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1 December 2015 CFA Institute Journal Review

Digital Transformation Doesn’t Have to Leave Employees Behind (Digest Summary)

  1. Paul Danis, CFA

“Digitization” carries costs and benefits. Managers can help their conventional organization evolve into a digital one while ensuring that their employees are keeping pace.

What’s Inside?

Becoming a digital organization involves more than just a change of tools and an increased familiarity with technology. The author explains that the “digitization” of an organization requires a new culture and mindset. He discusses the upside to digitization while acknowledging the risks and makes suggestions for managers.

How Is This Article Useful to Practitioners?

The process of becoming a digital organization is more transformation than tool upgrade. Importantly, this transformation is linked to stronger economic growth and a higher level of employee satisfaction, but there is also a downside: a threat to low-skilled and some intermediate jobs.

The author recommends three steps for managers who want to help their conventional organization evolve into a digital one while ensuring that their employees are keeping pace. First, managers should assess their organization’s goals and determine how digital transformation will help to achieve them. This step involves assessing personnel needs and potentially adapting training and recruitment practices. Second, managers should acknowledge that technical devices are not the main issue. They should encourage their staff to suggest and experiment with digital solutions and adapt them to fit into their routine. Finally, managers need to transition from a silo-type structure to a modular one with a loose alliance of teams.

Abstractor’s Viewpoint

Digitization requires a new set of leadership skills. The success of an organization in transition will be determined more by the agility of the staff than by the efficiency of the technology. There is substantial upside to becoming a digital organization, but there are also costs. The challenge for managers is to determine how to capture the benefits while minimizing the costs and making sure the latter are not borne by one group.

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