Empowering Your People: A Bottom-Up Approach to Digital Transformation

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man in gray suit as his body starts to transform into a digital person with digital pictures in the back

People are your company’s most valuable asset. Your desire to drive it forward and your plans for the future are critical when it comes to your execution strategy. Without these two vital components, it becomes impossible to successfully grow your business. The same is true for your digital transformation efforts. Plutoshift commissioned a report that investigated digital transformation methods. Our goal was to understand what was working, what wasn’t, and what people wanted from digital transformation.

Traditionally, digital transformation starts with an order from the C-suite. It usually involves an overhaul of digitization efforts, and it’s meant to work its way through the entire company. More often than not, it comes with bumps and hurdles. It gets stalled due to a variety of reasons and costs more than expected. There’s a much simpler alternative and it involves using one tool to fix one problem: Operation (or Op) Specific Digital Transformation.

The Pitfalls of the Traditional Approach

The traditional approach is proving difficult to justify. New data revealed that just 25% of industrial professionals said digitizing their entire company all at once was the right approach. Additionally, more than two-thirds (68%) of industrial professionals have identified specific tasks they’d like to improve through digital transformation. When there are only specific tasks and workflows that need to be digitized, it negates the need to transform the entire company all at once. They already know which operations they want to fix and what needs to be done to fix it. They just need the skills and tools to implement it.

Digital transformation is not a low-budget journey. When you sign up for the total overhaul method, you’re agreeing to a huge undertaking of cost and time with no promise of a quick or profitable return. This large-scale transformation effort often uncovers problems along the way that could require additional software or new equipment to mend. By accessing your mid-level employees, you’re accessing an understanding of how to digitize without unnecessary waste. Over half (58%) of industrial professionals believe they have the tools they need at-hand to successfully digitize their workflow. Companies should grant them the power to do so!

A New, More Targeted Alternative

Many industrial professionals are already embarking on this journey. More than half (58%) have explored operation-specific digital transformation. Of those, 79% said the effort was successful or somewhat successful and 67% have explored tools to aid in op-specific digital transformation.

Op-specific digital transformation grants the power to specific teams. The on-the-ground staff will now have the authority to make important decisions that directly impact their work and can benefit the company as a whole. It gives them the power to implement small-scale automation that has the potential to scale long-term. Op-specific digital transformation is inherently low-risk and low-cost compared to its traditional alternative. It allows employees at all levels to see the fruits of their labor quickly.

While many employees reported feeling supported to try op-specific digital transformation, that support does not always translate into authority. They recognize that the smallest of changes can be critical to improving their workflows, and they have communicated that upwards successfully. But many are still trying to turn support into action.

The Key to Success — Employee Empowerment

Support does not always permit them to be the agent of change. They don’t have the power to make the necessary changes to digitize their tasks with the tools they have on hand. This power of change traditionally lies in the C-suite. It could be time to turn that on its head and grant it to those on the ground. It not only demonstrates leaderships’ trust in their employees but also allows employees to solve problems effectively on their own.

The only thing that op-specific digital transformation needs to succeed is the boardroom’s trust in its employees to be the catalyst for automation. They are asking to be treated like the valuable asset that they are and to have their input seen as valuable to the future of the business. They know what they need to do their jobs better. It’s time to equip them so that they can actually do it.

If the boardroom and IT leaders open the chain of communication, they can better identify the tasks that need digitization the most. This leads to a smoother digital transformation process, increased productivity, and an improved work culture overall. It allows the employees at the middle-management level and below to hold some agency over their workflows and help contribute to the company’s overall success. If you want to read more about this new approach to digital transformation, you can find our report here.

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