Making digital transformation have a meaningful impact on people’s lives

By Helen Lamb, - Employee experience

While the argument for digital transformation (DX) may have been won this year, what it really means is still being debated.

DX is traditionally known as the digitization of business. However, when going through transformation businesses often focus on implementing new technologies and processes for greater optimization and forget to consider the people at the heart of it.

That’s why I like to use the term ‘meaningful digital transformation’ – it keeps the focus of DX on people. Meaningful digital transformation involves streamlining the way the world around us operates so individuals can derive the most value from it.

So, when digitally transforming, the questions leaders should be asking are:

  • How best can employees use all the free time automation has afforded us?
  • How will AI and analytics help improve our employee engagement and give better experiences?

It all comes down to understanding the difference DX is going to make on an individual level and for the greater good. And this chimes with our overall objective here at Fujitsu: to support the positive transformation of the world through corporate sustainability.

So in this piece, I’ll discuss what makes digital transformation meaningful, how you can ensure it in your organization, and the benefits this mindset brings, both in the short and long term.

Interested in how Fujitsu can help you deliver meaningful transformation? Visit our Work Life Shift page here.

When life gives you lemons

A year ago, travelling was the norm for me, meeting global colleagues regularly, whether that was our UK HQ or visiting offices in other countries, with the odd catch-up day working at home.

During the last 12 months, my suitcase has gone into hibernation and I have visited a local office just 3 times.  Quite a change and I am not alone!

Within Fujitsu we enabled home working for 95% of employees in a 10 day period and are now adapting to new ways of working, for example rethinking and streamlining our workforce scheduling to adjust to new daily patterns, such as parents dealing with altered drop off routines.

And like everyone, while being unable to see friends or family has been incredibly tough from a personal perspective, technology has allowed us to continue from a work point of view.

Interestingly, our employee engagement in our Fujitsu global business has increased considerably during this period. And the mindset has spread to our customers, who’ve said our humane approach has made it easier for them to be humane in their organization.

Increased humanity

When I think about ‘DX’, it really is increased humanity that is the standout aspect.

I recently wondered ‘How many times I have looked into people’s eyes in the last year?’ And I mean really looked to understand how they are and what is happening.

Twelve months ago, I would have answered ‘daily’ without really thinking through the question.  A year on living through a pandemic, I would give a different answer: ‘not just daily but every hour and most often every minute in every hour’.

The switch to video as opposed to using just audio has concentrated the focus on faces and eyes – this has really helped to understand what is happening at a more personal level and on a more frequent basis. We’re able to share and laugh together during the good days and provide moral support in the challenging ones.

We need to think about and understand ‘DX employee experience’, both in terms of how a company streamlines operations for improved effectiveness but also as a way to maximize the positive experience through personal connection.

This personal connection and understanding is pivotal in ensuring company culture transcends from the office into home working, and actually strengthens the culture. By focusing DX on enabling a wide range of experiences, people instinctively start to feel more comfortable revealing their true selves at work.

When employees share their ideal work styles and organizations embrace the Work Life Shift, this can enable your people to be their most productive selves – with the employees themselves being the orchestrators of change.

On the macro-scale, this also enables DX to break down many barriers to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, because it makes organizations more accessible to people from varying backgrounds and life situations.  It goes beyond the meaningful impact to employee experience, but also creates the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on society with authenticity articulated through employees themselves into their local communities.

Societal impact

Having the ability to connect values and people’s personal purposes for societal good has been taken a step further in Fujitsu.

We have recently established virtual communities that connect around the UN SDGs. The SDGs are 17 global goals designed to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice, and many more. The SDGs target 2030 and provide a framework for civil society, governments, and companies to work collaboratively and beat these difficult challenges.

Employees choose if they wish to be part of this and select which community resonates with them. As part of this community, they have the ability to connect, share, discuss and align activities with like-minded colleagues. For example, I believe in ‘Quality Education’ for all, ‘Reduced Inequalities’ (the eradication of inequalities) and the importance of Good health and Wellbeing; three global communities that I am now part of.

This formation enables a sense of being able to go beyond the day-to-day role activities, to be personally involved in creating a greater difference. DX technology has enabled this global community connection to take place within a matter of days and weeks.

As well as existing employees, this has been invaluable to new joiners, who during the last 12 months, might have never entered an office or met their colleagues (a position that would probably have been pretty much unthinkable before).  By joining these groups, employees can build relationships, understand how to be effective in their role, experience company values and norms, and connect and contribute both in their roles but also societal purpose – making any concerns about the ‘loss of corporate culture’ through home working obsolete.

Digital rapid evolvement

Meaningful digital transformation, especially during a pandemic, is both a top-down and bottom-up endeavour.

A top-down approach is required to make big macro decisions at speed. Decisions like who your key partners are, what your updated portfolio is, along with your operating principles and ideal working environment, must be made at the highest levels.

However, DX also needs to be bottom-up, and this mainly involves listening to the right people, be it to your employees, partners, suppliers, analyst or just society. It should be the people on the ground with first-hand knowledge of individual challenges and have ideas that should inform and shape the decisions at the top.

With these two approaches, it becomes possible to shift your digital transformation into digital rapid evolvement – considering what you can change on a day-to-day basis that makes a positive difference.

I believe leaders and organizations will be judged in the future on how they chose to behave during 2020 & 2021.

It will be those that operated with high ethics and valued the people connection that will weather these uncertain times by being the ones people want to do business with.

And that’s a transformation that’s truly meaningful.

The way we work has changed overnight but something remained the same: the importance of your people. Find out how Fujitsu Work Life Shift can help here.

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