In a recent tête-à-tête with Suresh Sambandam, while I was capturing his inputs for a story we were writing for a media channel, I got to listen to his views on how an org. can accelerate their digital transformation journey and how we are doing this at Kissflow. Sharing some of those insights here:
- What according to you is digital transformation and how are we doing this at Kissflow?
“Digital transformation is a company’s transition from using legacy office technology, software and systems to a digital work culture where all employees communicate, collaborate, and work entirely on a cloud based digital workplace platform.
It’s not enough to just digitize your manual processes or buy a bunch of random tools and say you have digitally transformed your organization. Digital Transformation has now become synonymous with a digital workplace. It means redefining 5 core elements of work: Technology, Collaboration, Productivity, Leadership and Culture. I believe we are a Level 4 digital workplace.
What this means is: our work is completely on the cloud; we use asynchronous collaboration tools; work from home has changed into work from anywhere; we have started using platforms to consolidate teams rather than having separate tools; we have transitioned from a task-based organisation to objectives-driven organisation.
This transformation helps keep the work in context so that conversations and tasks are managed from the same place where the rest of the work is done.”
2. How can companies pinpoint the starting point for Digital Transformation?
“A digital transformation usually begins with the recognition of the need to shift to a cloud based digital work platform and the need to develop a digital work culture. This step heralds the process of transformation required to move a company’s entire work to a digital platform.
With remote work becoming the new norm and the paradigm shift that’s bound to happen, there is a huge demand for such platforms. Business leaders are now releasing the value of digitizing workflows and automating all manual processes, so that ‘work from anywhere’ is truly possible. BPM & RPA are no longer “nice to have” but have become “must have” and with a fully distributed digital workplace, companies would be expected to witness a transition from manual to digital process, an increase in workflows and a focus on cost cutting.”
3. What tips do you have for executing a digital transformation quickly and successfully?
“The most important thing in a digital transformation journey is to pick the right digital workplace platform. It’s prohibitively expensive to go back and redo that choice. The next best thing you can do is to develop a digital culture within your company to access all the benefits a digital workplace platform can offer. And as the focus on culture-driven workspaces increase, it is essential to keep the best interest of employees in mind when executing the transformation to a digital workspace.
At Kissflow, it was this realisation that helped us create a bridge to help people make the transition as it is not possible to create digital carbon copies of what was done in the office. The fundamental idea for a successful digital transformation is to trust the employees and to invest in their overall growth.”
4. What role does employee engagement play in this process and what have you done at Kissflow in this regard?
“Some things that have worked well for us are:
1.Opened up multiple communication channels (work chat, video calls) that give the feeling of constant chatter as opposed to emails.
2.Transitioned to an outcome-focussed org. rather than activity focussed. Reinforce freedom and autonomy by pushing control to the team level instead of centralizing it. Teams have to be broken down to smaller units for this to get the desired effect (the 2 pizza rule of Jeff Bezos).
3.Advised team members to ‘over-communicate’ and volunteer information about what she / he is doing to the team manager and the rest of the team; that will allay the manager’s primary fear that not much work is being done out there. On her side, the team leader should clearly lay down the objectives and key results, so then there won’t be a need to micro-manage.
4.Intentionally created opportunities for people across departments to connect and catch up for informal chats — this filled the gap of the casual water cooler conversations and the chats over coffee & lunch. Don’t ignore or discount the non-work interactions; instead celebrate them!
5.Allowed space for employees themselves to lead a lot of engagement activities (we used to do this before in office, and we are continuing to do this now). We have them running daily yoga sessions daily, weekly podcasts, competitions, quizzes.”