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How Digital Culture Can Drive the Digital Transformation

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Digital culture is the key ingredient for digital transformations; it increases productivity and innovation in order to maintain a competitive edge, said Aisling Curtis. At Women in Tech Dublin 2019 she spoke about the future of work and the role that digital culture plays in digital transformations.

Curtis stated that a digital culture is crucial to winning the War for Talent by empowering and engaging employees:

Our own research showed that with a strong digital culture, up to three times more employees say they are productive with one in five employees experiencing high productivity. With a strong digital culture – 37% more employees feel highly empowered.

For the first time in history we have up to five generations in the workforce, said Curtis. She mentioned that each generation has unique values, perspectives, communication styles and attitudes toward technology. Over 60% of those interviewed in Ireland for this research fall in the millennial age category between the ages of 25-44 years. This group is more digitally engaged, and in employers’ eyes, more valuable. Giving this group more autonomy, flexibility and support will help create a better digital culture, argued Curtis:

What we have learned is that a good digital culture that supports these generations helps with adoption and provides a supportive environment which is crucial for successful technology adaptation.

Workplace technology isn’t just about getting more work done. Curtis stated that in organisations where five generations of workers can all be under one roof – each with distinctly different technology expectations, habits and attitudes – a strong digital culture is crucial. She suggested to either empower your people through digital culture, or stand to lose your best talent.

Curtis stated that a digital culture must also be inclusive; it needs to recognise that talent is not confined to an age group, ethnicity, education level or gender. If organisations only seek a certain employee profile, very quickly they run the risk of group think that could undermine the innovative and productive culture organisations are striving to create.

InfoQ spoke with Aisling Curtis, commercial director at Microsoft Ireland, after her talk at Women in Tech Dublin 2019.

InfoQ: What’s your view on how the future of work will look like?

Aisling Curtis: I believe Artificial Intelligence (AI) will continue to be a key trend for the next few years. AI is only beginning to appear across diverse industries as manufacturing, retail, travel to healthcare.

Recent research from Microsoft shows that 85% of businesses in Ireland expect AI to generate business benefits through optimising their processes. Sixty-six percent of organisations expect AI to have a major impact- which is currently unknown to them today- on their business.

If you look at Dublin Airport Authority for example, we are working with them to use AI to help optimise the passenger experience at a massive scale to manage 31.5 million visitors annually. Musgrave, Ireland’s longest and most successful grocery retailer with over 700 stores, will use AI to predict demand, optimise supply changes that reflect latest buying trends and ultimately transform the customer experience, so it continually matches and surpasses customer needs.

InfoQ: What have you learned on your digital transformation journey?

Curtis: The ability to adapt and innovate is a crucial human trait, and we are now seeing this happen at a very fast pace in the workplace. We are seeing this in how digital transformation is shaping a new culture of how we work.

In recent years, we have seen changes such as that from cubicles and silos to collaborative workspaces. From desktops to connected mobile devices. From limited data to boundless information and insights. From rigid hierarchy to more flexibility, openness, and inclusion. From individual achievement to teamwork and shared success. The workplace is vastly different now than it was 10 years ago – this is especially true for the tech industry.

Companies that are making advancements in the modern workplace and managing their digital culture well are seeing significant results. Research has shown that they’re also clearly outperforming their peers in the areas of revenue generation and growth, profitability, market share, productivity, customer experience, and speed to market.

InfoQ: How can we ensure successful cultural adaptation of new technologies within an organisation?

Curtis: There are two sides to ensuring successful adaptation of technology within organisations.

Across the company

  • Senior leadership needs to support and be seen to support new technology
  • IT support access is critical to helping employees adapt, which is reinforced by training

Ultimately, it is about creating an environment in which technology is a business priority and in which technology is used more frequently.

Cultural factors needed for the employee

  • Job autonomy – ensure that employees feel they have freedom within their job
  • Employee involvement in the introduction of new technology
  • Job flexibility, where more technology is introduced more frequently

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