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Blog: Flip the switch: transformation for digital companies

Back in July, a report by credit agency Experian claimed that the Covid-19 pandemic had ‘turbo-charged the UK’s digital transformation.  

The next day, the House of Lords Covid-19 committee published a follow-up to its Beyond Digital: Planning for a Hybrid World inquiry, voicing concerns about Government’s efforts to support Britain in embracing digital change properly. 

So, which one is it? Is the UK ahead of the game when it comes to actual transformation, or are we only doing the minimum, as required due to Covid?  

Most likely, it’s both.  

On one side, some sectors have had to change rapidly for survival. They’ve embraced all aspects of transformation at warp speed to keep their business operating and relevant.  

On the other, there are sectors where the concept of ‘transformation’ isn’t as clear-cut because they’re already ‘thought leaders’ in that digital or technological space.  

Transformation beyond digital

The House of Lords’ recommendations focused heavily on the impact pandemic-driven digital acceleration might have had on everything apart from how we use it and how quickly it’s developed.   

They are calling for Government to invest in supporting our physical and mental health, social connection, education, and quality of work, instead. All of which can be impacted by rapid and forced changes like those we’ve all just experienced. 

For sectors whose bread and butter is in developing, delivering, or supporting technology, then, transformation can – and should – be looked at differently.  

If you take away the word ‘digital’ and consider some of the areas above, what can you do to ‘transform’ your business, and how can you mitigate the impact that a rapid rise in digital tools use may have had on your people? 

Mindset and decision making

News flash: being in tech doesn’t automatically make you adept at pushing boundaries and taking risks!  

For any leader it can be easier to shy away from risk than to embrace it, so if that’s something you’ve struggled with, adopting a transformation mindset to decision making could be a good place to start.  

Those who have really adopted digital transformation in the face of the pandemic have mostly done so decisively, bravely, and swiftly; get comfortable with risk-taking and free yourself from worrying about the change. Focus on making it work, instead. 

And when leaders become brave, so do their people. 

Culture & staff engagement

Netflix is the perfect example of how a culture fed by digital transformation principles like agility and trust supports the delivery of a technology product.  

They look for curious, courageous, passionate people, and believe high-performing employees get driven out by processes. They’ve built a culture based on freedom and responsibility, and while that kind of environment isn’t right for everyone, for Netflix, authentic engagement with these company values is vital.  

Does your corporate culture reflect how you approach other aspects of your business, like NPD, and if it doesn’t, what could you gain from ‘transforming’ it? 

Wellbeing and social connection

While technology has played a big part in supporting social connection and mental wellbeing throughout the pandemic, it can also be damaging.  

Even in tech companies, people can get overwhelmed with the ‘always on’ communication channels that make remote working possible, many fear automation and job redundancies as new technology emerges, and even feel isolated from their teams, families, and friends despite being in more communication than ever before.  

Digital-first companies should have no problem giving people the tools and freedom to build a working environment that supports their ambitions, meets their emotional needs, and puts them in control.  

If your people aren’t supported now, can’t see a clear path for development, and don’t understand how they fit into the future of the business, perhaps transformation in some of those areas could be beneficial.   

Just a phrase

‘Digital transformation’ is just a term coined to reflect the modernisation of systems, attitudes, and processes, and it’s clear that it goes well beyond the way we use technology.  

 Your people – culture, mindset, wellbeing – drive the future of your business, not the technology you sell or use so transformation needs to support them as well as the bottom line. 

Rewarding transformation

We’ve seen an increase in the number of businesses eligible for research and development tax relief as a result of transformations they’ve made over the last 18 months.  

Expenditure on activities relating to the advancement of science or technology could be offset with this tax relief, so if you’ve had projects, client briefs, or challenges that have required you to develop or redevelop processes, products, or services, get in touch to talk about your eligibility to claim.