Your Tech Stack Was Good Enough for the Pandemic — but Is It Right for Long-Term Digital Transformation?

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While the world of work was certainly well on its way to becoming more digital and remote-friendly prior to the pandemic, the arrival of COVID-19 accelerated the digital transformation timelines of many organizations. Years-long plans turned into overnight changes, showing us just how much our organizations can truly achieve in such a short period of time.

To aid the sudden transition to virtual work environments, companies quickly turned to the tools they already had in place — such as email, Slack, and Zoom — to support their newly remote frameworks. Over time, however, companies have come to realize that a more permanent digital transformation will require more strategic planning.

Organizations must now answer some vital questions: How will we work as hybrid companies, with some employees in the office and others remote? How can we make digital transformation work for our field or factory workers who never had remote options? How do we create an effective, engaging employee experience in a digital world?

The key to answering these questions lies in transforming not only your systems and processes but also the communications you use to deliver that transformation. Communication is the bridge between your workforce and digital transformation; if employees don’t understand and engage with the change, you won’t see the alignment you need to make it stick.

Here are my top tips for a successful digital transformation — including the communication strategies that can support your organization along the way:

All Change Starts With Employees

A successful digital transformation requires more than simply adopting new tech, new systems, and new platforms. You must adopt digital tools that actually work for both your company and your workforce.

To ensure business success even as you undergo massive change, you must focus on your employees. Any transformation, as most companies now understand, is about people. You need their alignment and their engagement at every stage of a major organizational change. The way to cultivate that buy-in is through thoughtful internal communication.

Make sure you take an employee-centric approach that customizes the transformation experience for different employee groups. This will give you the best chance of driving a successful transformation.

What Worked in a Pandemic May Not Work in the Future

Even as the pandemic comes to a close, digital transformation will continue. Some companies, for example, are moving to permanently hybrid or remote work environments; others are interested in getting employees back to the office. No matter the path ahead for your organization, you must focus on some key considerations as you move out of “emergency mode” and into a mindset oriented toward long-term efficiency and productivity.

First, evaluate which digital processes will work well in a non-pandemic world. The same tools and processes that helped your organization thrive over the last year may not be suited for a world in which COVID is under control. Take a look at the technologies and systems you leveraged throughout the pandemic. If they aren’t a good long-term fit for your company, find new digital systems that better support the post-pandemic employee experience.

Processes weren’t the only things that changed during the pandemic. Many businesses have also adjusted their strategies and goals in the last 18 months. It’s crucial to evaluate whether the digital tools and platforms you currently use support those new goals. Moving forward, our organizations will need to do more than just get by.

Think Like a Marketer to Drive Employee Communication

With remote and hybrid work models gaining prominence, getting buy-in and alignment from diverse, distributed employees will be critical. Communication is vital to this effort, but it also poses a significant challenge as employees are overwhelmed with all the workplace noise. Even before the pandemic, US employees received a combined 576 billion work-related emails every year. That number has only increased in the shift to remote work. It’s now more difficult than ever for organizations to cut through the noise to reach and engage their employees, but it’s also more important than ever that they do just that.

Employers can drive stronger communication engagement around organizational transformation by taking a few pages from the marketer’s playbook, like audience segmentation and personalized messaging. You should also use data to measure the success of your communication efforts and identify ways to improve in the future.

With so many workers pushed into home offices over the last year, it’s only natural that digital tools have become key components of our workplace landscape. As the pandemic recedes, however, businesses must become more intentional about choosing the right digital tools to support long-term organizational success. Identifying your workplace’s next steps will help inform both the right tech stack and the right communications approach to carry your workforce through a digital transformation. By adding a thoughtful communication strategy to your long-term digital transformation plan, you can better engage your audience and inspire alignment.

Keith Kitani is CEO and cofounder of GuideSpark.

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By Keith Kitani