The what, why & how of digitization in times of COVID-19
A global pandemic has single handedly ushered in adoption of digital tools and technologies for working, learning and doing. It has set digital transformation in motion across industries and geographies at scale. It has also raised a pertinent question on our 'readiness' to transition to digital 'everything' and adapt to the new normal.
In a recently hosted webcast by People Matters in partnership with Upside LMS, Anil Nair, COE Lead & Head Organizational Learning and Leadership Development, Zydus Group and Amit Gautam, CEO, UpsideLMS addressed the pertinent question on organization’s 'readiness' to transition to digital.
Here are some key highlights from the virtual session:
Digital transformation in context of the new order
“Transformation is an end point after multiple transitions,” said Anil. And as businesses go through one of these transitions currently, they have already begun their transformation journey. Each organization would be at their own unique stage but it has surely started for most of the organizations now. Those who have not yet looked at digitizing would also be now considering given that is the way we not only work but also live now. From education to the corporate world, technology is being used to ensure learning and business continuity.
Anil believes that the education system could end up having more students at home than schools. Now that we know that learning is possible from home and many functions can be easily carried out while working from home, the remote working and virtual learning culture is probably here to stay.
The journey from phygital to digital way of working
“I have been part of the IT industry for a long time and what I have observed is that all the digital activities we do they somehow end up in a physical kind of context with some physical boundaries,” said Amit. Let’s say a bank for an example; even as a business when we have to make payments we have to still submit a lot of documents to the bank by going to one of the branches. Even for L&D, while there are tools available for managing training and development, there is still a component of training that happens in a physical space, for instance classroom training.
This phygital way of working may fade out now and make way for a purely digital environment without any physical touchpoint. As businesses move from phygital to digital way of working they have to take care of every essential aspect of their organization from employee experience to customer experience to brand experience. The true challenge, Amit said, would be access to information. Can all the information be packaged, presented and disseminated digitally in a way that it reaches people and enables them to be more successful.
No matter where your organization is in its digital transformation journey there are three components that you have to pay most attention to: Communication, Collaboration and Cloud.
Roadblocks in the digital transformation journey: Gaps in organizational capabilities
Challenges can either be looked at as threat or as opportunities. It all depends on the individual's or organization’s capability to respond to them. “The current global health crisis could be an opportunity for many organizations,” shared Anil.
Anil represents a pharmaceutical company Zydus and for them the work only increased and became more critical with more demand for hydroxychloroquine. “Zydus has always believed in investment in research and development of vaccines. Today in times of this unfamiliar challenge the current crisis brought an opportunity for us to contribute more to society.”
In the context of digital transformation, to tackle the challenges on this journey, first and foremost awareness is key. For instance, amid lockdown teachers who were not familiar with digital learning tools or teaching virtually are ushered into taking online classes. Without any formal training they were forced into this new normal. If they had been educated about the fundamentals of virtual learning, the transition would have been easier.
As the future becomes more and more uncertain, the onus of learning and building awareness lies with one’s own self. The individual’s curiosity to learn and eagerness to improve is what will define his or her individual success and hence would determine an organization's combined capabilities to be change-ready. To help their organization be ahead of the curve and for their own personal growth, employees need to have an agility mindset and spend a lot of time and effort in their own self-development.
How can L&D help in accelerating digital transformation journey
To help organizations move ahead in their digitization journey, the L&D function has to become a partnering function and not just a complying function. The job responsibilities and deliverables will see a shift as organizations and the workforce focus on awareness, agility mindset and self-development.
“While the science of learning may remain the same, the delivery would have to become more innovative,” said Anil. As digital learning has already increased in a couple of months amid lockdown, L&D leaders had to gear up to embrace this change.
“L&D would have to move from just being learning and development to being learning and futuristic development,” shared Anil.
Personalized learning would be encouraged and demand more innovative learning tools and methods. There will be more collaboration among learners, L&D leaders, L&D experts and service providers to co-create learning solutions that are contextual to the organization. As L&D function makes a shift, leveraging technology will become more important. The new digital workplace would demand newer digital learning interventions that help organizations create more future-ready leaders.
Online learning solutions for self-paced learning and virtual classroom training will be in demand. The demand for cloud learning management systems is also on the rise. From curating relevant courses to planning employees’ career development to monitoring their learning growth, digital learning solutions will be required by businesses to improve their organization’s capabilities.
As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” It is time for organizations to quickly adapt and respond to the unfamiliar shifts in the world of work with the help of a strong foundation of learning and futuristic development enabled with technology.