Digital Transformation or Digital Eradication?

Published: 2019-12-17

I recently had a conversation with one of our regular services vendors and asked whether the digitization of the processes have turned out to be a workload reduction for them and she replied, in a very categorical tone, a simple and flat NO. I was astonished by the reply as I was somehow expecting a "too early to value yet", or "we have notice some change", or something of the like. What she explained to me after that NO was that whereas some of the tasks were digitized for the users, that change provoked new tasks for them. Some of the old tasks disappeared but new ones appeared, hence the tasks changed, but the volume didn't.    

To me, this is a great example of what Digital Transformation is in fact doing. Digitization of the processes do not "erase" the tasks and duties, because we are not going through a DIGITAL ERADICATION but through a DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION. We are transforming the way we work, the way we undertake tasks, the way we interact with others, the way we now collaborate with larger communities, the way we see work.   

In fact, If I would compare my job to that one when I started my career, I have so say that YES, some of the tasks I used to do are no longer needed (paper copy complex archives, photocopying and archiving faxes, etc...) but that does not mean I have less things to do: Digital Transformation has changed the way we do things, but we still need to do those things --> We file electronically and send emails. We still need to archive and communicate by writing. And this is just an example.   

By reading an article in Harvard Business Review (Digital Transformation Is Not About Technology, Behnam TabriziEd LamKirk GirardVernon Irvin, March 13, 2019, ) I found 2 key messages likely to be taken into account to understand why the Assistant role is not only sustainable but also necessary within this Digital Transformation:  

1. Assistants have the opportunity to lead the integration of those changes helping their teams and Management to embrace the necessary change of mindset to enter the Digital Transformation smoothly: "digital technologies provide possibilities for efficiency gains and customer intimacy. But if people lack the right mindset to change and the current organizational practices are flawed, DT will simply magnify those flaws. "  

2. In many occasions, it is only the Assistants who can really give the accurate overview of the admin processes that are going to be digitally transformed, much better than any external consultant or internal management who is not familiar with:  "Leverage insiders. Organizations that seek transformations (digital and otherwise) frequently bring in an army of outside consultants who tend to apply one-size-fits-all solutions in the name of “best practices.” Our approach to transforming our respective organizations is to rely instead on insiders — staff who have intimate knowledge about what works and what doesn’t in their daily operations."  

The article is very clear on the fact that Digital Transformation shouldn't mean Eradication; "...the digital transformation process is an opportunity for employees to upgrade their expertise to suit the marketplace of the future"  
Isn't it exactly the same as companies are doing? Has Digital Transformation eradicated the manufacturing of certain products or has just changed the way those products are manufactured?    


Isabel García
IMA Spain Web Coordinator


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