Digital transformation (DX) is a massive undertaking for any organization, and companies handle the formidable challenge of change at vastly different speeds. On today’s global stage, there’s a recognized need for digital transformation to remain relevant in a fast-changing world, and countries are stepping-up to the plate to race toward that digital future. With leaders like the US and EU closing-in on the finish line with ambitious DX goals, one country that has maintained its comfortably ponderous pace toward DX is Canada.
In our 2019 survey of senior executives from companies around the world, Wipro found that while Canadian organizations aren’t necessarily the slowest-moving, they are among the most cautious, with the longest transformation cycles of any nation. They’re also least likely to place disruption at the forefront of their digital shift goals.
What could be driving Canada’s “proceed with caution” approach to DX? We examined our survey results and found two key factors hindering the country’s path to becoming a major global player.
Canada’s reservation is understandable; consider the rapid rate of change in the market. As technology evolves, it shifts the goalposts on digital transformation. Today, businesses may have a clear view of the solutions they need, but in six months all of that’s likely to change. The changes in technology, processes and expectations will push organizations to relook at transformation initiatives. When technology can shift at any moment, why be so quick to forge ahead and risk committing to the wrong course?
Scope and budget might also be contributing to the slow digitalization of Canadian businesses. Our study shows Canadian companies are the most likely to cite “modernizing legacy information technology” as a primary driver of digital transformation.
Moving away from legacy architecture toward more agile technology is a feat in itself. Once teams settle on replacing a certain software — no matter how cumbersome it is — getting the entire company on board for the transition can be difficult. Using outdated legacy technology leads to high operational costs, meaning leaders must determine where to tighten budgets to be able to make the necessary changes. Although increasing revenue is a primary goal, it’s not always clear to businesses whether they can afford to increase their efficiency.
Readying Employees for Change
When just increasing efficiencies becomes an expensive initiative, a major technology upheaval might seem insurmountable.
Canadian companies are facing this challenge. New leaders are coming to Canadian companies with a desire to create change, but according to our survey, these companies are finding it difficult to recruit the talent needed to implement successful digital transformations. Another key factor is Canada’s aging workforce. Companies may struggle to get employees onboard with DX simply because the technical skills needed are not innate, but rather something that could take time and resources to foster. Investing more on the people side of the issue could help companies set (and act on) more ambitious goals and timelines.
Many of Wipro’s Canadian clients ask, “What are the first steps toward these changes? How do I even start?” The answer involves meaningful communication with employees.
It’s often difficult to secure employee buy-in and coordinate to make significant changes work. Our most successful partners start by shifting everyone’s mindset, not just corporate’s. Leaders at these companies should work to spark excitement across their organizations. At every step of the way, it’s critical they prove that changes will be valuable to the health of the business and its people.
With most of the world under lockdown due to COVID-19, some organizations are better prepared to manage, helping customers or enabling employees to work remotely while ensuring productivity or a shift to the digital aspect of their businesses.
For example, retailers who had already focused on consumers’ digital experience in omni channels are able to serve their customers better. New-age digital banks or neo banks have performed better compared to their larger counterparts in helping customers. Start-ups with cloud-enabled workplaces were able to switch to remote working in a matter of hours compared to weeks for some of the other organizations without compromising productivity or other aspects. Organizations would have to review their pre-pandemic roadmaps, blueprints and strategy and make radical changes, because the “new normal” will not be the same as before. It will not be about going back to the way things were.
There is definite intent among the Canadian organizations to change. However, in many cases it’s over-dependence on the existing businesses processes, fear of failure due to rapidly changing technology landscape, and inertia among people to adopt new ways of working that make it difficult to take a bold step toward the future. Unless the status quo is challenged from within, especially in trying times like these, Canadian organizations will find it challenging to lead in the digital race and transform themselves to face an uncertain and scary future head-on.
Looking to help your organization make a lasting change? Connect with Wipro to learn how to take the first steps toward a better future.