Why Your Digital Transformation Strategy Needs Experience Management

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As organizations continue to execute their digital transformation strategies, making greater use of technology and data to deliver better business operations and outcomes, they need to look beyond the 1s and 0s to see the human needs for digital transformation success. This article explains why.

Why digital transformation needs to be about people

Think about it – digital transformation is ultimately about better business through improved products and services, superior customer engagement mechanisms, more efficient ways of working, and increased insight into performance and further improvement opportunities. There’s much that impacts employees, making digital transformation a people-change initiative as much as a technology-focused program of projects. 

Organizational change management tools and techniques are needed to help facilitate people change. Plus, to ensure that digital transformation helps rather than hinders employees and their work, it also necessitates employee experience data, including employee productivity, and experience level agreements (XLAs). Without the insights these deliver, the addition of technology can make things worse for employees in terms of their productivity, the business outcomes they contribute to, or something else.

Digital transformation without people-based insights

There are many potential issues and risks associated with the absence of people-related feedback on the operational status quo and how digital transformation investments affect it, for example:

  • Traditional performance metrics might miss key employee-impacting issues (with the status quo)
  • Digital transformation improvement initiatives might focus on the wrong things (from an employee perspective and “what matters most”)
  • The addition of technology (without suitable employee feedback) might cause more operational and/or outcome-based harm than good

Where these issues might cause:

  • Improvements to be suboptimal in employee productivity terms 
  • Return on investment (ROI) targets to be missed based on change resistance (as employees work in the way that seems most sensible to them)
  • What should be an ongoing digital transformation journey to be cutback or to end prematurely due to a mix of suboptimal results, change resistance, lack of insight into business impact, or other reasons

Using experience management to help deliver digital transformation strategies 

To help tackle these issues and improve the probability and extent of digital transformation success, organizations are introducing experience management capabilities that appreciate the people-based implications of the changes. Plus, refocusing their IT performance measurement approach from service level agreement (SLA) targets to XLAs – which look beyond what’s done (operationally) to assess what’s achieved, i.e. the outcomes. 

These changes alter what’s deemed important (to teams and individuals) and change the corporate culture over time, valuing more productive and motivated employees. They also involve measuring the right things in the right places; it also requires performance to be measured and reported at the right time.

Measure performance as close to value creation as possible

Once an organization appreciates the importance of its people to digital transformation success, there’s a need to ensure that this importance is genuinely recognized. A good measure to use here is how well any digital transformation change enables employee productivity, mainly because a common employee interpretation of what “employee experience” means is how well they can do the work that matters most.

Many of the traditional performance metrics used by IT departments and IT service desks, in particular, often measure the wrong things, i.e. they are supply-side-focused, measuring IT operational activities rather than employee or business outcomes. They also measure performance at the wrong points, i.e. they measure at the point of service creation rather than service consumption. It’s why experience management and XLAs are growing in adoption – they allow IT to measure its performance against what’s most important. 

For digital transformation, this means seeing whether the employee experience (including productivity) and the associated business outcomes are being positively affected by changes. Plus, identifying where changes adversely affect things such that informed decisions can then drive the required course correction.

How are you measuring your organization’s digital transformation success?

I’m not talking about the traditional project-delivery metrics related to quality, time, and cost – instead, the success of your digital transformation initiatives in terms of what matters most to business stakeholders. For employees, this is likely to be related to maintaining or improving their productivity such that they’re able to do the work that matters most when they need to do it.

It’s worth returning to two of my earlier statements, digital transformation is ultimately about better business despite the greater use of technology and data. It also impacts people, not simply technology estates and business processes. So, how well can your organization currently understand the success of its digital transformation strategy – or, more precisely, the execution of its digital transformation strategy – without insight into what matters most to employees and their ability to work productively?

If your organization still relies on traditional project and operational metrics – that measure “the mechanics” of IT and change, rather than outcomes – then the true impact of its digital transformation’s strategy (on employees and the work they need to do) is likely hidden. Importantly, key issues will be missed and therefore left unaddressed. To better understand the success of your organization’s digital transformation investments requires insight into both employee productivity and business outcomes, with employee experience data helping with the former and XLAs the latter.

If you would like to learn more about how experience management and XLAs can help with your organization’s digital transformation success, then please visit www.happysignals.com

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Sami Kallio

Sami Kallio

Sami Kallio, CEO at HappySignals CEO and co-founder of HappySignals. Before starting HappySignals, he worked as the CEO of Palmu.exe, a service design company. Before that, he was responsible for the service design unit at Tieto Corporation. He believes happiness and productivity are the keys to transforming business IT culture for the better.