Digital transformation – the use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of organisations – is on the mind of most company executives we talk to. They consider using innovative digital tools or methodologies like analytics, mobility, social media, smartphones and tablets to change the way they deliver value to their customers, reinvent internal processes, product or service delivery and ultimately, customer relationships.

But to achieve that, they often realise that they need to instill a new internal culture, where, for instance, physical presence in an office is considered less of a benchmark for productivity than a can-do attitude and dedication to making the end customer satisfied. To let go means trusting employees to manage their time and location. The new culture is one in which remote employees are as trusted as those in the office, but to achieve their empowerment, they need to have access to the relevant knowledge to carry out their tasks in the most efficient and rewarding way.

The internal communication apps we have enabled our clients to design and deploy on a large scale have showed how giving their employees the right information at the right time – like real-time road diversions for bus drivers – leads to workers feeling more in control of their own situation, hence reinforcing their self-belief and enjoyment of their work, and leading to a more positive relationship to the customers with whom they interact.

Research among 157 executives in 50 large traditional companies by the MIT Center for Digital Business and Cap Gemini has shown that successful digital transformation is not a direct result of implementing new technologies, but of transforming an organisation to take advantage of the possibilities that new technologies provide.

When it comes to the mobile app, this has turned out to be a productive tool for internal communication and employee engagement beyond our expectations, and we have also noticed that employee motivation comes, not only from their managers or top executives, but increasingly from their peers. A mobile app that allows anyone to instantly congratulate and recognise a colleague for a job well done – pulling them from zero to hero in an instant – represents a tremendous step towards this culture shift, and consequently the digital transformation of the enterprise.

Successfully implementing digital transformation is a management and people challenge, and not just a technological one. Some argue it works best if there is a top-down approach. Our experience with our clients, however, is that even when started at the top of the organisation, Digital Transformation only works if it is embraced by employees, and they do it if they feel genuinely valued by both peer recognition and management appreciation. Then they find ways to improve their role, tasks and interactions with end-users.

Some of our customers saw 80% of employees downloading a new internal communication app on their smartphone within days of it being launched, and using features such as news related to their own roles, or keeping in touch with other teams in the company they were distant from; sharing with everyone in the company the work achievements of close colleagues who deserved recognition was also an action for which the app was used.

As far as we know, only a mobile app is capable of doing that, in some organisations just about 10% of the workforce has access to a PC and email, whereas everybody carries their own smartphone to work so let’s make use of that fact. The digital transformation of a business is a long and winding process, but it can be fast tracked through a collaborative culture shift with your employees; as they are trusted more and feel more integrated with an internal mobile app, they become better engaged.

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