Low Adoption and Digital Transformation – CollabTalk Q3
Christian Buckley from CollabTalk hosted a Tweetjam yesterday on The Keys to Employee Adoption and Engagement. There were seven questions asked of the panelists, and you can review their comments, discussion, fun and jibes on Twitter, at the hashtag #collabtalk.
I posted by answers to two of the questions yesterday. Here’s my answer to Question 3.
3. What is the impact of low adoption and engagement on digital transformation?
That entirely depends on how you define and practice “digital transformation.”
Definition 1 – “Digital” Transformation
If it is merely the availability of new digital tools, or merely the transformation of the current crop of on-premises digital tools to a new suite of modern cloud-based digital tools, then low adoption and engagement have no impact. It’s irrelevant. The two aren’t linked. One delivers availability, and one equates with usage (hopefully effective usage). Under this definition (or in line with how digital transformation can be practiced), digital can be transformed entirely without user adoption. It’s just a transformation of how tools are delivered by the IT or technology group.
Availability used to be a big deal and require a significant investment of time and resource. Server infrastructure, network topology, OS and application upgrades, updates, maintenance, backup, disaster recovery, fault tolerance, administration tasks, etc., used to easily consume the bulk of an IT department’s time and resources. A digital transformation that pushes the bulk of those responsibilities to a cloud services provider like Microsoft creates the opportunity for a very differently focused IT department.
So in essence, there’s nothing wrong with “digital transformation” being defined this way, because it’s just a step on a larger journey. “Digital transformation” is not the goal. That’s not what we’re pursuing. But if we define and practice it this way, then the ultimate “so what?” question is how do we leverage what’s available to do business better (do cool stuff in more cool ways, achieve certain outcomes, etc.).
Definition 2 – “Transformation” by Digital
The second way of defining digital transformation is to rejig the emphasis in the phrase to get the outcome front-and-centre. That is, the purpose is transformation, of which digital is one strategy to achieve that. Transformation is the outcome we seek, and among other levers, digital provides one way of getting there. Under this definition, the impact of low adoption is devastating. In its ultimate manifestation, low adoption of the capabilities to achieve transformation will undermine the transformation and result in failure in reaching the outcome and perhaps even end-of-life for the business, organisation or project.
I like thinking about it with this question: “Given what’s now available, how would we design and deliver value to our customers?” Or “Given what’s now available, how would we design the processes we use to create value for our customers?” This requires frequently re-assessing the vision (purpose, outcome) against the tools / methods / strategic levers we have to get there. And when that new way is identified, there’s often a journey of change and transformation in the working habits and routines of the people who deliver value … and that’s where “change” and “adoption” and “engagement” (in the sense of giving more) are critical / essential.
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