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Digital-first Organization
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There is a significant surge in digitization, with organizations using new tools such as no-code low-code to build various applications. Some companies struggle to transition from a pilot to a company-wide deployment or build a holistic, integrated approach to digitalization.

They struggle because they have yet to develop an operating strategy that promotes digitization and innovation. Companies perceive digital projects as distinct endeavours rather than seeing them as part of their overall strategy. of the companies agree that they can gain a long-term advantage by investing in the ongoing education of their employees.

To address these issues, fundamental changes in three areas are required: organizational structure, talent management, and company culture. In other words, you need to transform into a digital-first organization.

What is a digital-first organization?

Creating a digital-first organization is to rethinking every aspect of the business from technology, processes and structure. However, rethinking does not necessarily mean changing but rather adopting agility. Digital-first organizations embrace the idea of continuous change and regular enhancements. This shift in thinking is widely acknowledged as the key to driving success in the current world order. Although becoming a digital-first organization does not merely mean adding software but doing so should address legacy issues by simplifying working solutions and establishing a reliable digital future for the company.

How to create a digital-first organization?

Often leaders don’t pursue their IT teams to explore digital ways to save costs or enhance efficiency. Many firms also overlook the importance of extracting insights from their huge data collections, including information on project cost and schedule (both projections and actual numbers), cross-project field productivity measures, and person-hour statistics.

Companies should develop teams, for example, a team of citizen developers that enable an agile method of working in which key operating units are integrated with the IT organization and augmented by a set of new digital roles that help with value creation during projects to produce distinctive digital value. These teams’ overall purpose is to promote innovation and value generation in fundamental company activities.

Successful digital-first organizations focus on these three priorities:

  • They use analytics to evaluate operations and performance before taking action based on the findings.
  • They use agile principles to swiftly test and deploy new hardware and software, such as an innovative project production system software or a new autonomous piece of site equipment.
  • They focus on creating and delivering new digital processes and solutions for field and back-office operations that can be standardized and scaled across businesses.

Also read: The Conundrum of Digitization, Digitalization, and Digital Transformation

3 key roles essential to the success of digital-first organizations

1. Professionals who work with data

These workers are in charge of gathering, cleaning, and evaluating real-time data, such as past bid outcomes, historical costs, and productivity metrics. They also create databases, models, and performance dashboards to provide information to other staff.

2. Engineers in technology and infrastructure

These employees must find and test third-party solutions, including hardware and software, that best fit their company’s demands. They’ll also give project managers and upper management insight into scenarios when the new solutions could benefit.

3. Process developers

As their job title implies, these employees build new work procedures based on analytical insights, infrastructure expert help, and field input. They might, for example, prepare proposals outlining how a company would incorporate new worker scheduling software into a pilot project. Translators usually come from a background in operations and help bridge the gap between the digital and field teams.

Also read: Business Technologist 101: Everything you want to know

Building a digital-first culture

Companies hesitant to address cultural challenges usually fail to generate the momentum to begin and sustain large-scale digital programmes. Field leaders and other frontline workers, who often lack a deep technological background, are often suspicious about the value new technologies can bring.

Top managers must make it obvious that digital leaders and translator teams are responsible for ensuring that initiatives accomplish the desired business goals. New processes in all areas may be required to meet these objectives, including planning, material management, quality assurance, and quality control. Craftspeople used to analyze static drawings on paper, which was a time-consuming process that wasted time on tools and often resulted in competing interpretations when design requirements were unclear.

What if, instead of static drawings, leadership mandated 3-D modelling and augmented reality—tools that would aid in achieving corporate goals connected to better and more accurate designs? At first, managers may face some scepticism and roadblocks, but workers will quickly realize how the new tools increased productivity and reduced ambiguity.

Digital workers will need diplomatic skills and technical competence, especially when dealing with hesitant crew commanders who set the example for other field staff. It’s unlikely that their crew members will appreciate the increased pressure for innovation if these leaders don’t. Because the barrier between digital teams and traditional personnel can stymie development, capital-project businesses should encourage tact and teamwork when hiring leaders—qualities that were not always top priorities in the past.

Building a digital-first workforce

Organizations either don’t have enough data specialists, technology and infrastructure engineers, or process developers on staff, or they don’t have any. Many businesses are caught in a chicken-and-egg dilemma striving to solve this challenge. They require bright people with a love for technology to fill new jobs on the digital team to innovate. They must also assist employees in traditional positions in honing their digital abilities. However, attracting tech people and developing solid digital skills for a corporation with a reputation and history of “analogue” operations might be difficult.

To get out of this bind, organizations should define fundamental digital skills they wish to foster inside their organization, then create a management tool, such as a dashboard, that tracks the number of employees who have them. Companies should then build a long-term strategy to acquire, train, and retain employees with highly specialized skills to fill any gaps. The necessary abilities could be specialized tools or general skills, such as data analytics or field technology deployment.

Also read: A Comprehensive Glossary of Digital Transformation Terms

Structuring of digital teams in digital-first organizations

More businesses are abandoning stand-alone digital business divisions. Instead, they’re incorporating digital roles and services into existing business functions, where they’ll supplement existing personnel. This integration frequently promotes organizational buy-in and long-term scalability. Companies can develop their digital teams in stages if necessary, adding employees when new tools are introduced.

When selecting where certain digital positions should be housed, companies often evaluate their current organizational structure, operational model, size, and portfolio structure. A small company, for example, may not have enough people to deploy numerous digital teams across business units. In contrast, although having more operational units and geographies, a large, worldwide organization may be better positioned.

Companies aiming for a digital-first organization must be prepared to facilitate substantial resources for their digital teams, regardless of their location. We discovered that the only companies that successfully turned into digital-first organizations were the ones who made a significant investment in their digital teams. A digital transformation is a considerable effort that necessitates the involvement of a large and capable team to drive it forward.

Managing a non-technical workforce in digital-first organizations

Organizations will not always be able to identify enough individuals with digital skills in the labour market, and time-tested manual processes like planning workflows or estimating costs will not go away overnight. Even if they don’t have a technological background, experienced non-technical employees shouldn’t feel outmoded. Companies that want to support innovation, on the other hand, must ensure that all personnel in traditional roles begin to gain digital capabilities to supplement their current talents.

Some executives may wonder if such efforts are necessary, given that digital teams will arrange data, conduct analysis, and extract insights that will help them solve problems or make better decisions. The non-technical workforce must know where the data comes from and how it is used. Instead of employing a computerized programme, field teams might use workarounds that limit the flow of information, such as turning off sensors on equipment or manually tracking rework, if they don’t have this information.

Organizations must ensure that business users can quickly build applications using no-code low-code platforms in accordance with agile development principles at the management level. This is especially true if teams keep running into the same problems. Workshops, forum discussions, and corporate communications can help organizations raise knowledge of new no-code development tools. They could also engage non-technical employees to take classes off-site. It is helpful to reward successful completion of such programmes with better remuneration, formal acknowledgement, or other prizes to ease the strain.

Conclusion

Digitization is the future and organizations that don’t adapt risk slipping behind their competitors today, as has happened in banking, retail, transportation, and other industries. The best way ahead is to invest in an “at scale” transformation strategy. Businesses demonstrate their entire commitment to innovation by reorganizing their organizational structure, people management, and corporate culture. The changes we’ve described aren’t happening overnight, but the firms that take the initiative to address them early will likely emerge as digital leaders and will successfully create a digital-first organization over time.

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