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Digital dexterity is the new black

  • Posted on June 8, 2018
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
digital dexterity

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” so argued Henry Ford. Since the dawn of time, change has always brought along uncertainty and a bit of healthy fear from Machiavelli onwards, there is extensive literature investigating the topic.


The matter of Change permeates every context, and today more than ever, it is one of the most current and discussed issues among companies. Nowadays during business meetings, it has become common practice to talk about Digital Transformation, which is the evolution and transformation of business models through digital technologies.

The echoes of such talks reach different departments within a company all the way to HR, in terms of people digitalization, maturity and digital culture… and converging into the broader, and well-known, concept of Digital Workplace.

However, the popularity of this topic does not necessarily correspond to a widespread understanding and acceptance of its implications. Deming William Edwards was once quoted: “Everyone tries to resist change” and in fact, even the path towards the creation and adoption of a Digital Workplace triggers a series of challenging “revolutions” to be faced. These do not just concern a change of informal structures, but above all, a major change in the culture and behavior of employees. In other words, it implies a significant organizational impact at various levels that according to Gartner can only be positive.

It’s once again Gartner that supports the assumption for which by 2023, organizations that will be able to properly exploit well-tested techniques in behavioral sciences to drive and evolve the "Digital Dexterity" of their workforce, will have twice the probability of being counted among the "top-performer" compared to those who will not have done so.

When mentioning "Digital Dexterity," we refer to the ability to quickly adapt the organizational structure of a company and the culture of its people to achieve greater value from future digital transformations.

The Gartner research paper, “Predicts 2018: Digital Workplace programs boost Digital Dexterity” seems to suggest from its title that are actually Digital Workplace programs boosting Digital Dexterity, but the two concepts certainly enjoy commutative property.

A large number of Avanade clients start from the premise that is necessary to start working on people’s Digital Dexterity in order to trigger an effective and remunerative path towards the construction of a Digital Workplace. We could easily represent the matter as a common ouroboro consisting in an infinite loop drawing strength from itself.

But how to “break” this circle? Where to start to implement change?

From the “head” of the ouroboro? Through Change Management programs that enable the evolution of both cultural and individual behaviors towards more collaborative and operational patterns that find natural enables in the new digital tools.

Or from the tail of the ouroboro…drawing inspiration from shared best practices to create new digital eco-systems that guide and govern transformation imposing the urgency of change in end users, which will then be guided, accompanied and supported along the way.

One thing is certain: we have to get moving! We must delete the word "immobility" from our vocabulary, to ignite the virtuous circle that is at the base of the digital roadmap of contemporary organizations.

It is also paramount to acquire an adequate state of mind to face the path of digital transformation for both people and organizations, regardless of the starting point or direction.

According to Gartner predictions, the route starter kit should include:

  • Engagement: the adoption of behavioral approaches and practices that aims to involve, motivate and manage people’s potential (individual employees), in order to increase their level of digital aptitude and maturity. It seems right to add that the involvement must be accepted at all organizational levels. One way to achieve it is to set business goals that are concrete, achievable and "recognizable" (understandable to most people). This is the conditio sine qua non to aspire to a commitment and a widespread buy-in of the digital vision.

  • Technology: the progressive transition of the office (or workplace) from its physical dimension to a virtual one, together with remote working phenomena will represent a strong catalyst for the spontaneous involvement of people, as well as an enabler of a new operational mode that could guide future process-re-design approaches.

  • Diversity: this must be considered as the true lever for innovative organizations. Here there’s no mention of inclusiveness, but rather of multi-disciplines and “sunken treasures” within organizations. Today, the competitive differential of companies lies increasingly in its relative human capital and in the ability to help emerge and enhance new skills necessary to feed digital transformation, that today are often buried under obsolete models of Talent Management. The path towards the future must be guided by people with different points of view and perspectives and with a wealth of skills ranging from technology to strategy, through psychology, user experience and communication.

So let’s start building our starter kit and positively prepare for change, because as quoted by Alvin Toffer, “Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.”

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