Mind blowing changes are about to rip through the workplace thanks to digital technologies

Large companies are most at risk from the transformations wrought by new technology in the workplace

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 November, 2015, 10:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 November, 2015, 12:14pm

Digital is reinventing the fundamental experience of people at work, including how work is organised, the work people do and even the profile of the workforce.

Today’s leaders need to think about how to use this digital disruption to help their employees adapt to these rapidly changing demands.

Just over half of senior executives, recently surveyed by Accenture and The Economist Intelligence Unit, expect digital to cause significant change or complete transformation in their industries.

Consider that mobile commerce sales are growing at a compound rate of 25 per cent per annum. Accenture forecasts that in Europe and the US alone, more than US$130 billion of mobile sales will take place this year. This is revolutionising the payments industry as customers use smartphones to pay for soft drinks in convenience stores, clothes in shopping malls and movie tickets in cinemas.

In fact, businesses across all industries are facing similar disruption from digital.

Adapting to these changes can be particularly tricky for larger, established corporations, whose people, processes and technology can be inherently resistant to change

Adapting to these changes can be particularly tricky for larger, established corporations, whose people, processes and technology can be inherently resistant to change. As a result, leaders are increasingly looking for a team of experts that can help their company evolve. In business lingo this is known as “change management”.

The traditional goals of change management include: minimising time spent in the “valley of despair”, accelerating the adoption of new habits and delivering sustained levels of high performance. In the new digital world, these all remain valid goals. But now leaders can also use innovative approaches to make the process of changing a bit more fun for employees.

Take training as an example, whilst rolling out a new initiative, companies usually create new training courses to educate staff on the new system, processes, and expectations. In today’s digital world this training experience can be made more engaging through games.

These games can be designed to motivate users and encourage specific desired behaviours. The concepts draw on the human desire for social connection, competition and recognition. Games can be delivered online or via mobile apps. In fact, the very nature of playing online games encourages digital ways of working.

Accenture has found that changing the culture of organisations is more successful when it is focused on forming tangible habits. For example, using mobile game training to provide a new challenge, each day, for 30 days, creates new habits through repetition which is reinforced through community participation.

New digital tools can also be used by leaders to encourage collaboration, knowledge sharing and team building across the globe. For example, social collaboration tools to create internal online communities, leader boards to show rankings and badges awarded to recognise contribution.

Digital is transforming how we live. It is forcing us into new habits in the way we work and collaborate. Traditional boundaries in the workforce are blurring. And with it all, change management itself is changing.

Ravi Chhabra leads Accenture’s financial services business in Hong Kong, providing strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations services