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Not so long ago, the word ‘digital’ only had meaning for the likes of mobile phones, television and radio. But today, the context attached to digital is an enormous global shift on par with the Industrial Revolution, radically changing the habits of individuals, society and businesses.

Digital Transformation is one of the most frequently discussed topics in enterprise-level business. It’s the accelerator of business activities and processes, and it enables companies to fully leverage the opportunities presented by digital technologies in a strategic and prioritised way. In view of this, Digital Transformation should be one of the most topical subjects on any boards agenda. 

Here are 3 essential Digital Transformation touchpoints Non-Executive Directors should be aware of.

Prepare for Workforce Resistance 

Getting an organisation of individuals to drop their existing practices to prepare for new digitised ones is no easy feat. Let's say, for example, your CEO comes forward with a business case for a brand new HR System. As a non-executive, the benefits may seem obvious; processes will be faster, the ROI for this system is better and the software has a modern and eye-catching user interface.

However, your workforce may not feel the same. The implementation of a new system often means employees will have to adjust to revised ways of working and unfamiliar software.  It can also prohibit processes from being executed in the same way as they were before.

With new technology comes the need to learn how to use it. Even though there’s a variety of options for users to learn, from classroom teaching to online training courses. Businesses must take into consideration the cost of training and the time taken to carry out the training plus the impact on their bottom line whilst staff adjust. Similarly, employees must be willing to put the time and effort into learning the functionality of the new system. Many businesses, especially those with a smaller headcount, don’t always have the luxury of a week to devote to learning the new software. So training is expected out of office hours to fit around other assignments, which can lead to frustration amongst staff. 

Putting a plan in place to combat this frustration can help you win over the workforce. Whether you assign a user champion to combat any fears with the software or implement a step-by-step walkthrough tool to help users, the more considered the workforce feels in your decision and the smoother the Digital Transformation will go.  

Digital Transformation Comes with a Lot of Security Risks

Gartner recently predicted that 60 per cent of businesses will suffer major service failures by 2020 due to the inability of security teams to manage risk in Digital Transformation. In short, Digital Transformation is so rooted in delivering value to the business that little consideration is given to the impact on core security functions. 

As IT and businesses fast-track initiatives like agile and DevOps, security teams need to be asking a lot of questions about the potential risks and security breaches that could become clear once the new initiatives are rolled out. As the rise in data breach and vulnerability figures suggest, security-less Digital Transformation projects leave organisations at much greater risk. With the cost of IT incidents on the rise, cybersecurity should be a top priority for businesses to ensure their Digital Transformation projects run smoothly and securely. 

Digital security can’t be an afterthought and can’t be addressed simply with traditional ad hoc and limited point solutions. Digital security has become a key strategic priority for businesses executing a Digital Transformation strategy and businesses need to be open and honest about it if they want to succeed. In light of the recent GDPR legislation, data also needs to a be a top priority for boards.

You Don’t Have to Digitise Everything

Digitisation at its simplest means the conversion of analogue information into digital information. As digitisation capabilities extend, virtually every aspect of life is captured and stored in some digital form.

Some organisations want to try and digitise everything - and that means everything! However just because it can be digitised doesn’t mean it should be. When reviewing a business case for Digital Transformation, you should comprehend whether the organisation could genuinely be improved by the digitisation or whether they’re just digitising a process for the sake of it. As a Non-Executive Director, it is your role to highlight any potential risks or issues that could arise as a consequence of a digital transformation project. You should be willing to offer an impartial perspective that internal employees and board members may fail to recognise.

Questions need to be asked. Will the digitisation speed up processes? Will it improve engagement time? Will employees adopt the change easily? What would be the most cost-effective approach to this digital transformation project? To work out whether a process could benefit from digitisation, organisations should develop a comprehensive digital strategy that rethinks their business and operating models individually. If the cost of executing the transformation outweighs the benefits, it should probably be reconsidered.