How a paper-pushing culture can stop digital transformation

- July 23, 2020 3 MIN READ

Most organisational leaders agree that the rapid digital transformation seen in the last few months will change the workplace forever. However, any gains realised could be lost if businesses fail to look towards long-term transformation initiatives with a modern workplace in mind, according to Matt Goss managing director SAP Concur.

While organisations have rapidly adopted technology to meet immediate needs, long-term success depends on ongoing transformation and improvement says Goss.

“ A common misconception is that if an organisation invests in new technology, digital transformation is complete. However, technology only delivers real transformation when employees’ attitudes and skills change alongside business systems and processes,” Goss said.

The key to success for any new business initiative is employee adoption. This means employees must overcome culturally ingrained habits such as managing key processes using manual, paper-based approaches. When employees don’t see value in the new technology, they’ll likely remain wedded to the older, usually less-streamlined way of doing things. Organisational culture and resistance are two of the main barriers companies must overcome to ensure long-term sustainability and success.(1)

Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report showed that 84 per cent of leaders agreed that employee experience was a top priority, but only nine per cent believed they were ready to address the issue.(2) As the workforce begins to ease back into the office, negative experiences such as a paper-pushing culture can leave employees feeling unfulfilled, frustrated, and disengaged. But, by putting employee needs first, organisations will see an increase in productivity, profitability, and a reduction in staff turnover.(3)

“Organisations are often caught focusing on the financial or operational benefits of a new technology without considering their employees,” said Goss.

“With the new, flexible workplace cemented, the previous way of doing things is no longer sufficient. Organisations must consider technologies that will help their employees, regardless of their location or situation.”

SAP Concur has identified three ways organisations can use culture to drive digital transformation:

1. Communicate

For widespread adoption to occur, widespread communication must also exist. As organisations look to implement new, long-term technologies that suit both office-based and remote workers, the company leaders need to share their vision. By consistently reinforcing the company’s forward-thinking plan, employees will be able to adapt to the information as it appears and create an environment of anticipation about the possibilities the new technology could bring.

Likewise, if organisations choose not to implement new technologies, they need to communicate the reason with their employees. Often there is a valid reason for these choices and communicating this to employees prevents them from assuming that the company is failing to modernise.

2. Empower employees

New technologies should empower employees to do their job with greater efficiency and ease. Without knowing what employee pain points are, it will be difficult for decision-makers to implement relevant technologies. Decision-makers should have conversations with employees and hear their feedback, making them part of the decision-making process. This increases employee engagement and creates a company culture of empowerment and trust.

3. Remove barriers

The new workforce will see different challenges in terms of collaboration and communication. Where companies could previously rely on face-to-face employee interactions, they will now need to invest in real-time, cloud-based technologies. For example, if staff members need invoices signed off by a manager who works remotely part-time, significant roadblocks would be created, which affect workflow productivity. By investing in a cloud-based automated expense and invoice system, managers can review and approve expense and invoices instantly, regardless of location.

Matt Goss, said “Businesses are now part of a hybrid workforce which requires new technologies to successfully adapt. Traditional technologies are no longer sufficient and will create bottlenecks, which can impact employee engagement and productivity. Technologies, such as an automated expense and invoice management system, will empower employees to move beyond menial tasks to focus on value-adding activities.”

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