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Author: Brendan Kavaney |04/17/19

Digital Transformation — Why We Still Need the Human Element

Possibilities Podcast Episode: 7

Data is not smart. Humans are smart.

These days, we hear a lot of concern about technology replacing humans. But Michael McCunney, VP of Marketing at Revenue Analytics, believes that pairing technology with the human element provides the best possible outcome.

We interviewed Michael on an episode of the Possibilities podcast to talk more about this debate and other issues surrounding the digital transformation.

These were some of our biggest takeaways from the insights Michael shared.

What Drives Digital Transformation in a Company:

If you're not focused on transforming your people, digital transformation is a waste of time.

Michael’s company once worked with a client that sold sanitary paper products.

Before their digital transformation, the client’s system was set up in such a way that you had to go through seven layers just to get approval for a $500 order of toilet paper. This type of experience is terrible for the customer and frustrating for the sales rep.

But the company was committed to improving the experience for the end user, so they underwent a digital transformation. With new systems in place, a rep can place a client order on an iPad and the order will be delivered in just 48 hours.

Now that’s a frictionless experience for the customer.

This company was committed to using digital pulls to create a better experience for the customer.

But what drives a commitment like this? What’s the spark that usually causes a company to seek out digital transformation?

Some companies realize that investing in digital will result in competitive advantage.

But a lot of companies are pursuing digital transformation from a defensive standpoint — they have a pain point they just can’t stand anymore.

Usually it’s the inefficiency of their current system that draws them to action. They realize that cumbersome processes have been built up over time. Now, they’re not maximizing efficiency and they’re not providing the best possible customer experience.

Digital transformation helps to create a more frictionless experience, not just for your customer, but for your company, too.

The Human Element is Still Crucial:

Data is not smart...it's the humans that make it smart

There's a big chess tournament that happens every year.

One year IBM introduced Deep Blue as a player. The computer took on the world’s best human players. As time went on, the rules of the competition changed to allow human competitors, computer competitors, and hybrid competitors, which are computer assisted human players.

Since that rule was introduced, the winner every year has been a hybrid player. There’s a lot of concern that technology will take over human jobs. Here’s the deal:

At the end of the day, data is not smart. It’s humans that make it smart.

Computers just can’t understand all the complexities that we face each day. Here’s an example. Imagine you're a media agency with a client who's doing a superbowl promotion. You offer them a bundled package, but then you realize that half of the ads aren't going to run until after the superbowl. You can catch that error because you understand the context of the client’s promotion.

A technology system isn't going to catch that issue because it can’t understand the context of the ad promotion.

Computers can provide us with meaningful insights that we, as humans, can use to do our job better. But at least at this point, we still need human intelligence and technology to reach the best output.

Just as in the chess tournament, it seems that, at least for now, we need technology and human intelligence to achieve the best outcome.

When You Undergo a Digital Transformation, Don’t Forget to Transform Your People:

At the end of the day, digital transformation doesn't matter if people don't buy in.

Digital transformation doesn't matter if your people don't buy in.

You can make the investment, but if no one is committed to the transformation, the investment is a waste.

Sometimes, all it takes is for your people to see proof that the system works and that it will be effective. They need tangible evidence that the transformation will work.

But other times, people just sit on the sidelines. For whatever reason, they’re simply not committed. In this situation, it doesn’t matter how much you invest. It’s probably not going to matter.

As you’re investing in a digital transformation, don’t forget to invest in your people, too. Make sure they understand how the system works and how it will ease their pain points. Help them to see the tangible evidence that you’re making the right changes.

At the end of the day, if you're not focused on transforming your people, then a digital transformation is just a waste of time.

This post is based on a Possibilities podcast with Michael McCunney. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe here.

To listen to this episode, click here

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