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People-led transformation — shifting priorities for digital strategy

from  June 21, 2023 | 3 min read

Research shows that business and IT leaders are looking at digital transformation with fresh eyes. And they've spotted a fork in the road. The question is, which way is your strategy taking you? In this article, we’ll be exploring why your digital transformation priority shouldn’t be the solutions you buy or the architecture standards you adopt - but the people that your transformation should ultimately empower to do more, better work.

Like many companies, you've probably had to adapt your operations in radical ways over the past year because of the pandemic. But how has it shifted the priorities of your digital transformation strategy?

Something fundamental has changed within companies — and time is of the essence. New research from Unit4 shows that many organizations are not just accelerating their efforts when it comes to digital transformation but rethinking their approach to the three principal components of digital transformation: people, process, and technology.

Click to read Digital Enterprise Strategies & ERP For People-Led Transformation (gated)

Digital transformation and people

Before the pandemic, goals such as reducing costs and improving efficiency were key drivers for digital transformation. Getting more from IT system integration, taking control of data, and strengthening compliance were key objectives.

While these goals remain essential, the COVID emergency did something else — it shined a spotlight on people and how technology influences their ability to perform well - creating a fundamentally different business transformation approach in the process.

In a profound strategic shift, business and IT leaders are recognizing that a people-led approach in enterprise applications is the right one. Put simply, more and more business leaders now believe digital transformation is about people, not technology. 

And in line with that, organizations are undertaking a strategic shift to experience focused transformation - an approach which aims to gear transformation approaches and strategies towards creating a simpler, more straightforward, and more assistive environment for your people in order to allow them to focus their efforts on more value-added work.

The results businesses are seeing bears out the success of this model: to put it quite simply, more mature technology adoption translates to greater levels of success. It will also pay dividends when it comes to giving the workforce a greater opportunity to reskill and upskill - a vital necessity considering a lack of qualified candidates to fill essential roles means that in future, organizations will have to focus much more closely on retaining and developing the people they have. 

To this end, creating a positive workplace culture is becoming a top priority for the companies furthest along on their transformation journey (and they are more likely to have implemented tools - like those powered by AI and machine learning - in order to create a more positive working environment that facilitates meaningful and collaborative work.)

The technology gap

The Unit4 research surveyed thousands of employees, and revealed they want modern technology that enables remote and flexible working; helps improve their productivity and collaboration; and automates processes to help them deliver high-value work.

Yet only the minority of people have access to these tools - suggesting that more work is needed by organizations to provide them.

The research also showed that when it comes to breakthrough tech, leaders have a different perception to their employees. More than half of decision-makers think they are innovators or early adopters. In contrast, only a quarter of employees agree.

90% of all responding organizations admit they face challenges in retaining talent, recruitment and the market fallout resulting from COVID-19. This should be concerning as respondents have also admitted people-focused business priorities have much lower importance compared to profit and productivity.

And many users say the applications they use outside of work are way ahead of their office tools — 42 percent say their workplace technology is less straightforward than the technology they use in their personal lives.

The disconnect between employer and employee perceptions on the people question also suggests there’s much more organizations could be doing to prioritize their people and safeguard their organizational performance for the future.

However, change is happening. It seems that decision-makers are watching, listening, and responding.

A major shift in thinking

Research points to a major shift in thinking among the decision-makers surveyed. When it comes to their enterprise application strategy, their top three priorities are now remote working, collaboration, and productivity. It seems that the experiences of the past year or so have underlined the importance of people and their role in a company's fortunes.

For once, decision-makers and users are becoming aligned. In fact, the vast majority of leaders can now see an intrinsic link between people and technology in the workplace; they recognize how enterprise applications are important for retaining people, not just managing them.

Speed is of the essence too. Researchers found that the COVID effect has forced meaningful boardroom discussions and accelerated the enterprise application strategies of the vast majority of organizations.

A wide range of gains are envisaged, from adding new functionality and enabling people to become more productive, to exploiting the flexibility and agility of the cloud. In fact, more than two-thirds of decision-makers expect to be fully cloud-based within the next two years.

For more information on Unit4 solutions you can check out the Unit4 HCM software for compensation planning which allows you to plan, make and communicate pay decisions in a single, simple-to-use, and easy-to-implement solution. You can deliver clear, accessible information that today’s workforce expects around pay decisions and opportunities. You can also define your unique programs, policies, and compliance requirements in the solution, gain insight into your organization, identify trends and issues, and create a single source of truth for all compensation planning data.

And our state-of-the-art cloud platform, ERPx, brings together the capabilities of HR, Financials, Procurement, Project Management, and FP&A onto a unified cloud platform that shares real-time information and is designed with a powerful, people-centric approach, so employees can benefit from better insight and become more effective and increasingly engaged. It supports rapid and continuous change while delivering an individualized fit for customers at scale, delivering the right tools to unify the processes across their organization and connect their people.

Transformation is being led by people

Today, a consensus is emerging as organizations reflect and process what they've learned in the pandemic. As they approach a fork in the road, all the arrows point one way: decision-makers see transformation as being led by people.

We’ve created the Unit4 Business Future Index as a snapshot of how organizations are responding to this change - and to help you understand how your own business measures up, and what you can do in order to accelerate your digital transformation and people strategies.

Visit our dedicated webpage to learn more about the research and discover how you can let your people lead your transformation. You will find a wealth of resources which summarize the findings on how organizations across the world are planning to modernize their enterprise applications, including a short overview video, an infographic and a more detailed online eBook.

You can also explore the Unit4 technology that will help you deliver a people-led transformation. Dive into the research and learn how to let your people lead your transformation.

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