Q&A: 3 digital transformation questions and answers about boosting team productivity

As customer demand drives digital transformation, remember that your employees are also your customers. Consider this expert advice to keep them engaged and productive
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Even after two years of rapid technology adoption, it’s rare to find a company that has a clear and accurate understanding of how each individual employee uses technology at work – and what they need from those tools. 

In this interview, Stanley Huang, Moxo's Chief Technology Officer, shares what organizations need to focus on in the years to come. He offers tips for CIOs and CTOs to help unburden employees and increase productivity through technology in the workplace.

1. Digital transformation can lead to fragmentation. Why is this a problem for employees?

In most industries, customer preferences have become digital-first – especially in the last two years.

To meet this demand, IT teams and leaders have driven digital transition initiatives with urgency, automating processes and moving services to the cloud. Their efforts have often resulted in an excess of digital tools, leaving both teams and business processes fragmented, or operating from disparate channels that lack cohesion.

Now, as companies continue to adjust their business models to accommodate digital-first customers, they must fine-tune their digital transformation strategies to better meet the needs of their workforce and alleviate common pain points throughout day-to-day operations.

Fragmented processes impact both business productivity and company culture by straining communication and creating bottlenecks at key points in business workflows. To ensure maximum productivity, digital transformation must be consistent, especially for remote teams.

[ Also read Digital transformation: 5 reality checks before you take the plunge. ]

The internal effectiveness of employees relies heavily on the technologies deployed. To streamline workflow, bring structure to processes that typically require multiple hand-offs at different junctions in a project lifecycle.

On the culture side, fragmented processes weaken connectivity and drive a wedge between C-suite executives and junior-level employees. To avoid this, adopt technology that closes this gap and unites the workforce in one digital channel.

A recent Gartner survey on the future of work found that executives are better equipped to work remotely than employees. 

Convey to your employees who you are as an organization and the value you bring, just as you do to your customers.

If your company’s decision-makers and its employees have fundamentally different remote work experiences, the employee experience is likely to be strained as this new model becomes more permanent.

The main takeaway: Convey to your employees who you are as an organization and the value you bring, just as you do to your customers. Remember, your employee is your customer.

2. How can IT leaders implement digital transformation in a way that does not burden employees and hamper productivity?

The best way to approach digital transformation is to think from the outside in but operate from the inside out.

Begin by simply understanding your customers’ needs. Then execute from a position that aligns with your employees’ needs and helps them create value from an internal perspective. To focus solely on the customer is to put the cart before the horse. Remember, your employee is your customer, and digital transformation efforts, when executed properly, always lead to a positive customer experience.

Your employee is your customer, and digital transformation efforts, when executed properly, always lead to a positive customer experience.

To unburden your employees, do away with outdated legacy systems that create bottlenecks and force employees to operate from disjointed channels. Instead, opt for technology that provides a centralized experience and reduces the number of touchpoints for employees to complete tasks and access information. This will instantly speed up the flow of communication throughout the organization and allow teams to operate more efficiently.

As the needs of the internal team change, dynamically adjust your plan to create a future-proof strategy that continually accommodates your employees’ needs and optimizes business processes.

3. Digital transformation is usually geared toward the customer and improving their overall experience. Why is it important to also focus on the employee experience?

Think from the outside-in perspective: We all check our bank accounts, stream movies, book vacations, and more with the click of a button. These services are difficult to deliver but simple to receive. In our personal lives, we have become accustomed to just-in-time, seamless interactions.

But when we step into the workplace, we often experience something different. Whether these challenges include difficulty connecting with upper management, getting clear, prompt answers to important questions, or jumping through multiple hoops to complete a simple task, the employee experience hasn’t lived up to the intuitive and seamless interactions we all enjoy as customers.

Digital transformation comes into the equation because the tools and various technologies organizations use help shape employee perceptions. In the digital-first world, technology is the enabler of all business transactions, and it should serve all stakeholders, internal and external.

As the war on talent wages on, an enhanced focus on employee experience will be paramount to remaining competitive and retaining top talent. Start by approaching your employees from their point of view, and make time –through town halls, surveys, one-on-one meetings, or other venues – to understand their wants, needs, fears, and anxieties.

[ Read also: Using automation to improve employee experience ]

In addition, make training and skills development a part of the overall culture throughout your digital transformation strategy. Employees want to feel that organizations are investing in them and to see empathy from leaders – through words and actions.

In 2022 and beyond, the employee experience will be increasingly critical to conducting business in a digital-first world and in an economy that has become deeply rooted in experience.

[ Leading CIOs are reimagining the nature of work while strengthening organizational resilience. Learn 4 key digital transformation leadership priorities in a new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. ]

Stanley Huang is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Moxo, and a veteran and pioneer of the collaboration industry. A seasoned architect of full tech stack coverage for cloud service and software development, Huang is a named inventor on more than 10 issued and pending patents.