Behaviour Change: Digital Transformations' Hidden Ingredient


Behaviour Change: Digital Transformations' Hidden Ingredient

Behavioural change is key in successfully implementing digital transformations. It concerns people adopting new ways of working around systems and processes they are not yet familiar with. In this article, we will show you why such changes in behaviour are important and how to achieve them.

Imagine, you’ve embarked on an exciting journey to fundamentally transform your business by implementing a new digital system. With specialised support from project teams, you’ve launched a cloud-enabled solution to digitise key business processes. You’re confident that it will streamline, standardise and – ultimately – harmonise operations, driving business growth. The future looks bright. However, despite extensive training and a communication campaign, your company struggles to reach the business volumes required to run the business, let alone make use of new, advanced functionality. Employees are having difficulties incorporating the new processes and system into their daily practices. A common pitfall in an unsuccessful digital transformation is not the system’s complexity or its technical implementation. It’s employees not being able to adapt their ways of working, creating a disconnection between the people and the system. And, unfortunately, without behavioural change, it’s just not possible to unlock your transformation’s full potential. 

What is behaviour change?

Before we further dive into why changing behaviour is crucial, let’s have a look at what we mean by ‘behaviour’. It’s the concrete way someone acts, either visibly (external behaviour) or non-visibly (internal behaviour) towards others. Digital transformations require certain behaviours from employees, so they can embrace new standardised processes to work with the system effectively. An example is using data from a cloud system to make data-driven decisions – one of Deloitte’s identified key ‘behaviours’ for realising the benefits of digital transformation. Other pivotal behaviours in relation to the new system are taking ownership of implementation, collaborating across different teams and proactively solving problems. Leaders and employees should strive to adopt all of these as daily practices. To achieve these desired behaviours in the context of digital implementation, change is inevitable. New habits and routines must develop to align with how the system and associated processes are set up. By supporting the connection between users and systems to adopt these behaviours, you’ll draw out the full potential of the digital system, reaping the benefits it offers.

The system launch is just the start to the real adoption journey

Why is the human-machine collaboration crucial to unlock the full potential of digital transformations? 

Why is behaviour change crucial to fully realise your digital evolution? First of all, consider the business case for implementing a major ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, like SAP S/4HANA. Its success is heavily skewed towards behaviour. Objectives like increasing standardisation, improving data quality, harmonising processes, and leveraging self-service tooling are only achievable if system users exhibit the required behaviours. Even the bolder aspirations – greater agility, closer business partnerships and more insight-driven support functions – are all about evolving behaviours. Secondly, although new technology is often necessary for organisational transitions, on its own it’s rarely sufficient to deliver true transformation. When organisations want to truly transform, and maximise the return on investment, a change in employee ways of working is pivotal.    

Such a shift can be difficult, and it won’t happen overnight. Humans aren’t always rational and we don’t always simply do what is asked. You can provide all the information, facts and logical arguments available, but you still might find them ineffective to encourage employees to work with the newly available system and processes. A pervasive gap between intention and action stems from psychological, neurological, sociological and economic factors. A key to bridging this gap is the use of behavioural science techniques, such as nudges which use behavioral biases to encourage certain decision making. Social norms and other interventions can ease the transition to new working methods, reduce potential resistance and stimulate desired behaviours that leverage the advantages provided by the new system.  Hereby, focus is placed on integrating a human-centered approach in digitising business processes.

How does Deloitte change behaviour in digital transformations? 

Employees must be empowered to incorporate behaviours that align with the desired way of working. When they do, their behaviour change will be the vital catalyst for driving the success of your digital transformation. At Deloitte, we acknowledge that critical role of behaviour change, and we look at transformation holistically. That’s why we developed a unique methodology that combines the latest insights from academic research with our extensive experience managing diverse transformation projects. Working together with each client, we establish performance benchmarks and identify behaviours that are required for a system to achieve its full potential. Additionally, we aim to truly understand each of our client’s unique businesses and the factors that prevent or enable employees from adopting the desired behaviours. We also integrate tailored change interventions and nudges to encourage desired behaviours. To measure change, we establish key behaviour indicators (KBIs) that evaluate the adoption and performance of key behaviours. By doing so, we empower organisations to create a highly conducive environment for supporting and driving long-lasting change.    

Planning to act on your digital ambitions? This is your nudge to reach out and start putting behaviour change at the core, to realise the benefits of your transformation. Visit our website to learn more about our offerings and better understand our organisation.  

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