Technology is altering almost everything we do today.  With the rise of AI and cloud computing many organisations are going through a transformation journey to digitalise their business. A recent survey by Microsoft found that 2 out of 3 global CEO’s will be looking at digital transformation in 2018.

Our previous article discussed the myths surrounding digital transformation and the key trends coming in 2018.  The organisations getting it right are the ones that are anticipating and embracing the next technology change rather than shying away from it. They are building strategies based on applying technology to differentiate their businesses. The biggest challenge they are facing is the cultural change required to make it work.  So how do you create a culture of digital transformation? Here are the top 5 cultural challenges facing business undergoing digital transformation and how to overcome them.

Provide clarity of purpose

Technology is about making people more effective and removing repetitive tasks, it isn’t about replacing people. This message has to be clear from the outset. For most employees technology can transform their job for the better. It will likely lead to a decrease in repetitive tasks, give them more information to make better decisions and free up time to focus on higher value tasks. Setting out at the beginning that the objective of digital transformation not to replace everyone with machines is key. Following this with ongoing training and learning on all new technology will ensure your employees feel engaged and empowered, not under threat.

The same Microsoft survey also found that when breaking down employee tasks in the private sector, 64% still required a human to carry out.

Embrace fear

Digital transformation can be daunting. Changing the way, you have done things for many years can be scary. It sounds expensive and can leave both managers and employees scared, if not managed correctly.

Be clear on your objectives from the start. Create a vision of how much better things will be after the transformation is in motion. Ensure the message for staff is that they will be supported and trained throughout the process.

To overcome fear, allow experimentation. Give people the freedom to try new solutions or ways or working.  Testing and learning involves taking risks and they will be worth the reward, if done in a controlled way.  You have to make it clear you are accepting of failure within reason. Once you have cracked this you will start to see staff across the organisation working to improve things.

Demonstrate value

New systems are often over promised and under delivered and poorly received by staff and as a result user adoption is low.  Clearly demonstrating the value of the digital transformation is as important for staff to ensure buy in as it is for senior stakeholders to secure investment.

Be honest when setting expectations on the changes and give staff the time and the training to use any new technology. It will have a significant impact on adoption and return on investment.  Feedback is key.  Identify key people from every level of your organisation and engage them in the project. Get their contribution, include them in workshops and demos from the start.  Consider piloting the solution first and use what you learn to deliver the best final solution.

Respect your ecosystem

Understanding the environment you are operating in and the way it impacts your organisation should be a key factor when considering your digital transformation path.  Your business needs to operate within a social, economic, political and regulatory environment.  How your digital transformation makes your business better prepared to deal with changes or to fit in with the current landscape should form part of the narrative.  For example, GDPR changes could impact how you handle, store and use customer and employee data and you need to set up a process and system that meets the requirements.  For more information visit our GDPR hub.

Most importantly, how will it help your employees deliver for your customers and how will changes impact your customers?  The answers to these questions should be the key drivers for change. Focusing on this will allow you to start to drive competitive advantage.

Live Agile

The speed of digital change is only going to get faster. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to predict what is around the corner so organisations are having to embrace an agile approach. Designing a strategy and roadmap for the next decade and delivering against it won’t work anymore.

You need to embrace the agile approach. Agile is a state of mind as much as a delivery approach.  You need to be prepared to change direction, justify this change and accept this doesn’t constitute a failure. Deliver changes incrementally in phases with test groups.  This allows you to build in feedback, make improvements before rolling out wider. Have a clear vision of where you want to get to but accept that the way to get there will change over time.


Digital transformation is about people and communication.  Of course having the right strategy and applying the right technology are important but without the correct people strategy you will not get the results you are looking for. For access to Microsoft’s recent whitepaper on creating a culture of digital transformation click here.

If you are interested in discussing digital transformation in your organisation, then contact us today.