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‘People are the key to any successful and meaningful digital transformation’

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

Digital transformation is imperative in the modern workplace. However, care must be taken to ensure that changes are implemented effectively. Otherwise, organisations run the risk of losing productivity and alienating employees.

In fact, the top consideration when implementing digital transformation, according to Gerhard Schweinitz, chief people officer of V2 Digital, is people.

“As Simon Sinek states, ‘100 per cent of customers are people, and 100 per cent of employees are people. If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business,’” said Mr Schweinitz.


“People are the key to any successful and meaningful digital transformation. People possess the cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills to leverage data-driven, actionable insights to enable better decision making. This is necessary to power and navigate the process and adapt (or not adapt) to new tools and platforms.”

Regardless of what systems a company implements, people will be the ones utilising them. Therefore, people must be developed alongside digital transformation.

“The right people, equipped with the right skills, serve as the linchpin for navigating any transformation. Their insights and experiences allow them to identify areas for optimisation and innovation, driving efficiency and growth,” Mr Schweinitz explained.

“It’s crucial to attain buy-in and advocacy for the changes to ensure people champion adopting new technologies and methodologies while mitigating resistance to change. Their engagement and enthusiasm are instrumental in whether or not the organisation will be able to successfully shift, so attitude should not be underestimated.”

Business digitisation has evolved from a nice thing to have, to an imperative consideration for all leaders. It cannot be ignored, and those who aren’t prepared to make the change risk falling behind.

Mr Schweinitz continued: “In 2024, the imperative to digitally transform is even more pronounced due to the ongoing integration of advanced technologies. The convergence of artificial intelligence, the internet of things (IoT), and data analytics is reshaping industries and presenting both opportunities and challenges. For instance, the rise of AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants is reshaping customer service interactions, enabling businesses to provide round-the-clock assistance and personalised experiences.”

“Research consistently highlights that businesses embracing digital transformation are better poised to thrive in the modern marketplace, gaining a competitive edge and reaping numerous benefits. A study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group found that companies that undergo digital transformation achieve significantly higher profit margins and revenue growth compared to those that do not.”

Despite the importance of digital transformation, the same Boston Consulting Group study revealed that just one-third of Aussie companies navigate a digital transformation successfully and deliver the desired outcomes.

So, how can organisations put their best foot forward and effectively undergo digital transformation? According to Mr Schweinitz, there are four key considerations:

  1. Retain your people and their unique IP

“Sometimes, there are fears that change may lead to mass redundancies, as many may feel they do not possess the required skills for the future organisation. It is important to quash those fears through frequent and transparent communication, informing your people that you will invest in their upskilling and growth to effectively manage the new environment post-transformation,” Mr Schweinitz said.

  1. Conduct a skill gap analysis

“As Thomas Jefferson astutely observed, ‘Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.’ In the pursuit of successful digital transformation, the first step is understanding your current workforce’s skills and identifying the gaps needed to succeed. Operating without clearly understanding your team’s competencies can lead to misguided efforts. A skill gap analysis is the cornerstone, offering a roadmap for your organisation’s growth and evolution.”

  1. Implement hands-on upskilling programs

“Learning by doing is the most effective way to acquire knowledge and skills. Theory provides the foundation; however, hands-on practical examples are the building blocks that solidify understanding. Develop scenarios, ideally with outside consultants, where trainees can apply their learnings to real work to ensure ongoing quality. Initially, as with any training, there needs to be some type of learning bootcamp or initial education sessions for staff to understand the theory; however, from there, this initial learning should be reinforced by actual work.”

  1. Inspire learning through gamification and recognition

“To inspire continuous learning, make it competitive by adding leaderboards associated with various learning objectives and certifications. People thrive on recognition; it is important to acknowledge the team’s progression to make each person feel fulfilled in their work … If employees feel their learning is being valued, you will create a culture of continuous learning as people will feel appreciated rather than feeling marginalised for not already knowing the answer.”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.