‘Digital’ is the future and companies, large and small, are facing challenges to adapt and redesign their business processes in order to survive and thrive. Unfortunately, a blueprint for digital transformation doesn’t exit. The impact, opportunities and threats are different for every company. However, focus on governance, leadership and organisational culture is crucial in the transformation of any organisation.
During the WebTalk Gebruik data als vliegwiel voor je organisatie (‘Using data to boost your organisation’), moderated by Daina van Wankum, Remko Helms, Professor of Information Systems at the Open University, Mariëlle Heijltjes, Professor of Managerial Behaviour & Executive Director of UMIO and Stijn Lambregts, Department Head of Quality Improvement at Zuyderland Medical Center, discussed the factors that lead to a successful digital transformation.
First, what is the difference between digitisation and digital transformation? Helms explains: “Digitisation is about making current business processes more efficient. Digital transformation involves a radical change and is a constantly evolving process with new possibilities, new business models and new kinds of tasks and jobs replacing the old ones. Digital transformation potentially creates enormous opportunities for companies, but also profoundly changes the rules of doing business and the relationship that companies have with customers and other stakeholders.”
Heijltjes states that an often-made mistake is that digital transformation is regarded as a ‘technical’ process and therefore as the responsibility of the IT department. “But the opposite is true. Digital transformation affects everyone in the organisation and organisational culture. Leadership should therefore involve all employees. It starts with a clear vision that employees can relate to. To create enough support in the organisation, management must allow employees to get acquainted with digital transformation step by step.”
Helms agrees: “Successful digital transformation should start with the company’s mission. It’s not a matter of going along with the trends in the marketplace, but to first ask yourself what you want to achieve and which problems you want to solve. Then decide if and how digital transformation can help you in achieving your goals.”
At the start of the pandemic, Zuyderland Medical Center garnered a lot of respect by rapidly scaling down the regular care to adequately manage the constant influx of COVID-19 patients. The secret? “Data, data, data”, says Lambregts. “In no-time we established the ‘COVID control room’, a physical location in the hospital in Heerlen. On big screens all necessary (and validated!) data were available 24/7. This way we were able to develop scenarios: if X happens, then Y is the best way to proceed. This allowed us to make well- founded choices about admitting or transferring patients, scaling up IC beds, scaling down operating rooms, ordering supplies, etc. The data gave us constant insight into our patient population and the kind of care they needed. The control room will remain in place even when COVID-19 is no longer with us, because we have learned that technology combined with human insights makes for better decision-making and provides the best possible care for our patients.”
Governance is an important aspect of digital transformation as it defines responsibilities, control and authorisations. Governance is about making sure the data are of high quality, are unbiased and meet the business requirements. Lambregts: “In Zuyderland, data governance is a theme high on the agenda. To unlock the full potential of data, we must be able to connect information from different sources and allow our professionals to have access to all the relevant data they need for providing the best possible care.”
The WebTalk ended with some reflections on the future. Helms and Heijltjes agree that the possibilities are endless. Heijltjes: “I just hope the human factor will remain important and that the transformation will not be predominantly technology-driven. There are also many ethical aspects to consider.”
“The keyword is ‘acceleration'”, Helms states. “We are just at the beginning. I hope that technology will help us in beating inequality and improving sustainability.”
Lambregts: “The urgency of the COVID-19 crisis accelerated acceptance of the use of data. We also learned that the main success factor was the combination of the data in the control room with the human aspect; the discussions professionals had about the decisions they had to make. Data have to be supportive; they don’t take over.”
Data Analytics & New Technologies
Do you want to experience what digital transformation could do for your organisation? Are you curious about the opportunities of smart automation? In that case, our management programme on Data Analytics & New Technologies might be worthwhile considering.
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