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Future of Work

Why Your Workplace’s Digital Transformation Should Have Started Yesterday

The tech world isn’t slowing down. Here are the reasons to rip the Band-Aid off and get everyone using the tools of 2018 and beyond.

In 1980, Kodak had a two-thirds market share. In 1996, the company was worth $16 billion and, “considered the Google of its day.” So where is Kodak today? Bankrupted, minimized, and partially sold-off.

Companies that don’t evolve outwardly are bound to fail. And guess what? The same goes for a company’s inner workings. Remaining stagnant in your ops most definitely signals demise in the long term.

If you disagree, would you rather use a fax machine or an email tool to send a message? Do you want to travel all the way to a computer lab or pull your cell phone out of your pocket to view a website?

The newest tools businesses are using are just the latest in a long line of tech advancements that have happened since…the industrial revolution? But in today’s day and age, that change is happening faster than ever. It’s time to play catch up.

Word Processor Digital Transformation Workplace
No one’s writing up proposals with old-school word processors. via Pinterest

What exactly is workplace digital transformation?

It is the necessary tech evolution that your company has to go through to enable you, the employee, to get the most out of your workday. Usually managed by IT and operations teams, these tech updates could come in physical forms, like new laptops and smart desks, or digital form like moving to G Suite and setting up Robin.

With each new or upgraded tool, the end goal should be to save time, increase efficiency, and boost productivity. Without them, your company will feel stuck in the past and employees will be frustrated with what would otherwise be minor processes.

Companies like IBM have gone through this evolution and understand it’s more important than even it’s own brand, swapping PCs for Macs if that’s an employee’s wish.

IBM Digital Workplace Transformation

(And while there is no magic formula, we’ll be discussing how to find the right path later this month.)

4 reasons you should care about digital transformation in the workplace:

1. The rate of change is increasing exponentially

Every minute spent not tackling these necessary changes means the gap between where your company is and where they should be is growing deeper, faster. Why?

Tim Urban of the deep research blog Wait But Why estimates we’re at the beginning of a spike in tech and innovation. Speed will only increase and the ability to change will feel further and further away if you stay still.

Wait But Why Tech Progress Projections

Yes, you can hold off on kicking off major improvements to your operations. But will the changes get any cheaper or easier? No, unfortunately not.

Erik Qualman of Samsung’s podcast Business Disrupted says, “Seventy-two percent of CEOs say the next three years will be more critical for their industry than the last fifty years,” and Mary Beth Westmoreland who’s the CTO of Blackbaud agrees. “The pace of change just in the last few years is comparable to the prior fifty.”

And while it’s unrealistic to expect an IT or ops team with a full workload to add a new evolutionary project to their plates, companies will often outsource consultants or project managers for that reason. (Although, a better method may be to hire temp or contract workers to handle the day-to-day stuff. Then you can let your internal team who knows the company better manage any new tech implementations.)

So the best time to start with digital transformation in your workplace is: today.

2. Talent demands a digitally evolved workplace

The best talent is demanding an office environment competitive with the likes of Google and Airbnb. At companies like those, office design, tech amenities, and digital tools are some of the best in the industry.

If you feel your company is behind in the workplace digital transformation, confirm suspicions by looking at both recruiting losses and exit interviews. What top talent are you going for and what companies are they going to instead? How does your IT infrastructure and office modernization compare?

Are exit interviews claiming the office and its tools are causing roadblocks to productivity? It wouldn’t be surprising since that’s a common theme in the public-facing commentary. Having a well-oiled machine internally will make new talent want to work there and current talent want to stay, longer.

Software company Pendo out of North Carolina talks about the importance of senior leadership buy-in to make transformation happen and retain talent.

Pendo Digital Workplace Transformation

3. Productivity will increase with a digital transformation

We all know the goal of moving to new tools is to see an increase in productivity. Companies upgrade from print and fax/scan to HelloSign so employees can sign and collect signatures in mere seconds. IT departments migrate offices to Trello so teams can easily follow project updates from anywhere with an internet connection, instead of catching up via lengthy email threads.

People add Robin to their office to find open meeting rooms and desks instantly. The right kind of technology will make the entire office breathe a sigh of relief, and let everyone get back to the work that matters most, instead of dealing with workarounds.

Not sure how to measure it? Start the process with a simple survey of a current tool in your office. Follow up with a survey afterward and hopefully see the praises come rolling in. Or ask a sample set of employees to use RescueTime to measure focus time before and after. Some software platforms will even estimate time saved or provide accurate data in their analytics.

Survey Monkey Example Workplace Digital Transformation Survey

4. Cost savings will arise with digital additions

While purchasing a new tool can sometimes cost more money upfront, there’s always a point in time when you hit your return on investment. ROI can be tricky to calculate at times since the benefit isn’t as direct or obvious. But you only purchase a tool to save time or resources, which of course has a financial value.

In the HelloSign example, migrating from print and fax/scan to an e-signature tool, you now have to pay for that service whereas prior resources were already covered. But do you know how long it takes to print and fax or scan a document? Multiply that by the number of times a day you’re interrupted to do so. What if someone’s on the road and can’t access a printer easily? If a prominent sales deal is waiting on a signature, that means the incoming revenue waits too.

The time and energy savings grow exponentially with each employee using an e-signature tool, going from a half hour wasted each day to only seconds. 

ROI Calculator for time saved in workplace digital transformation

And Forbes adds a helpful reminder: “You can factor the money you’re not spending on the system into the gain of investment.”

Digital transformation in the workplace is definitely easier said in a blog post than done in real life. But the technologies aren’t going to wait for anyone, and the budget and resources are going to be spent at some point.

Jonathan Reichental, Ph.D. and CIO of The City of Palo Alto says he’s, “fearful of the CEOs who think they can sit this one out or milk the status quo for a lot longer,” in an episode of Samsung’s podcast Business Disrupted.

So what are you waiting for? May as well get started today.

Digital transformation in the workplace

Sources: Vecteezy, Samsung Business Insights, CIO.com, Pinterest, WaitBuyWhy