Change management: Digital transformation and AI implementation

Digital transformation and AI implementation

Change management: Digital transformation and AI implementation

Margo Waldorf at Change Awards explains why change and employee resilience is key topics at all levels of management and how digital transformation and AI is raising their importance even further.

The human factor is a common denominator across all organisations and, simultaneously, the biggest wildcard that can make or break enterprises focused on large-scale change initiatives and transformations. 

For this reason, it is hardly surprising that adopting change and employee resilience becomes a key topic at all levels of the organisational management hierarchy. We have observed that technology is one of the major drivers for these changes; alas, its implementation does not come without its challenges. 

With the slow influx of AI applications and augmented reality systems, the ability of the organisation to be as agile as possible, resolve problems, and adapt to change is once again at the forefront of management thinking, as is ensuring that technology embraces the human aspect of change. 

Change management efforts, beset by several internal challenges, are again tested in the ever-evolving world of digitalisation and the need for continuous organisational agility. Across different industries, we observe some common barriers to technology-driven change:

Cyber-security and organisational culture

As the use of sophisticated technologies makes enterprises more complex to manage securely, cyber-security becomes not ‘an IT issue’ anymore. Each employee needs to become cyber-aware, and building that culture of awareness takes time and a significant and controlled effort on the management side. 

Successful organisations bring change management in to elevate the awareness of cyber-security, create customised training programmes and keep the employees updated on real-life cyber-attacks, as well as to run simulated ones. 

Changing human behaviour to become more cyber-aware has never been more critical than now, and organisations need to create a culture where cyber-security is adhered to. 

Intrinsic need for strong organisational values and ethics

Emergent technologies coming in at a rapid speed there are not only regulatory considerations that must be met, but ethical ones too. Organisations need to create an agile culture that will enable navigation in the ever-evolving regulatory landscape whilst focusing on ethics. 

There are important considerations particularly in fields like healthcare, finance and involving AI, and the conversation about the ethics and culture needs to be woven into internal code of conduct and translated into values, ethical leadership and culture.  

Impractical technical upskilling

Embracing change in a safe space that allows for making mistakes whilst learning is crucial for organisations that wish their employees to use new forms of technology. Businesses need to create different learning scenarios that are not built solely on the features and functions of the new system but are based on a deep understanding of the business process the technology is aimed at enhancing. 

There is an opportunity for organisations to create re-skilling, up-skilling or other learning platforms that will make people embrace the learning curve whilst simultaneously allowing them to work on real-life scenarios applicable to their business process. We have seen examples of technology implementations without explicit calling out of these scenarios, resulting in low system adoption rates and reverting to the old ways of working.  

Lack of understanding of human behaviour

In any new change, employees need to be able to connect to the purpose of the transition to understand the role they play within it. Employee-wide consultation to enhance the discovery phase and allow for the bottom-up design of the business process workflow in line with the opportunities or limitations that the new technology brings is vital for organisations wanting to strengthen their revenue and profits. 

Application of emerging technologies provides almost limitless possibilities, so ensuring that employees feel supported and guided through that process is crucial to making them understand the tools better and, therefore, be more effective in their roles.  

Implementing artificial intelligence, augmented reality and other emerging technologies is one of the most exciting areas one can be working in. The speed of change and innovation is here to stay, and organisations must focus on making employees embrace and not resist those changes.

The agility and the rate of adoption require organisations to tie change management to the improvements of the enterprise rather than keep it as a stand-alone solution utilised only once there is a need.

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