives of the organisation. 

There is of course a balance to be maintained to obtain fresh perspectives and ensure we challenge the ‘we have always done it this way’ thinking. Enabling success involves challenging the status-quo, pushing people in a supportive way to think differently to existing problems. This can be done via setting up cross-functional groups, obtaining views from across different industries and engaging within the wider industry itself. 

Simply put, an understanding of what people need from technology should be a priority, and we need to support and skill our people to undertake these tasks. User-centric design principles and a customer-centric approach are foundational to success.

A human-centric approach will involve user testing and gathering feedback to refine chosen solutions, ensuring they’re user-friendly and fit for purpose. Similarly, key performance indicators (KPIs) should be focused not only on technical benchmarks but also on measures of employee satisfaction and wellbeing, and customer experience.

Opening up communication 

Diversity within teams also plays a crucial role in driving successful digital transformation. Including a variety of perspectives and experiences from different industries and ways of life in the process brings valuable insights to the table, enabling organisations to be innovative in the solutions to cater to a broader range of users. Communication is obviously key to leveraging this diversity, fostering an environment where diverse opinions are welcomed, and feedback is actively encouraged. 

Cross departmental communication will also ensure gaps in processes are covered and give confidence of working solutions. We have all seen and experienced situations where one department implements successful change for themselves, but without considering the impacts up or downstream – which unfortunately takes the whole business backwards

Leadership commitment is another critical factor. Open communication channels, a culture that values honest communication, and a deep understanding of both team and customer needs are all integral to successful digital transformation. As such, leaders must clearly communicate the rationale behind decisions, ensuring that their people understand them and feel empowered to raise any concerns.

At its core, digital transformation is about more than just implementing new technologies or automating existing processes. It’s about bringing together the perspectives needed to reshape the way organisations operate, interact with customers, and deliver value – all in a stable controlled manner.

Establishing principles for a human-centric digital shift

It’s clear at this point that digital transformation requires a lot from an organisation’s leaders. They must be able to simultaneously drive progress while also actively listening to internal and external needs, recognising their feedback and tackling any worries.

To remain focused, the following principles will help leaders stay the course of a human-centric digital transformation:

  • Target pain points: solutions should address the pain points raised at the outset, foster shared goals and engagement across departments. Solutions should be challenged to be optimal and take learnings from a variety of sources so not only are they fit for now, but also for the future. 
  • Continuous feedback: implementing feedback loops throughout the transformation process through prototype testing, surveys and wider trials will allow for constant evolution of ideas in an agile manner. The world constantly evolves and so must our thinking and approach. 
  • Employee support and training: providing support and training before, during and after the transformation facilitates quicker adaptation to new thinking, processes and tools, reducing resistance and enhancing capabilities for long-term use.
  • People-based metrics: success measurement should include people-based metrics, aligning with the growing focus on wellbeing and a sense of belonging in a hybrid working environment. How any change is implemented is just as important as to what the change was. 
  • Cultural change: throughout the transformation, a cultural shift occurs naturally, with users more open to promoting ideas, recommending enhancements, and solving problems down the line – take note and iterate with this change.

Ultimately, following these principles can drive a more human-centric approach to digital transformation leading to real value and efficiency across the business, while simultaneously helping to foster an environment where people feel their voice is valued. 

Any transformation involves users and businesses transcending through the change curve, and there is no quicker way to do this than by placing people at the centre of the transformation process, through this we ensure that technology is a catalyst for positive change, for all.

Picture of Nav Uppal
Nav Uppal
Chief Digital Officer at Pulsant

You may also like

Stay In The Know

Get the Data Centre Review Newsletter direct to your inbox.