Strategies for Success: Prioritizing Change Management in Digital Transformation

January 15, 2024
The C2 Group

Digital transformation in modern businesses requires more than just the adoption of new technologies; it necessitates effective change management. Success hinges on a balanced focus on both the technological and human elements, fostering a culture of innovation and continuous adaptation to change.

Digital Transformation

Table of Contents

  1. The Importance of Change Management
  2. Change Management Strategies
  3. Utilizing Vendors for Change Management
  4. The Human Side of Digital Transformation

Today’s businesses must embrace digital transformation to grow. Because technology continues to evolve and customer expectations continue to shift, adopting and integrating digital tools to increase efficiency and improve customer experience is necessary—but doing so comes at a cost.  

For digital transformation processes to be successful, organizations must dedicate resources to technological planning, adequate training, and measured implementation. But it isn’t just tools and processes that require time and attention; organizational structure and mindset typically also need tweaking.  

Change management digital transformation helps organizations adopt new technologies while instilling preparation, support, and guidance for their employees. In this guide, we cover the importance of change management for digital transformation and discuss why looking at the people side of change is just as integral as choosing the right tools.  

The Importance of Change Management in Digital Transformation  

According to Harvard Business Review, 89 percent of large companies globally have or are currently undergoing digital transformation. Yet, those organizations report they’ve only realized 31 percent of the anticipated increase in revenue and 25 percent of the expected cost savings.  

This is because digital transformation (DX) is about more than the newest tech and tools: It’s a holistic endeavor that impacts day-to-day workflows, employee mindset, and company culture. In this way, new tech and tools can only succeed as much as employees use and accept them. Wise business leaders understand their employees may feel threatened and resistant to changes in their jobs, thus accounting for this natural human reaction must be part of the transformation process.

An effective change management process should act as a guiding force for a digital transformation strategy to achieve its primary goals. When organizations fail to include a change management plan in tandem with DX, they increase the likelihood that their strategy will face significant challenges or even fail. Change management addresses this potential outcome by aligning DX strategy with a company's culture and workflows to ensure engagement.  

Understanding the Significance of Change Management in Digital Transformation Success  

The success of digital transformation projects hinges on how well companies manage the people adopting the changes. This means much more than training team members on new tools. Effective digital change management begins during the planning and strategy phases.  

Including employees from the beginning is an excellent way to gain valuable insights and get process buy-in. Inviting employees to engage with upcoming changes well before they take place helps them align with the organization’s primary goals and fosters a culture that embraces innovation.

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The Dual Focus: Integrating Technology with Human-Centered Change  

To be effective, digital transformation must marry technology adoption and a people-first approach. Since much of DX is about improving efficiencies, it makes sense that daily workflows might see several shifts. This includes individual processes as well as big-picture job functions and organizational structure.  

By keeping a dual focus on technology and the people using it, organizations can develop change management efforts that ensure DX is embraced. For DX integrations to be successful, leaders must foster a culture that welcomes change.

Change Management Strategies to Overcome Digital Transformation Challenges  

Organizations that have undergone (or even tried to plan) a digital transformation are well aware the process isn’t easy. The main challenges of digital transformation are resistance to change, deficiencies in expertise, gaps in strategic planning, and budgetary limitations. Creating a change management plan that addresses these challenges is key to success.  

Identifying and Mitigating Common Challenges in Digital Transformation  

Just because DX can be challenging doesn’t mean it has to be overwhelming. It’s possible to create a culture where employees and leaders embrace the idea that change is inevitable while understanding that, with a structured approach, it can be seamless.  

Key to this is identifying expected challenges and putting plans in place to mitigate them. Workshops, team meetings, and providing opportunities for feedback can help leadership and transformation teams identify potential roadblocks and begin addressing them through effective communication and training.  

Key Strategies for Managing Change During Business Transformation

Just as forward-thinking leaders wouldn’t undertake the digital transformation process without planning, they also won’t want to consider change management without a strategy. The keys to effective change management are flexibility in planning, leadership and advocacy, communication, and realigning incentives and metrics with new processes.

Flexibility in Planning  

DX is dynamic, and thus, project management must be as well. Flexibility in planning allows organizations to adapt to evolving circumstances and pivot when necessary. This ensures the transformation process remains agile, responsible, and aligned with organizational goals.  

Leadership and Advocacy  

The leadership team and included stakeholders play a crucial role in driving digital transformation. By acting as advocates while being responsive to feedback, these integral employees create an organizational culture that not only accepts but embraces change. Advocacy from leadership inspires confidence, increases collaboration, and sets the tone for a successful digital transformation journey.  

