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People-centred, data-driven change in a digital world

Transformation has become a permanent state for businesses in the digital era, yet the sheer volume of emerging technologies and new ways of working have created confusion and disillusion in many large organisations. Baking agility into core operations enables the innovation required to remain relevant amid digital disruption, but a recent State of Agile Report found the biggest challenge to adopting and scaling agile programmes relates to organisational culture and persistent resistance to change.

Organisations were under pressure to transform and make use of digital long before the coronavirus outbreak, but the pandemic has accelerated demand for such services further, driven by customer expectations which continue to evolve at pace. Those who hadn’t embraced remote working in the past have realised their employees can work productively from home, interact well with their colleagues and drive customer value.

Whereas transformation previously focused on cost reduction through reducing technical debt and modernising IT infrastructure, increasingly it’s more about leveraging insights from data, which is achieved by making sure employees have access to it on demand and at the right time, thus improving the customer experience. Automation dataset

Business and IT have traditionally operated in a “build it and they will come” mode, but a historical lack of adoption and poor employee and customer experience compounded a lack of trust between them. Such a mindset has also left people behind, as trust issues coupled with constant requests to change how we work have fuelled change fatigue.

“It doesn’t matter how well you build something, or how well you deploy technology, it is still people using it and interacting with each other, albeit through ever-increasing digital channels, be that intradepartmental or with customers,” says Konstantinos

Ressopoulos, director of transformation at Automation Logic, a professional services consultancy helping organisations transform with cloud, automation and DevOps solutions.

“When people don’t buy into the change or see reason to adapt their behaviours, it doesn’t matter how good technology is or how well you automate processes. People should be at the heart of transformation, not just because they ultimately use and benefit from the technology, but also because of the peace of mind that needs to be offered to customers and employees so they can enjoy more valuable interactions. We must, therefore, design and implement a people-centric transformation experience.”

To deliver meaningful outcomes through digital transformation, organisations need to invest in people and skills. Too many companies race to adopt new technologies without designing and investing in their teams to adapt to new ways of working. When adopting any new technologies, organisations should take a human-centred, data-driven approach.

Automation Logic advocates a DevOps operating model that places the customer at its core and encompasses culture, technology, processes, organisational change management and product-centric structure. Its own people-oriented culture delivers user-centred digital services for its clients. Focusing on the people and culture elements of change, underpinned by a technical DNA to support transformation, enables Automation Logic’s customers and partners to build value-realising digital services.

To deliver meaningful outcomes through digital transformation, organisations need to invest in people and skills

The AL DevOps Academy helps to bridge the digital skills gap by recruiting STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) graduates and running specialist training programmes, not just in technology but in new ways of working, enabling Automation Logic’s clients to access people with the right attributes to drive their transformation. The company helps clients design and implement new digital services, but also build and embed sustainable digital capability.

Customer centricity requires every part of the business working in harmony to design and deliver a great customer experience. This means there can no longer be a divide between lines of business and tech. The IT department must lead the effort and be a true partner to the other departments, such as sales, marketing and operations, delivering measurable, meaningful business outcomes together. The IT function is a value-adding enabler, reducing time to market by deploying more features faster, more frequently and with fewer errors.

“If you don’t put people at the heart of digital services, it will become really difficult to scale and roll out to everyone,” says Ressopoulos. “And if the digital services aren’t fit for purpose then they won’t get the adoption needed to deliver the expected outcomes. Placing the end-user at the centre of everything is essential. Laggards to this view are standing in the way of adding value to their business.”

There are a huge number of companies that still treat IT work as a cost centre, focusing all effort on driving efficiencies and missing out on the opportunity to unlock value through innovation, further burdening their employees with change fatigue of the worst kind. This needs to change. Companies that haven’t created a strong handshake between lines of business and IT are suffering. The true believers in the relationship between business and IT, meanwhile, are delivering value fast, and that relationship and the resulting agility are fuelling their competitive advantage.

When companies put customer needs at the core of product and service design, value becomes the focal point. The medium through which they communicate to deliver it, digital or face to face, becomes irrelevant, as the shared focus is value realisation.

Businesses that adopt new, product-oriented ways of operating are better positioned to sustain change. They should organise teams around their product or service, avoid siloed projects and develop iteratively, not monolithically.

With that shift, it is important to realise that process automation is crucial to digital transformation, not just driving cost efficiencies but also enabling more intelligent decision-making.  However, automating an already flawed process will not deliver value.

Organisations need to identify how to tackle and reduce waste, prioritise where to automate and visualise workflow to collaborate better across different functions and eliminate departmental silos that restrain communication and therefore hinder innovation.  A culture of measuring is therefore important. Most organisations measure outputs and report on vanity metrics, but only by measuring the right KPIs and connecting them to outcomes can they support continuous improvement through prioritising value-generating work that delivers business impact.

“At Automation Logic, we realised it doesn’t matter how good we make technology work for our customers, in the end it’s all about empowering them, sharing knowledge and driving sustainable change so they don’t need us anymore,” says Ressopoulos. “By blending the tech focus with people centricity, our DevOps operating model, we help our customers change their culture and ultimately translate that into new ways of working. Putting customer centricity at the core ensures a good experience for everyone.”

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