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Undertaking a Digital Transformation That Changes Behaviour 

Introducing new technology without empowering employees can leave an organisation open to risks.

by Niall McCarthy 2 min

    The implementation of far-reaching behavioural changes within an organisation can prove tremendously challenging and while technological solutions are reaping dividends, human factors ultimately determine success. While making technology the central focus of a digital transformation is understandable and popular, such an approach can actually leave an organisation open to risks. In the rush to embrace new technology, culture needs to change and workers should be empowered rather than being left behind.

    Digital transformation and behavioural patterns

    A digital transformation involves the integration of technology into all aspects of a company’s business which delivers fundamental changes for both members of staff and customers. It has become an essential undertaking for most businesses so that they can remain both relevant and competitive in a world increasingly driven by technology.

    While this may sound like a relatively simple and highly beneficial undertaking, it can only be effective when combined with a human-first approach. For any new technology to be effective in a business environment, it is essential to understand the needs of the staff and how a new solution fits into an organisation’s cultural framework. Only when those considerations are taken into account can new digital systems flourish and fulfil their full potential.

    Best practice does not involve a head-first leap into an exciting new technology that promises, on paper at least, to revolutionise a business. Rather, an organisation must focus on the behavioural patterns most likely to impact the business model and plan accordingly.

    The cultural challenge

    In most cases, the technological steps of a digital transformation prove more straightforward than tackling the cultural challenge. Changing a corporate culture cannot be achieved through the simple transfer of skills alone. Rather, it needs to rely on a combined top-down and bottom-up strategy whereby both management and employees are heavily involved.

    Changing a long-running system can prove a headache for certain employees who have little desire to leave their comfort zone. It is therefore wise to make rewards for new behaviour a central facet of a cultural rebuilding program. Incentive systems and performance management criteria aligned with the goals of the cultural overhaul should have the effect of encouraging new behaviour until it eventually becomes the unconscious norm.

    The people first approach

    Carrying out a digital transformation is extremely complex and the amount of change involved puts pressure on an organisation’s structure and its staff. Many companies forget to integrate personnel into the process from the outset which can result in a workforce that lacks motivation and clear guidance. Workers can be disconnected from new software and digital procedures they have not become yet become familiar with.

    It is critical that business leaders understand the culture within their organisations and drive change by ensuring members of staff buy into their vision for what is to come. Steady involvement coupled with clear guidance and support helps workers to gain a sense of ownership. That in itself is a driver of behavioural change whereby the people become the beating heart of the technological transformation.

    An unplanned transformation

    Covid-19 provides a key, albeit unplanned example. Most people were familiar with video-conferencing and file-sharing systems to a certain extent before the pandemic swept across the world. That understanding greatly facilitated the sudden and necessary switch from face-to-face communication to online meetings. In this case, whether intentional or not, most people understood and were already trained for the digital transformation that was unexpectedly forced upon their organisation, allowing it to continue operating.

    Given the level of uncertainty and fear in the early days of the pandemic, the majority also bought into the vision behind the sudden transformation. In fact, some companies found the unexpected virtual culture and behavioural changes brought on by Covid-19 so successful that they have kept remote working policies and online meetings in place, leading to greater business agility, productivity and cost savings.

    Focusing on office workers, the pandemic provides an excellent example of a relatively informed global workforce swiftly buying into a technological vision, which was also a necessity at the time, which resulted in a profound shift in corporate behaviour that ultimately delivered success. In the same way, a digital overhaul that is actually planned pays off when people are put first, whereby they are briefed, trained and included in the process, which allows them to believe in it and flourish when it is put in place.

    Example: Regulatory software, culture and behaviour

    A digital overhaul affects all facets of a company’s operations from customer interfaces to internal processes. More and more companies are now digitising their policy management systems and tools like EQS Rulebook are making rules and regulations more accessible to employees. Such software can only be successful if the guidelines mentioned above are adhered to whereby people are put first, the culture is overhauled and the digital solution is introduced together with effective training and communication. All of these elements contribute to the cultural and behavioural changes necessary for the new system to succeed.

    First of all, what exactly is regulatory software and how does it impact a company’s policy management? Employees make important decisions every day and they need to be familiar with requirements and guidelines to avoid penalties and procedural questions. Accessible from anywhere, modern digital policy management tools present and explain guidelines in a simple and interactive manner to ensure competence in all situations.

    When the decision to adopt such a software solution is made, the organisation needs to invest in tech infrastructure to increase monitoring and support a data-driven approach. It is equally important to invest time in communicating with staff and to inform them about the upcoming changes in a way that interest is both generated and retained.

    Policy can prove complicated and boring for many audiences and as such, emphasis must be placed on the personal advantages of digitising rules for employees such as time savings, clearer guidelines, better structure and a more user-friendly experience. The same goes for the wider organisation and how cutting-edge digital policy management can help the business save costs, make the right decisions and avoid any subsequent legal penalties.

    When the new regulatory software is up and running, the people-first approach must continue and policy ownership needs to be defined, effective policies have to be created and the slew of communication about Rulebook needs to be ongoing. Not only does communication need to be aimed at all relevant employees – it has to be acknowledged. After rules have been successfully digitised, communicated to all relevant audiences and certifications have been gathered, ongoing training is essential to really embed the policies and cement the behavioural shift towards a digital approach to conduct.


    Regulatory software shows how a modern digital compliance tool can only prove successful if it is implemented with a people-first mindset coupled with a cultural shift in how an organisation handles compliance. It is proof that while the technology may prove significant, the people and a shift in corporate culture ultimately determine success. For business leaders, that does not only mean selecting the correct technology for the digital transformation. It also means staff have to be driven through effective briefings, guidance, training and empowerment to enable a shift in culture that ultimately delivers success.

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    Niall McCarthy
    Niall McCarthy

    Niall is a Content Writer at the EQS Group. Originally from Ireland, he previously worked as a journalist, which included reporting on major corruption trends worldwide.