Digital Evolution Series – Part Four
How to make sure your people own digital evolution
We’ve covered a lot of ground so far in this LinkedIn series focused on digital evolution. As a reminder digital evolution is the continuous adoption and refinement of new/emerging technologies, as opposed to digital transformation, which is a disruptive shift achieved via the digitisation of non-digital products.
Now it’s time for us to explore possibly the most important aspect of all – people. Why they’re essential to achieving digital evolution and how to take them with you on the journey. How do you make sure everyone in your company takes a vested interest in continual, incremental improvements, rather than just your tech department?
For any rolling business strategy to be successful, you must have the right people, engaged at the right time in the right way. That’s because people are your primary resource: commitment is contagious, and success breeds success.
For digital evolution to be successful, it’s firstly essential to map and group your stakeholders, then make sure you establish effective communication channels to ensure there is a constant flow of information in both directions.
Key stakeholders for digital evolution
Of course, some of these stakeholders are more obvious: Product Managers, Data and Analytics Analysts, DevOps, Data Scientists, UI/UX and Service Design and your Data Privacy Officer/CIO.
However, the entire company – not just your tech department – must be invested in digital evolution, even if they aren’t executing the delivery day-to-day. It is easy for digital teams to become siloed, rolling out updates in a bubble, meaning that digital evolution is not embraced or owned by the wider organisation. The consequence is that this is not really digital evolution at all. Not only do you miss opportunities for innovation and progress, but it is more likely employees will get frustrated and push back when digital changes are put in place that they aren’t invested in.
There are some other key groups that need to have this investment in your digital journey. Firstly, your employees in ALL departments – they are the biggest advocates for your product or service and most likely to know about any pain-points. They may also have brilliant ideas for how to resolve them. This could include Finance and Procurement, who may have insights in terms of costs of existing processes and potential capability gaps. It may also include sales and customer support teams (with a unique perspective on customer industry challenges) or marketing teams who have awareness of competitor positioning. Going back to your people regularly on a one-to-one basis or through focus groups will help you gather feedback on what is working or not working. It will also help them to understand 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.
Customers are also a key group. They will give you brilliant insights about what they love (and don’t love) about your digital offerings, how they currently use them versus what they wish they could use them for! Customer feedback tools that can be used to capture real-world end-user feedback from customers using your products and services include SurveyMonkey, UserVoice, Feedbackify and Marker.
Finally reach out to any partners, external consultants and industry experts – often, the view from the outside is quite different, and very revealing, so you could make way for new ideas which could revolutionise the way you think about your digital offerings.
Further actions to engage your people in digital evolution:
- Use Collaborative Tools and Platforms such as MS Teams, Slack, Jira, Asana, Miro and Trello.
- Create a culture of best-practice by actively sharing what has and hasn’t worked with staff and customers.
- Create cross-functional project teams and hold joint planning and decision-making sessions (across all stakeholder departments). It can be eye-opening to get the views of someone in a completely different job function. Making sure decisions are made across functions also means that if plans change along the way stakeholders are more likely to embrace these shifts.
- Work across teams and departments to identify challenges, pain points and opportunities. Use these to identify common themes and challenges which can help build consensus on priorities. Invite teams to share their experience of existing systems to build a ‘capabilities wish list’ to decide what systems to retire and retain, which to improve, and which to replace.
- Use a common, shared scoring criteria – which means something to the organisation – when assessing priorities in terms of features, capabilities and decisions. For example, a point score across a range of criteria such as creating this capability will reduce cost, increase customer engagement, reduce time to market, broaden our product/service offering and achieve parity with our competitors. Pandora.com’s concept of ‘engineering dollars’ is an example of a good approach to help non-technical stakeholders weigh the benefits of features versus the development effort required to build them. Combining this with a shared scoring criteria that covers customer/business/organisational impact helps give everyone confidence that you are prioritising incremental changes that will deliver the most benefit.
Once you engaged your people, for digital evolution to be successful, it’s essential to nurture a culture of continuous improvement and innovation – and not just within your digital teams. Adopting this mindset will ensure your business is on a more successful trajectory.
Moving to a ‘little and often’ agile approach to digital also requires a skills shift. There are currently skills gaps within organisations, including understanding of the wider technology landscape, analytics, GDPR, cyber security and how to use customer/end-user advocacy to drive positive referrals of your products and services.
In my next article, I’ll explore these skills gaps, as well as how to nurture a culture of continuous improvement, to help you ensure digital evolution success…
If you are looking to stay ahead of your competitors and want to make the most out of your digital estate then speak to us today!