Three steps to create a digital culture in your organization

By José Pinto, - Future Workplace

Cultural change is the basis for all digital transformation (DT). If you don’t start with change at this level, you’ll never get it to stick. This is something I addressed in my previous blog post.

Now I want to talk about how to create cultural change. It’s a delicate art, because it requires you to understand the way your team really thinks and feels about digital change.

And this is an emotive subject, because it has impact on people’s working lives.

So here’s my advice for finding practical ways to generate a culture shift in your organization.

It all starts with your employees

The first thing to bear in mind when approaching this topic: keep employees at the heart of the digital transformation process. This is probably the most essential lesson for any business to learn.

And it’s one that we had to learn through experience. At Fujitsu, we have 170,000 employees from all backgrounds and cultures – including our motherhouse in Japan.

Sometimes the cultural differences throw up interesting problems around the way we talk to our employees. Asking outright may elicit a response from our employees in some countries, but it would not be so effective in other countries where people tend to be more reserved and have a different idea of what constitutes politeness. In this case, you have to consider who your workers are, and how this will impact the way they engage with you.

We’re a tech services company, and often it’s tempting to just talk to our people about technology: service and efficiency models. But this isn’t an effective way to help them learn about digital transformation.

We found that things really started changing when we freed people to look at the organisation in a different way, and when we allowed them to share their opinions.

Our customers have the same problems in their own organizations. So we encourage our customers to ask their employees – and ask themselves – what are their pain points, desires, and ambitions for the DT process? What type of transformation do they expect to see?

In our experience people tend to find themselves at many different parts of their journey. We can’t swamp them at the wrong point with too much technical detail.

We can bring whatever technology necessary to the table, but the most important thing we can offer our customers is the expertise of our employees when dealing with customer perceptions, values and vision of the future

They act as ‘Digital Advisors’, guiding our customers beyond the technology of digital transformation and into the trends, innovation and values that make it a success.

Transparency and trust

Keeping your people at the heart of the process isn’t easy. You need to understand how your workers feel about the digital changes that are coming into play.

This takes work, especially since a lot of employees have fears and desires they won’t want to expose. One of the big concerns for many employees is that they’ll lose their job or become less relevant with the introduction of technologies like artificial intelligence or robotics.

To instil confidence in your employees as you move through the digital transformation process, you need to keep them updated with real and transparent information. And ultimately, you have to rely on your workers to trust in your organization to do right by them.

Facing the future with confidence

There’s another question many businesses have to face as they look to digital transformation. What does the future hold?

It’s a question that matters an enormous amount to every employee with worries about their own position in the next ten to twenty years.

So while I could paint a nice picture and highlight the amazing technology that’s on its way – flying cars and avatars, for instance – I think it’s best to focus on the questions your employees probably want answering.

The new companies I envisage in the future will have an element of the traditional set-up, balanced with a major contribution to their own people. They will be more intelligent, meaning they will start to better understand real people.

And as the value of ‘human’ activity (meaning the kind of tasks that only people can do) rises, it’s likely that businesses will be more interested in creativity.

At the same time, people will start to lose interest in new technology. There will be a level of saturation, as tech itself becomes normalised. The smartphone is a good example of this.

Since we are almost at full market penetration, people are less interested, excited or worried about its potential. The same will eventually be true of workplace technology.

Take the human centric approach for success

Although the technology of digital transformation is new, the principles behind it are not.

It’s all about the people who make up your organization. They are just as important as they have ever been – if not more. So they should always be at the heart of your digital transformation process.

This chimes with Fujitsu’s approach to technology as a whole, where we strive to be human-centric.

By putting people first, organizations can’t fail to create a strong digital culture where technology is utilised for the benefit of everyone.

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