Digital transformation, believe it or not, isn’t just about applying technology to every conceivable process. In fact, technology can be part of the problem as well as the solution. Organizations can paralyze themselves when processes are transformed piecemeal with no planning. As Gary Hamel, keynote speaker at October’s HRTech Europe show, put it, “Our organizations are a mashup of military command structures and the logic of industrial engineering, and we wonder why they do not work.”
One thing digital transformation isn’t is the automation of bureaucracy, which can merely perpetuate inefficient processes, automating them without questioning the underlying process itself and why it needs to be the way it is. Unfortunately, a recent report by the Altimeter Group found that only 25% of surveyed companies clearly understand digital transformation, yet 88% are undergoing digital transformation efforts.
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation seamlessly integrates digital technologies (chiefly SMAC: social, mobility, analytics, and cloud) into business strategies, and deploying technology is only part of it. The good news is that digital transformation is effective. At Oracle OpenWorld in September, keynote speaker Capgemini Consulting Senior VP Didier Bonnet reported that the so-called digital masters are 26% more profitable than their industry peers. The UK government has found that transactions online can be 20 times cheaper than transactions carried out by phone, 30 times cheaper than transactions by post, and 50 times cheaper than face-to-face.
How the IT Service Desk Figures Into It
The organization that has a strong IT service desk has an advantage, because this is a great place to start in terms of gathering information about challenges, pain points, and new ideas. The IT service desk team already supports customers and employees with technical needs, and it can be a great place for intelligence gathering about the need for new services and developing new ideas for cost efficiencies.
The type of help desk software you use matters, though. If the IT service desk is only about fixing broken things rather than being a strategic partner in IT service delivery, it may fall short as a starting point for digital transformation. Leveraging the unique expertise of the IT service desk may seem odd to some IT managers, but the IT service desk team is actually a team of skilled experts, whether anyone acknowledges it or not.
One possible place to start with digital transformation when you have to start small due to resource constraints is with an IT service catalog. Developing one, or revisiting an existing one can help map out a pathway between the services being delivered today and what’s possible tomorrow with digital transformation. The IT service catalog spells out what the IT team supports, what it can’t support, and what it could begin supporting with help from the organization.
Employee Buy-In Is Essential
The “digital masters” referred to in the Oracle OpenWorld keynote are the ones who know how to get employees to buy in, and they know how to use technology to engage people on a large scale by “wiring” the company for engagement through social networks, knowledge bases, and self-service portals, for example. These engagement channels, can’t just be for show, however, but have to offer real business value to the people using them. It helps when senior leaders are early adopters and serve as good examples.
The Nuts and Bolts
Governance is critical to making digital transformation work, and again, depending on your help desk software, you may have a head start. Change management features are about managing the practicalities of implementing digital transformation. It cuts down on redundancy of efforts and makes it easier to prioritize and synchronize the steps to the overall digital vision. Help desk software with built-in change management features offers your IT service desk team better tools with which to begin digital transformation.
The company that resists digital transformation could remain stuck in the past while the rest of the world moves ahead of them. But the company that embraces digital transformation without a plan can end up with a mishmash of apps and procedures that don’t work together and don’t really offer any advantages.