Digital transformation creates different challenges for people, depending on their role within the company. While businesses transition from manual to digital ways of working to become more efficient and grow, it’s a challenge for everyone to adapt to evolving IT. Companies going through change programmes need to consider the many ways they will affect different parts of the business and individuals.

“The change that individuals see happening and the impact they see it potentially having can be radically different,” explains Pete Hulme, Data Centre Technical Lead at Dimension Data. “One person’s threat is the next person’s opportunity.”

Much has been written about the threat of automation to jobs, particularly in customer service roles. Online banking and the evolution of the cash machine to provide a wider range of services have, for example, changed the face of our high street banks.

For IT managers, the transition to cloud services can create job insecurity. In fact, a 2016 Bitdefender survey on the topic of virtualisation and hybrid infrastructure revealed that 66% of US IT decision makers feared losing their job.

Lack of clarity creates uncertainty

IT professionals will look at the role they occupy and the tasks they perform and consider how much of that might remain oncean alternative way of working has been introduced. Back in 2011, Gartner noted that 70% of IT resources were devoted to operating IT infrastructure and predicted that to fall to just 35%by 2020. If IT staff aren’t given clarity over how their positions will evolve in the face of change, uncertainty and concern will inevitably result.

As well as job security, there have been operational concerns around the security of cloud. With high-profile data breaches regularly making news, it’s little surprise that 73%of those surveyed by Bitdefender admitted to a fear of company liability for financial compensation in the event of a security breach.

Cybersecurity has been an industry focal point for many years, but fear is now subsiding. Intel recently revealed that those who trust public cloud now outnumber those who don’t by more than two to one and that 62% store sensitive customer information in the public cloud.

Focus is perhaps shifting to the potential weak points that can exist within the organisation itself, such as the growing issue of shadow IT. A shocking near 40% of cloud services are commissioned without the involvement of IT, adding to woes over keeping data secure. Operational staff, delighted by the flexibility they gain from shared services and business apps, are bringing their own devices to work and utilising whatever makes them efficient. It takes a clear IT strategy and effective employee engagement to bring such activities under control.

New technology can open up unforeseen opportunities and for some this has resulted in a deeper level of involvement in IT. Marketing, for example, is keen to exploit the benefits of information sharing and communications technology to create sales opportunities and improve customer service. IT has become an essential tool in the evolution of the communications channels strategy, so much so that Gartner has reported marketing technology spend is on track to exceed that of the CIO this year.

Engaging through change

Companies need to effectively manage change to take new opportunities and to grow. IT challenges can mean different things to individuals and to different departments. While embracing change and the benefits it can bring, businesses need to take time to understand why people have concerns, what they are founded upon and establish strong two-way communications to allay fears.

Hulme says organisations need to communicate well and that this starts with agreeing a common view of what it is they are trying to achieve. Change should be communicated to staff in the context of what the company needs to deliver to clients and how it is going to maintain differentiation in the market. “Transformation and change needs to be communicated in a meaningful way,” Hulme adds. “Companies need to keep staff focused on the task in hand and, at the same time, create an environment where everyone pulls in the same direction. If staff feel insecure, this aim will be severely hampered. To avoid big change announcements from causing concern, everyone needs to be given a clear explanation of how the change affects them.”

This includes being clear about the reallocation of resources freed-up from operational duties by automation. If only 35% of IT resources are needed to run operations, expertise can be refocused to add value to activities. As Clive Longbottom of analyst company Quocirca says, “The canny CIO can then focus on what matters, which is supporting the business.”

While change is inevitable and (arguably) necessary for success, companies need to be sensitive to the fact that different parts of the organisation will view it differently. Management needs a joined-up message that will engage individuals and teams with all their differing priorities, to channel excitement while easing concerns.

This article was brought to you by - Dimension Data