Digital Evolution Series – Part Five

Published: 18/07/2023
Author: Vidatec

How to work with your people for digital evolution

In my last post, I discussed how your people are an essential element in achieving digital evolution – the incremental investment in, and improvement of, your digital estate over a sustained period. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take your people on the journey with you and to ensure that ALL employees take a vested interest in ongoing, incremental digital improvement.

Resistance to digital evolution could occur for any number of reasons – but perhaps principally because change can be scary for most people. What if I don’t understand it, or it happens too quickly? Will I be able to work and thrive in the new way? There could also be ‘change fatigue’ – there’s already been tremendous change over the past few years and now employees are being asked to contend with another platform/tool/project/process.

The ‘change mindset’ of your people

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You might need to consider the ‘change mindset’ of your people. Firstly, a lack of leadership alignment and support could be preventing evolutionary culture – especially in large corporates where red tape and approvals can stifle creativity and innovation.

One the other hand, could there be a negative perception or belief about the complexity or scale of the change? An example here could be that you have numerous disparate tech platforms, some with potentially overlapping capabilities that are not necessarily integrated.

To help your people be part of the solution, ‘hackathon’ days can be particularly effective. This brings people from all different departments, including senior leaders, together into teams, usually with a developer in each team, to pick a problem and work out how to solve it with technology. Properly supported with the right tools, this leads to some creative thinking, with the best ideas often being implemented.

To manage the process, it often helps to frame these sessions for the hackathon with a problem statement – so this could be a solution to a key customer challenge or organisational challenge. This is also likely something to appeal to senior leaders in the organisation who face a whole raft of strategic challenges.

Enabling ‘citizen developers

It’s equally likely that your people are working in a siloed way, or that they simply believe that tech should be left to the tech experts. Perhaps they are suspicious of new technologies because they don’t understand it or worry about the negative impact it could have on them or their role in the business. They might have security and privacy concerns.

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As a solution, low-code/no-code platforms such as Microsoft Power Platform and Zapier can help non-developers to build their own tools and workflows to integrate and share data between different apps and platforms.  Digital leaders can support and nurture this by setting up best practice examples and case studies of what can be done, and then working with and supporting ‘citizen developers’ as stakeholders to build their own solutions.

Properly supported with expertise and governance, this can create a culture of innovation and continuous improvement as different teams add to the ‘case studies’ of what can be done with the tools and share their ideas.

Opportunities to up-skill

At Vidatec, we believe that there is an opportunity for more awareness, education, and training to overcome these barriers and help people embrace the new digital evolution reality. Of course, more in-depth continuous development is essential in tech teams, but it’s also incredibly useful to broaden perspectives and develop the digital skillsets of everyone in your organisation, in some of the following areas:

  • Awareness of GDPR, data protection and cybersecurity risks, and ensuring these are baked-into all digital product/service design. This is wrapped up in wider awareness of the latest technology trends/tools/platforms – and their benefits. The more people who understand the tech, and how to use it and benefit from it, the less uncertainty or fear there is likely to be.
  • Understanding of agile product development and knowing how to engage with your end-user/audience to solicit feedback and shape the future direction of the product.
  • Don’t allow ‘perfect’ to become the enemy of ‘good’. Increased knowledge in this area can help teams understand why it’s essential to move from one-off, big-bang releases to ‘little and often’ MVP (minimum viable product) and develop an agile mindset for digital products/platforms.
  • How to use customer/end-user advocacy to drive positive referrals for your digital products and services (think challenger banks and super-apps disrupting the big banks). This is wider than a tech challenge – it’s sales, marketing, and advocacy that has the potential to impact the whole organisation.
  • Understanding of analytics – how to use customer engagement and user traffic information to ‘design by data’ when creating digital products/services. There’s often an assumption that IT/Digital and Product Owners should own analytics, whereas marketing, sales and customer support/success should also be key stakeholders, so that everyone understands how customers are using the platform.
  • Understanding the value of mapping customer/end-user personas to user journeys on your website, app or service and defining ‘mission accomplished’ goals before the project has begun to objectively measure success using KPIs.
  • Understanding that technical debt must be paid-down. This means making time for code to be refactored on applications to ensure it is maintainable, ensuring developers have time to document releases, making time for security patching, auditing, checking server logs and monitoring tools and dashboard to ensure application health and performance. If these things aren’t done (or done properly) they introduce an element of risk and lengthen time to market on future developments.
  • Understanding that digital isn’t a ‘one and done’ and that the ongoing operational support and maintenance of a product is just as important as the feature set. In digital, we have a saying “set and manage maintenance schedules for your systems (applications and servers) or your systems will set them for you” – by breaking down and making you reactive! Planned maintenance may be irksome, but it’s preferable to an unplanned digital emergency.

As I’ve already said, your people can, and should, be an enabler of digital evolution. With increased awareness, skills development and training, your people can overcome any blockers, embracing and enabling a new digital evolution reality.

If you are looking to move away from digital transformation and embrace digital evolution come and speak to us today.