Digital transformation and its role in enabling the future of work is a strategic focus for IT leaders and their teams. But it’s interesting to think about what this really means in the real world. Because digital transformation is really not about technology (and that comes from the mouth of an IT professional) — it’s all about experiences.

That said, I’m not about to put myself out of a job. When it comes to digital transformation, IT becomes more important than ever, but we must change the way we behave, think and integrate with the business. IT has to stop talking about process and start talking about experience.

Changing IT’s purpose

For those of us working in IT, one of the biggest challenges of digital transformation is the cultural change it brings. Traditionally, IT built new applications or systems to solve a problem. But when looking to digitally transform, IT no longer builds for purpose — our work starts with an idea or an opportunity to transform experiences.

It’s about thinking differently about the value we bring to our organisations. For example, when we rolled out ServiceNow in Veolia , it wasn’t about going live with global IT service delivery and management — we went live with an employee experience platform.

Used across 45 countries, ServiceNow handles around 15.5 million transactions every year for Veolia, but the platform’s features and capabilities are pretty much irrelevant to our workforce and customers. They only really care about the experiences that these technologies enable us to deliver.

Why mobile matters

If experiences are key, then there’s a fundamental area where businesses need to focus their efforts. In our personal lives, we reach first for our mobiles, so why is the desktop or laptop the default for work?

Digital transformation for Veolia is all about mobility and our SATAWAD strategy: secure, anytime, anywhere, any device. If it’s not mobile ready, then we simply won’t adopt it.

I don’t believe that anyone should have to go to work to “get to work” and that’s why I’m excited about the Madrid release of the ServiceNow platform, with its native mobile apps and capabilities like text-to-voice and GPS.

For a dispersed organisation like Veolia, I can already see the offline mode will be huge. Our field workforce is vast, ranging from waste plant operations and engineers, to refuse collectors and weighbridge operators. The ability to work on a mobile device (through a great user interface), then sync and upload when they can connect securely to the network will free up time and remove frustration.

Fundamentally, it means we can create experiences at work that rival the very best that our employees are offered as consumers.

What I’ve learned

We’ve achieved a lot at Veolia with our SATAWAD-driven digital transformation strategy, but we’ve also learned a great deal on our journey so far. Here are four things that I’d urge other IT professionals to follow, based on my own experience:

  1. Encourage ideas, from everyone. At Veolia we encourage everyone in our organisation to come up with ideas, with Dragon’s Den-style events open to everyone. It’s about enabling every employee to contribute to new ways of working.
  2. Don’t restrict progress with boundaries. If you want to bring strategic awareness to IT, put people in positions where they can make a difference. Don’t hire a new chief digital officer and give them too many boundaries. Give your people the freedom to explore how things could really work.
  3. Know the user, not the technology. To create the best experiences you need to understand how your employees work and what they want to achieve, not the tools they use. At Veolia our “day in the life” programme means we go out and see and speak to people about their role. We’ve been able to make small tweaks that have been transformational.
  4. Be patient. Lasting transformation won’t happen in one day or even three months — I’d challenge anyone who says it can. Of course, you’ll have breath-through moments, but ambitious transformation on a global scale means you’ll be learning as you go and this needs time.

Businesses worldwide are at various stages of their digital transformation journey and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t challenging, particularly for a global organisation of Veolia’s scale.

But with those challenges come exciting opportunities to rethink the world of work. Through the ServiceNow platform, we’ve already laid the best foundations to realise this ambition, using digital workflows to take the emphasis off IT processes and instead put amazing experiences in the spotlight.

Original article by Prabjoth Saimbhi – ServiceNow expert

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