Two years post the Covid 19 pandemic, it is no surprise that almost all companies are now tech-enabled in one way or another. From the private sector to Government to SMEs, we are now heavily reliant on technology to drive business value and growth. It can be difficult to keep up with new and emerging technologies churned out daily.
Technological transformation before March 2020 was gradual, planned, and at times shelved to give way to other more urgent transformations for businesses. The onset of COVID challenged organisational status quo with several confronted with the need to quickly adapt and pivot by embracing new technologies and business operating models. In-person meetings were replaced by video conferencing platforms changing how teams interact and engage, global value chains were disrupted and several business processes were digitised to meet the shifting needs and demands of their consumers.
We witnessed the difficulties organisations encountered implementing successful technology changes during the pandemic. The urgency created by the pandemic forced several organisations to modernise and prioritise technology to survive.
At the heart of creating technological change is a multipronged process that has several interdependent processes. According to recent research by McKinsey and Company, technology transformations are inherently difficult to execute and 70% of technology/digital transformations fail. A recent survey by BCG Consultants revealed that 75% of digital transformation efforts do not deliver the anticipated business results. The reasons cited are that technology change initiatives are often complex, have several interdependencies, are sometimes poorly defined and managed, require significant shifts in how people perform their roles and are often poorly communicated.
What Drives Success During Technology Changes is People
If you ask any technology changes implementor on what drives the success or failure of the initiatives, you will receive a myriad of answers. But, no matter how we look at it, people play a significant role in delivering successful outcomes.
Neuroscience has helped us understand that resistance is a natural response to change. Being the implementors or the end-users, people are more inclined to resist than embrace change, yet the extent to which they adapt, engage and buy-in, impact the realisation of business benefits and value. How we engage, support, and equip people becomes a critical focus of any technology change project.
Research by Prosci®, the world global leader in change, reveals that 72% of organisations are nearing, or past the point of change saturation. Change practitioners must therefore constantly consider the change fatigue faced by those impacted by technology changes and devise strategies and actions that address this without compromising the delivery of results and business outcomes.
The complexities of technology change initiatives mean that results aligned with the business objectives and benefits and a project that is on time and on budget are goals of any implementor of technology change. For businesses implementing large strategic IT projects such as a core banking system implementation, failure to meet these key goals can undermine the delivery of the business’s strategic intent and goals. According to Prosci® research, having a proper change management methodology increases project success by up 93%.
McKinsey and Company in a recent paper shared that the key success factors to technology/digital change initiatives hinge on three trajectories that are intertwined. The first trajectory is rethinking the technology and the role it plays for the organisation, integration with key business processes, ensuring an optimal user experience, and scalability to meet business and customer demands.
The second trajectory for success is how the technology is delivered, ensuring there are available technical teams, the technology itself is of superior quality, has passed the required industry tests, and has flexible developer partnerships that enable it to be capability-based and result-oriented.
The final trajectory is on the sustenance of the technology, ensuring it is flexible enough to accommodate future updates and upgrades and remains secure from cyber-attacks.
At the heart of implementing these initiatives lies change strategies that create a sense of urgency and rallies support for the transformation in the organisation. As most technology changes are about efficiency and competitive advantage, employees need to understand the business value of the transformation to buy in to it otherwise they will revert to the status quo.
Develop a Change Management Capability
Developing a change management capability within the organisation can positively contribute to success in the long term. In the current fast-changing environment that is necessitating change at a higher than usual rate, embedding change management as a core competency increases the organisation’s change capacity and responsiveness.
Prosci® reports that having capacity internally, whether change practitioner, consultant, or a holistic team can improve the project success rate and return on investment. For success and benefits to be realised, the organisation needs a focus on the technical aspect of the change, ensuring that the solution that is being designed and delivered meets the business opportunity or solves the business problem. An equal focus must be placed on ensuring people impacted by the solution are equipped, prepared, and enabled to adopt and use the change.
Also Read: How To Deal With Change In An Organisation
The good news is that as the discipline of change grows, there is now greater understanding and awareness of how to structure change to support individuals through a transition that delivers business results. Learnings over the years are making it more comprehensible to implement technology projects fluidly.
Finally, having water-tight change management processes that include communication, training, leadership alignment, and sustaining the change are core components of any successful project. These are critical to engaging teams at all levels and enabling the adoption of new technologies.
These processes depend on an organisational culture that supports openness, agility, and responsiveness as organisations need maturity and a structure that nurtures change without which, many initiatives will either remain incomplete or have poor adoption.
Our next instalment will explore some best practices for successful technological/digital change implementation.