Much of the 21st century has been consumed by the never-ending pursuit of the next level of technology. A yearning for more speed. More power. More automation. The ability to innovate has become a hallmark of success, and if you feel like you’re starting to lag behind, you’re probably eyeing up a digital transformation to kick-start your business once more.

So, where should you start looking? The technology, right? It’s a digital transformation after all…

“Let’s move to the cloud.” “Let’s develop AI solutions.” “It’s worked for thousands of other businesses – what could possibly go wrong?”

The truth is: a hell of a lot.

A digital transformation is never just that. It’s a full-blown human transformation, too. You’re overhauling your people’s day-to-day routines. You’re reshaping your entire workplace culture. And if that’s going to be a success, you best be ready to answer: “why?”

So, put your catalogue of products and systems down for the time being, and think about what your business really needs. Highlight and define your goals. Appreciate that your people are the single most important factor in reaching them. And then think about how you can create an inspiring digital culture – one that will propel you towards them.

Right now, for instance, the fourth industrial revolution is upon us. Workplaces are melting pots; bubbling as the unique tech expertise, motivations and expectations of five generations come crashing together.

Flexible working has evolved from a perk into an expectation, and remote collaboration is a must if you’re going to have all your most exciting ideas in the same place, in real time. For your people to work securely whenever, wherever and however suits them best, while still combining their efforts to be more productive, you need the right technology in place. And those capabilities lie in cloud collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams.

Boom. There you have it. A digital transformation led by human needs and your business’s goals. Not just the latest shiny piece of tech, thrown blindfolded at a dartboard of problems, hoping it hits the bullseye; or innovation for innovation’s sake.

Fear not, the rise of the robots.

Popular culture loves depicting Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) potential to squash the human race. And thanks to blockbuster films such as “The Terminator”, “I, Robot” and “Ex Machina”, many people have a skewed vision and opinion on AI’s role in the workplace.

“The robots are stealing our jobs. Next step: world domination”.

Well, not quite. Although AI can perform certain tasks far quicker and more efficiently than humans – this anxiety is misplaced. That’s because by automating repetitive tasks and multiplying productivity, AI frees up our time to do what we do best; using the soft skills, empathy, leadership and teamwork the technology hasn’t mastered.

AI will play a key role in making us more human, not less.

The three steps to digital transformation success.

1. Dream

How do you want your strategy, culture and ways of working to look and feel in six months’ time? Then, how do you want them to evolve going forward? Don’t have a separate IT strategy; embed it in your day-to-day. And then when you have a clear, shared vision in mind, pinpoint the technology that will help you and your people reach it.

2. Shout

Lead the way and champion your vision. Get your leaders brought in; your CEO; other members of the board. Get people to help you train others on the new tech and shout about the benefits of your digital revolution.

3. Stick

Build your new habits. And break the old ones. Encourage people to find answers, share them across the business and celebrate where it’s going well. Reinforce the benefits and the reasons behind the changes, and then lead the way in showing them in action.

Stay human. It’s what we’re best at.

A digital transformation has the power to give everyone a voice and a platform to express their creativity. It can keep our human relationships alive and bring us together. But only if that human need is there in the first place. Adoption is a huge part of the journey, so plan carefully, ask questions, and reap the rewards of making your digital strategy much more human.


ABI BOWN, Partner & Chief Marketing Officer


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