Learn from Experience: Practical advice on transforming your business through technology
Topic: Managing organisational change
A recent survey* revealed that the biggest obstacle to business transformation is managing change within the organisation. Growth inevitably brings change, and you must adapt to keep pace with ways of doing business which new technologies are enabling and driving.
*IBEC Survey 2017
We asked the Three Customer Insights Panel what advice they would offer to help other businesses manage change in the face of going (more) digital? Over to them…
Change is a process, not an event.
"My advice to other similar companies is to embrace the change rather than resist or fear it. We all fear technology that we don’t understand so therefore it is important to conduct extensive research; educate yourself and your staff; be patient throughout; encourage new ideas to help with the process; and clearly communicate the vision that you have for the technology you want to use. Keep that vision at the forefront of everyone’s mind, especially when times get tough during change. Remember that change is a process, not an event."
The players will identify the need for change.
"It's very important to bring the key stakeholders along with the process. Bring together a task team – senior management, middle management, some from the 'factory floor' – even an effected client. The key objective is to keep those most effected well-informed, then the players themselves will identify the need for change. The next difficulty is the day-to-day business distractions which may prevent us from completing the change. Yet even as we complete our changes we realise there is no end. We should make change management processing part of our weekly tasks within our business."
Know what evolving customer expectations or requirements are.
"We believe the most important advice for managing change in a digital world is to stay in tune with new developments in customer expectations and new technologies being introduced. If these two areas are correctly addressed then much better outcomes can be expected. Without knowing what evolving customer expectations or requirements are, we cannot know where to change our systems or processes. Without being aware of emerging technologies we may miss real opportunities to leverage new tools or systems for managing change in the digital world. It's vital to be constantly monitoring these two areas to be change ready."
Education Solution Specialist
Create a vision of where you want to get to.
"From our experience both of digitally transforming our own business and of helping to digitally transform our customers (schools), our advice is to start by creating a vision of where you want to get to. From there, build a clearly defined strategy on how you will get there and include every individual who will play even the smallest role. When we work with post-primary schools to develop their strategies for using technology for teaching and learning, we know that the strategy must take all stakeholders into account. This prevents unforeseen obstacles and ensures each step in the journey is supported, so the vision can be reached."
Find providers who understand your business.
"My advice is to act early and act fast. I've witnessed technology completely transform my line of business over the last 16 years. Being an early adopter of new technologies and digital trends has given me competitive advantage. For example, I was one of the first to offer real-time event photography in Ireland - where a photo of someone accepting an award has gained traction on Twitter before they've made it back to their seat. I also would suggest (and rely on myself) using cloud-based applications for invoicing and file sharing. This helps keep operations efficient and cost-effective. Bottom line, find providers who understand your business and will help you achieve your competitive advantage."
Take small steps.
"Firstly, sell change to your staff as something of benefit not only to the company but also to them. Pinpoint advantages the changes will make for your staff. Having staff on board from the very start with any change – technology or otherwise – makes it easier. Secondly, take small steps. In my experience you get one chance when introducing new technology or change and if it hasn't been tested, foolproofed or thought through you could find yourself with the tough task of convincing deflated staff that changes you are trying to make, or technologies you are trying to introduce, are correct."
Head of IT
Don't be afraid of change and new technologies.
"It is important not to be afraid of change and not to be afraid of new technologies. A shift from wired communications to newer wireless and IP based systems is inevitable. Although care is needed when transitioning from old methods and legacy systems, particularly in relation to managing expectations, the results can greatly reduce risks and costs as well as create business continuity processes where none existed before."
Owner and MD
Outline the reasons for changes and the future benefits.
"It’s all about communication. Change is inevitable but many people find it difficult. Usually this is because they don’t understand the necessity. It’s important as you plan to make changes in your organisation that you clearly outline the reasons why you are making the changes and, most importantly, the future benefits. It’s much easier to implement change when people are brought along on the journey, rather than blindly landing them in an unknown outcome."