Technology industry leaders face a lot of challenges when it comes to heading their digital transformation efforts. Where do you start? Are we too big? Are we too small? How much budget do I need? What do I do about low adoption rates?
But the one element that is most challenging of all is a community. Nearly every leader tasked with trying to figure out digital transformation is doing it alone.
There’s not a platform for like-minded people to discuss ideas and have a candid conversation about the challenges they face daily in their organizations. Leaders are left alone to fight their battles.
So, we launched a new initiative called WorkMinus Boardrooms–an event series that brings tech leaders together to talk about digital transformation, share struggles, learn from others, and encourage each other.
The event was set in a cozy, comfortable lounge where people could converse freely and discuss their ideas with everyone present in the room.
We invited 14 leaders from different industries and roles. There were C-level executives, IT directors, digital transformation heads, and financial advisors. Some of them had a successful digital transformation strategy in place while others were wondering if it is just a trend they had to wade through until the next big thing comes by.
The event kicked off with Neil sharing the backstory of WorkMinus–why we care about the future of work, where we are heading, and how to bend the trajectory back to a better place.
A case for digital transformation
Our main speaker was Mr Sukumar Rajagopal, former CIO of Cognizant Technology Solutions, a Fortune 200 company.
When he started his role in 2007, Sukumar was asked by the CFO, “Are you going to be about transformation or efficiency?”
Sukumar said, “Transformation.” The CFO said, “That’s fine, but you won’t get any more budget to do it.”
Sukumar used lean startup principles to get the project going and first focused on the company’s timesheets. He faced a lot of challenges with users not adopting his tools even though they were far superior to the other alternatives. He shared how eventually, the entire company of more than a hundred thousand people started using the digital tools they had created.
The amazing part was that by pursuing transformation, Sukumar led the company to greater efficiency too. Within the first three years of replacing manual processes, Cognizant saw a 5x increase in the organization’s productivity.
“When organizations transform, efficiency automatically follows”, he said.
A new digital workplace for the future
This event was sponsored by Kissflow, and the CEO Mr Suresh Sambandam spoke about how modern organizations can adopt a digital workplace platform that isn’t IT-driven, but people-driven. If the platform is built right, then the finance team can create their own timesheet app in a few hours rather than waiting for IT to take six months to produce it.
“A whole generation of employees that’s used to sophisticated software and world-class apps are entering the workforce today. They have certain expectations of the software they use at work. If you were to engage this workforce, you must be digital at your core,” he said.
Suresh quoted a report from Forrester that positioned a digital workplace as the operational system of record for a company. “Your ERP is your financial system of record. Your CRM is your customer system of record. But everything that happens operationally is scattered around dozens of apps instead of on a common platform.” Suresh said that an employee-first model is key to the digital transformation success of any organization.
When we established this event, we wanted to make sure there were no spectators, only participants. The issues we discuss aren’t able to be answered by a single person or at a single event. We want to start the conversation and get people listening to each other.
We passed around sticky notes and asked, “What are your biggest digital transformation fears?”
Here are some of the most common answers we got:
- Employee readiness and changing their mindset
- Using different tools for different business cases
- The size of their organization
- Measuring the success
- Convincing stakeholders
Then we took one of the most burning questions that nearly everyone had about digital transformation:
How the heck do you measure the ROI?
Here’s the summary of the discussion:
- It all begins with understanding what you want. Digitize data? Improve employee experience? Or, boost operational efficiency? Find focus areas like customers, infrastructure, and innovative disruption and start from there.
- Depending on the functional area you choose, you can come up with metrics. Say, you choose customers, your KPIs would be the net promoter score or the churn rate or positive feedback.
- Zoom back and look at your efforts holistically. See if it is affecting other areas, either positively or negatively.
- Place high importance on stability while going through a transformation.
Swag in the bag
Once the discussion came to a halt, each guest received a bunch of WorkMinus goodies.
A networking session over brunch followed. The guests exchanged cards. Some continued their discussion while others bonded over the books they read and love.
And, that’s a wrap!
We broke away from all the norms with this event. We had an awesome bunch of people that sparked amazing ideas continuously for over two and a half hours.
We want to thank all our guests and our sponsor Kissflow for making this an absolutely delightful event.