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Adapting to change in the digital era

Stuart Scanlon, managing director of epic ERP
Stuart Scanlon, managing director of epic ERP

By STUART SCANLON Managing Director of Epic ERP
DESPITE change in the workplace being a common occurrence, the pace of it has escalated significantly in recent months given the importance of digital transformation in business. How then can employees successfully adapt to it while still maintaining focus on their daily responsibilities?
Virtualisation, cloud computing, artificial reality, machine-learning, and other terms have become all too common in organisations across industry sectors. With technology permeating virtually every facet of the corporate environment, decision-makers have no choice but to embrace it if their businesses are to remain relevant. Competitive (and bottom-line) pressures have become significant with many organisations feeling the pinch to optimise processes on an all too regular basis.
Amidst all of this, is the humble employee who must face an ongoing ‘sink or swim’ scenario. Uncertainty around job roles and responsibilities, team structures, and even business strategy result in a volatile environment where people do not know how to respond to ongoing changes.
For many employees, the routine of their work is something they can find comfort in. Knowing what to expect from any given day (within certain parameters) mean they can prepare themselves mentally for the tasks at hand and plan their agendas accordingly.
Of course, there is an inevitable risk in becoming too routine and falling in to regular patterns. Innovation is one of the areas that suffer the most as is the potential to embrace new ways of doing things. The pressure to embrace digital transformation processes has changed this.
Companies can ill afford to ignore new technologies that promise better work efficiency, real-time data analysis, as well as a host of business intelligence and other features to increase profitability and stakeholder value. However, one of the biggest mistakes any organisation can make is to ignore the human element in this.
The temptation to implement the latest and greatest technology should not come at the cost of alienating employees or their positions inside the organisation. In fact, digital transformation is as much about technology change as it is about putting people first and becoming a more effective business.
Decision-makers therefore need to communicate to all levels of employees to ensure that when change is taking place, everybody has an awareness of what is happening inside the organisation and what the potential impact will be on their divisions, teams, and themselves.
Cultural shift
While change is situational and transition becomes psychological, executives need to be more in tune with how employees are facing new technologies and different methodologies of performing their job functions.
This means adapting the organisational culture to be more reflective of one that is embracing technological change but doing so with employee benefits (such as becoming more efficient at doing their jobs) in mind. It is not a case of changing for its own sake but doing so in a manner that enhances the business strategy.
Part of the process of helping employees be more open to this change is to invest in their continuing education. Companies who invest in their people are the ones that will reap the rewards down the line. Employees should never feel that they have become surplus to requirements. Instead, they should see the business taking interest in giving them the skills needed to be successful in a business world.
Finally, companies must learn to analyse performance and provide insightful feedback in much clearer ways than in the past. People inside the business need to understand what exactly is expected of them, how they will be measured, and what they can do to get the recognition they deserve.
With the only constant being change, how best a company manages that in a digitally-rich world becomes the difference between longevity and simply surviving.
Epic ERP is a leading Enterprise Resource Planning implementation software systems specialist in South Africa.

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