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Covid-19 digital transformation response revisited - what has really changed?

Melissa Zanocco
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Juned Ahmed, business analysis and improvement graduate, Openreach, summarises the main points from the DTTG Peer Review Programme Covid-19 re-visited session.

The Infrastructure Client Group’s Digital Transformation Task Group (DTTG) is made up of Chief Data Officers and their equivalents from the most progressive economic infrastructure clients and evolved from the Project 13 Digital Transformation Pillar. DTTG members met virtually in April 2020 for a special session to share initial learnings from the Covid-19 crisis along with common lessons, challenges and successes and the place digital transformation had in managing the pandemic in their organisations. You can read the initial reflections here.

One year on, the DTTG members met in May 2021 to reflect on the lessons from the pandemic. Members gave their thoughts regarding the ‘digital’ changes that were taken in response to COVID-19 and the lessons learned. They then looked forward and reflected on the extent to which those lessons will be incorporated / embedded into their ongoing strategy and culture.

A high-level summary from the discussion can be found here but highlights included:

  • Digital is now accepted by all parts of the organisation as inevitable.  Doubters and laggards have been forced to switch their mindsets, suspend their disbelief, and change the corporate mindset of ‘this won’t work for us because people won’t do it’.
  • The gulf between the extent that people have personal readiness for digital and their level of expectation, which was significantly higher than the business was ready to make before, is now closing.
  • ‘Resilient as a business, fragile as humans’: The importance of mental health and seeing the requirements of people, not just business needs, is now obvious.
  • Methods and expectations in the delivery of training particularly for field-based operatives has had to change and adapt. The ideal state would be to create tools that need minimum or no training as they are intuitive and user friendly.
  • Learning to trust employees to do their work even when they are not being physically overseen and to believe that people can adapt and be effective away from the office took time but is now reaping benefits.
  • ‘Work is something you do, not somewhere you go’. There is an increased need for collaboration spaces in “the office” less need for desks
  • Success breeds success approach: Building a constructive culture that celebrates success rather than focusing on the 2% that went wrong. What can we do better? If something went wrong, asking how we can help and offering thanks when it is fixed rather than having a blame culture leads to a more productive and innovative workforce.

Miranda Sharp, Chair, DTTG Peer Review Programme, commented:

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“Thank you to the ICG members who contributed to this discussion, it was enlightening to hear reflections on the impact of the pandemic on the operations which deliver the services of infrastructure and the different ways digital technology is now being used in the workplace."

 

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