Four in 10 (44%) of business leaders believe extensive talent structure changes are necessary for successful digital transformation, according to TEKSystems 2021 State of Digital Transformation report. These changes could include stronger diversity and inclusion strategies or training and development programs, for example.
TEKSystems recommends investing in diversity and inclusion to help bridge workforce divides. Eighty-six percent of digital leaders effectively foster an inclusive work environment, according to the online survey of 430 technology and business decision-makers.
But remote work brought on workforce challenges that could hinder digital transformation. Half (49%) of respondents reported maintaining team culture as a long-term challenge of remote work, while 45% said connecting with others and building relationships.
Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents said about 50% or more of their workforce will remain remote, according to the survey. While the digital transformation stemming from supporting remote work can be beneficial to business, leaders will first have to iron out workforce difficulties.
Digital transformation stems from technology, but it's rooted in people and culture, according to Franklin Reed, executive director of inclusion and diversity at TEKsystems, in a statement to CIO Dive. Allowing employees to bring their authentic selves to work, even in a virtual environment, enables innovation.
"Your people and their ability to adopt new technologies and new ways of working allow organizations to thrive," Reed said. "Organizations with an inclusive environment are fundamentally going to be better at working through the change management challenges that come with digital transformation."
Employee mental health and well-being also falls under inclusivity efforts. While working remotely, 38% of respondents reported feeling stressed, 37% had trouble concentrating or lack of motivation and 24% said they lacked access to mental health resources in the workplace, according to the report.
"Executives must maintain a work culture grounded in empathy and flexibility," Reed said. "Don’t try to force things, and don’t be afraid to admit that something isn’t working and move on to something else."
Transformation requires bold leaders driving the necessary changes, according to Ricardo Madan, vice president technology products and services at TEKsystems, in a statement to CIO Dive. Madan recommends organizations implement a purpose-driven plan and execute it with agile partners.
"The key is to keep it simple, make changes incrementally, then expand from there," Madan said.
Beyond workforce, complexity of the current environment, security concerns and too many competing tech priorities remain the top digital transformation challenges, according to the report. Addressing security concerns takes priority after a year of quick digital shifts. Accelerating digital transformation enabled a remote environment, but it also expanded attack surfaces and vulnerabilities, according to Madan.
When evaluating security risks, organizations "must be uncompromisingly honest, targeted and prescriptive" with spend and prioritization, Madan said. "Identify the gaps that have been created, and follow through on addressing the fixes in uncompromising fashion," Madan said.