It is human nature to fear change. To want to keep the status quo. To want to stay with what you know rather than stepping into the unknown, embracing all that pushing forward into the future might entail.

Taking apart what you know to build something new, different and better, will inevitably follow a period of mistakes, false starts and uncertainty. So just how do you get a workforce to embrace change, when all they want to do is run in the opposite direction?

One aspect that can help a transformation is having the right tools, and organisational membership with BCS supports the industry and the individual to achieve their full potential. Whether it’s access to member benefits such as Springboard, our skills development platform, or by inviting expert guest speakers from the wider industry; our corporate partnerships can keep your fingers on the pulse of digital transformation.

Chris Ashworth, CIO of Hermes and winner of the UK IT Awards CIO of the Year 2019, shares his tips for transformation: ‘It’s about keeping close to the business. It’s becoming less and less about the technology and more about what you can do to affect change in the business. We look to bring in people with the right skills so they can get close to the business and really understand it, so that they can translate their creative ideas, innovate and make a difference.’

Unite behind a common vision

Digital transformation is about making life easier for humans. Whether it’s a case of simplifying process, reducing lead-times, or making cost savings - everything will have a positive impact on people, product and the production of materials. Rather than complicating what is already in place, it’s a time for stepping back, deciding what is needed, what isn’t and implementing a solution.

Think about the available technologies

If you’re working in loans, could you use artificial intelligence to help you recognise customers who are more likely to default on their payments? If you’re working with huge swathes of data, could you implement a cloud strategy to take your data storage issues off site? Could a front-line customer service department implement chatbots to answer the most frequently asked questions; freeing up advisors to manage more in-depth or technical enquiries? In short, could you and your workforce be working smarter rather than harder?

Ain’t broke, don’t fix it

While business processes may have been working well for years and may have delivered a level of profitability that is agreeable for all stakeholders, looking to the future, if you don’t embrace new technologies, your competitors will. Looking at examples of warehouse automation, speeding up the picking, packing and delivery process; car manufacture with increasing numbers of robotics and food production where items are picked, processed and packed without ever being touched by human hand.

While one tech change may make a marginal difference to a competitor’s advantage, implementing change that reduces time, manpower and material costs, could make the difference between being market leader to struggling to survive.

The problem with change

Going back to the 19th century Luddites who smashed up the farming machinery that took their jobs in the first industrial revolution, as we approach the fourth industrial revolution, it’s inevitable that we’ll get things right - and wrong. Therefore, it’s important to get employees at ALL business levels on board with change. While disgruntled and ill-informed employees can disrupt change and dent morale, ensuring that all employees feel valued and given purpose during and after transformation, will conversely go a long way to making sure things go smoothly.

Malcolm Whitehouse, CIO of the University of Manchester says: ‘You can train people on technology, but actually having people that can build the ability to understand the challenges of business and bring the technology to bear on it is really important. We have to look at the behavioural competencies of people in order to get the most out of technology.’

The future won’t be about job losses, it will be about job changes.

The cost of change v the cost of not

While squeezed budgets and Brexit uncertainty are putting pressure on the workforce, the cost of not implementing change can cost more than small, incremental changes. While thousands of small fines have been imposed under GDPR breaches to companies across Europe, it’s fines such as £183m for British Airways and £99m for the Marriott Hotel chain that stick in the memory.

As well as compliance issues, many companies surveyed in our IT Digital Leaders’ report listed a huge raft of worries, including cyber security, loss of service, cloud safety, industrial espionage... to mention just a few. While some elements are essential to conform to GDPR and other related legislations, others vary dramatically in importance and desirability.

Employing, or developing the right talent

Aside from Human Resources, it’s every department’s responsibility to look at the workforce today - who they are, their strengths, weaknesses and adaptable skills - and think about the workforce of the future. Plotting each member of your team on the SFIAplus framework enables businesses to see the pool of skills they currently have, as well as the skills that could be acquired and implemented through BCS learning and development. BCS is already working with 350 organisations to develop IT capability within their organisation.

SFIAplus also allows organisations to map their employees to BCS membership grades and explore some of our 60+certifications that span the breadth of IT from cyber security to software testing.

Organisational Membership is a fantastic platform, from which employees can map their own career paths, developing skills and progression to an enhanced role within your organisation or to Chartered Institute professional certification. Providing tools to help staff develop not only helps them enrich their CV, but also helps you to retain an inspired workforce.

Malcolm Whitehouse continues: ‘We recruit based upon the behavioural competencies we need. We’ve mapped what we think we need over the next 3-5 years, rather than what we need now. Instead of recruiting based on “this job title has left, we need another one of those”, we look at “these skills have left, we need some more of those”.’

Looking to the future, think about the skills you will need to recruit. Will it be external candidates, or home-grown talent, nurtured from within the business and promoted accordingly? Can you introduce a new apprenticeship scheme, or extend your existing scheme to cover more departments? BCS works with 155 accredited providers and has over 14,000 registered apprentices. We are the market leader and respected voice for the new digital IT apprentice standards.

Think about the skills you will need and make a plan that develops people today, next year and for the next decade.

Make a plan - and stick to it

Change isn’t easy, but it’s a lot easier if you know what needs to change and how. While you can employ a top-down approach to explaining why the transformation needs to happen to your employees, looking upwards, you will also need to convince the board.

Malcolm Whitehouse believes: ‘If the board can’t see the advantages of using and deploying the right technologies, then they will always be driven by their desire for widgets. Digital transformation is about finding out the problems you’re trying to solve and then using the technology and the right people to get you there. If CIOs get to have that exchange at a senior board level, then it’s easier to have throughout the rest of the business, turning IT into a service provider rather than just a provider of goods.’

Looking at service providers, it makes good business sense to employ a business analyst - there are around 100,000 certified with BCS practising worldwide. Use their tools and expertise to understand and implement a structure for transformation. Make a roadmap of the entire implementation of your plan, month by month. What needs to be done when, who is responsible for making each stage happen and how you will measure the success of the plan. Introducing KPIs allows you to measure the effectiveness of the implementation, its results and the benefit to the company. It’s at this stage that you will need to reassess, pivot and repeat.

Image credit: This is Engineering

More about organisational membership

To find out more about using the wide range of tools available from organisational membership, you can get in touch with the team. The free consultation will show you which parts of your team you should be focusing on to achieve a smooth transformation and how BCS’ range of services can help you reach that goal.