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The Place of Change Management in Digital Transformation

Digital transformation has never been more discussed today than when the term was first coined a couple of years ago. This is more apparent when many corporations become increasingly aware of the need to accept and adopt digitalization sooner. The term “digital transformation” suggests an extensive coverage, and to begin this transformation process can be a daunting experience. To narrow the process, the core attributes focus on 3 key aspects:

  • Customer-centricity;
  • Collaborative and iterative use of design-oriented methods; and
  • End-to-end integration of multiple services and channels enabled by technology.

Change Management, traditionally has always been linked to technology-driven change and transformation as part of the discipline and profession. However, with digital transformation now being embraced, the role of change management must also evolve to meet its new definition. This new definition is the inclusion of people impact, that is largely associated with the use of development and implementation methods like design thinking and customer user experience (CX/UX).

Essentially, change management is to help people transit into a different mindset and behavior as smoothly and quickly as possible to embrace the change as a “new norm”.

It might be worthwhile to note that in digital transformation projects, change management impacts assessment and strategy. This means that it takes on an increased importance in providing a holistic view of how various activities will integrate with the overall program and solution design to drive change. More often than not, digital transformation changes might enforce a broader and deeper impact. For instance, the robust emphasis and swift move into digitalization in recent times has significantly changed our way of life – the rise of online/ mobile banking, shopping and food delivery are some change impacts to consider.

Against the backdrop of these developments, a good impact assessment will be even more critical to formulate a change strategy, which will comprehensively and systematically address this shift and the stakeholders (people) affected. This change strategy is key in ensuring the ultimate end objectives will be achieved.

Change Drivers with a Different Focus

Besides the change strategy, the change drivers are also crucial to meet the objectives.

A good change driver should know a variety of change management tools, have access to them, and must know how to adjust the use of these tools accordingly to achieve its best.

Change drivers supporting digital transformation must themselves first shift their focus on some of the following change levers:

  • In every change management, Communication is imperative. In this digital age, it is not enough to just “cascade” a set of instructions or change ideas. It is about ongoing engagement with the stakeholders at every level. For engagement to be effective, change drivers must be empowered and enabled with the appropriate and available channels.
  • Stakeholder Management
    Digital transformation is typically cross-functional, cross-business and may sometimes also involve external parties like customers, regulators and/or service providers. It is therefore important that stakeholder management needs to be more comprehensive and focused on specifics of each group. It will be non-befitting to only adopt a simplistic, project-centric view of their “influence” and “support level”.
  • Identifying Change Champions and Leaders
    The change for digital transformation can be deep and broad in scope, it is therefore critical to identify and cultivate genuine change agents from various parts of the organization. Top down approach in driving these changes may not be the most effective and efficient. Ideally, it should include multiple leaders that are capable of speaking to their respective precincts so as to persuade, influence and align with this change.
  • Training is definitely necessary as we know that effective change requires different learning methods. This will help bridge the gaps of people adapting to new roles, mindsets, behaviors, and using new systems more confidently.

People – The Key to Transformation

Undoubtedly digital transformation has created new changes in multiple areas and levels. With this dynamic change, there is also a need to relook at change management from a new perspective. Through this process, what remains key is still about helping people transit into digital transformation successfully.

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