It is easy in a hyperconnected and automated world to assume that digital transformation is primarily driven by technology, but the reality is that organizational change is just as important a factor in the move to a digital enterprise. Ultimately, digital transformation must lead to better performance and increased value creation for the organization, and in that context, working patterns and structures are changing significantly, with a digitally enabled workforce an essential participant in almost every business process.
The orientation of these processes is changing however, becoming less focused on internal functions, and instead being aligned with products (or services) and particularly with customer value. This creates a demand for greater agility within the workforce and makes it essential that employees at all levels can easily communicate and collaborate across multiple teams, projects, and processes. Not only must digital skills be fostered within the workforce, but employees must also be provided with a working environment that is mobile, collaborative, data-equipped, and social.
In 1959, Peter Drucker coined the term "knowledge worker" to describe employees whose role is concerned primarily with the processing of information or the use and development of knowledge within the organization. However, over 50 years on from Drucker's ideas, we have not yet fully succeeded in building the methods and technology required to fully capitalize on these concepts. There is still an immaturity of information methods and tools within almost every organization, which makes this one of the most difficult aspects of successful digital transformation.
There are two major factors which hamper the ability to be productive in the processing and use of information. The first is the failure of organizations to develop a strategy for collaboration, and to apply collaboration methods to their business processes. In many respects, these business processes are still set in the ways of the analog world: we perceive them as linear, static, and functionally-oriented, but applying information and collaboration to a digital process doesn't work in that way, because we need cross-functional access to both explicit and tacit knowledge from inside and outside the organization. The second factor is that the tools available to support these methods have proliferated, yet are more fragmented than ever, particularly in their ability to integrate into an effective collaboration platform.
Supporting this change in working styles with modern collaboration technologies enables some powerful new capabilities, for example, enabling employees to access expert knowledge remotely from anywhere across the organization, or empowering virtual teams to work together across locations and time zones, maintaining a persistent context for their project, and making their work visible across the business. For the digital organization, it must be easy to connect people flexibly with information, devices and other physical assets, regardless of location, and to reconfigure any combination of these to define a new digital process.
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