Communication as a Central Pillar  

Fear of change is real. However, open communication that details the reasons for significant changes and highlights expected outcomes and adjustments to employees’ roles is the best way to alleviate that fear. By being clear and consistent, leadership can bridge the gap between the goals of the transformation and the engagement of the people undertaking it.  

Realignment of Incentives and Metrics  

As business processes change, so do the metrics and incentives previously tied to them. To measure the success of a DX journey, outcome expectations on tool adoption and use, customer satisfaction, and revenue must be updated. Especially when performance evaluations, incentive increases, or bonuses are tied to metrics, it’s essential employees are educated on and engaged with new expectations to ensure mutual success.

Utilizing Managed Service Providers for Expertise in Digital Strategy  

Choosing tools, determining metrics, and navigating security risks—it all requires expertise. So, too, does change management. Managed service providers (MSPs) act as knowledgeable partners for everything from DX strategy and implementation to managing change. In this way, MSPs quicken the pace of digital transformation while minimizing roadblocks and mitigating risks.  

The C2 Group’s change management for digital transformation experience prevents waste while delivering excellence. With C2’s guidance, your organization can ride the winds of change, all the while staying aimed at what the business needs without overlooking how much your teams need to understand why.  

C2 will help you consider business processes from the employees’ perspective while taking the steps necessary to reach the intended outcomes. By combining what, why, and how, The C2 Group can help you meet the budget, timeline, and outcome goals that will position your company for growth and success.  

Communication and Culture: The Human Side of Digital Transformation  

With employee engagement at the core of the success of digital transformation, creating a culture of clear and consistent communication is key. By prioritizing employee experience during digital transformation, leadership and HR ensure a smooth and successful transition with minimal operational disruptions.  

The Strategy of Communication in Managing Digital Changes  

Communication is not just a component of digital change management—it’s the strategy that underpins the entire process. By incorporating open communication from planning through implementation, organizations can proactively address concerns, provide updates, and celebrate wins. A well-executed communication plan creates transparency and builds trust while minimizing resistance.  

The Role of Culture in Embracing Continuous Digital Transformation  

The role of change management in DX is to recognize that creating a workplace culture that prides itself on innovation, continuous learning, and being agile is integral to success. Just as technology continues to evolve, so must the team members using it. The ongoing nature of digital transformation ultimately requires comprehensive cultural acceptance rather than a one-and-done attitude.

The Impact of Middle Management in Steering Transformation  

With one foot on the ground and the other in the boardroom, middle managers play a pivotal role in executing DX strategies. Mid-level team members must translate specific goals into actionable steps, provide necessary support and training, and facilitate company-wide communication. As the driving force for enacting transformational processes, middle management is uniquely positioned to impact the process for good. Both visionaries and doers, they can lead by example and develop a culture receptive to change.  

Reiterating the Importance of Change Management in Digital Transformation  

Digital transformation and change management are two sides of the same coin. Inherently intertwined, achieving the goals of DX depends highly on how the process is managed for the people undergoing it. Thus, creating effective change management strategies that begin during the transformation planning stage is not just a best practice—it’s an imperative.  

From overcoming challenges to engaging external expertise, addressing the human factor in transformation is key for organizations navigating the evolving digital landscape. Embracing change management principles not only improves the outcomes of current initiatives—it also fosters the development of an agile culture ready to innovate on the next challenge.  

Reassess Technology Change Management With C2  

Organizations prioritizing change management in their digital transformation journeys are poised to thrive in the digital age. But walking this process alone isn’t easy. This global transformation study shows that 37 percent of executives feel their organization’s greatest barrier to transformation is underestimating how much change will impact their operations. By partnering with The C2 Group, you can be sure you haven’t overlooked the intricacies of change management and are instead approaching this ongoing process with a proven strategy.  

C2 will assess your organization to develop a plan for your unique situation. We’ll identify potential cultural roadblocks and areas of resistance to prepare for when undergoing transformation. With our experience, we’ll help you find areas needing attention and develop tactics to overcome resistance to change. This way, you can communicate effectively with your team regarding the individual adjustments they can expect for their specific roles and help them transition from current state to future state. With a clear vision of where you are, where you’re going, and how you’ll get there, you can succeed with digital transformation change management.  

To learn more about The C2 Group’s business transformation and change management experiences, contact us today.