Digital Transformation in Action

Imagine you’re preparing for a long business flight. As you’re finalizing your online booking, an option to preselect your meal pops up on your screen. You decide to take that option and save time by selecting the baked chicken meal.

An hour into your flight, the attendants start taking passengers’ orders. You’re not worried, because you already ordered your meal. However, after the attendants have handed out meals to the passengers around you, you still don’t have your food. In fact, the passenger next to you has the same baked chicken meal you ordered.

You’re confused. Wasn’t the preordering supposed to ensure that you received what you wanted? Finally, with your stomach grumbling, you ask a flight attendant about your meal. He tells you he saw you had ordered online, but they didn’t have enough for you once they had taken all the other orders. The attendant seems to be embarrassed and powerless to help you further, and you feel frustrated and hungry.

Now, imagine you’ve brought your car to the dealership for a grinding sound. You’re reluctant, because you know that the dealership will be more expensive than your local repair shop, but you go anyway, hoping they will be able to diagnose and fix the problem faster. The dealership uses a rideshare service to drop you off at work. A few hours later, you receive a text from the dealership with confirmation that the repair was successful and a link to a full diagnostic recap. A few minutes later, you receive another text that gives you a “yes” or “no” option for a rideshare to return you to the dealership. You select “yes” and receive a text saying that a car is on its way.

You’re pleasantly surprised at the dealership’s efficiency and excellent customer service. Your reluctance to use the more expensive option is overcome by the skill at which the dealership’s employees used technology. In spite of the repair costs, you feel that you made the right choice; you received a much better experience than you expected to.
The results of both of these scenarios are due to new technology and the successful — or unsuccessful — adoption of that technology. In other words, they’re due to digital transformation.

Getting Digital Transformation Right

Digital transformation (DT) is happening all over the world and all around us, every day. International companies that seek to adapt and excel in the ever-changing digital landscape are looking for ways to hit the moving target of continual change. There is a lot at stake when it comes to digital transformation, including customer satisfaction, employee retention and profit growth. How can employers do it right?

According to the Harvard Business Review, digital transformation failure rates range from 66% to 84%. Digital transformation strategy is often focused on technology, but this emphasis can cause organizations to miss a key component to success. Employees might be struggling to keep up or reluctant to adopt the changes DT brings, or they might not have the tools or training they need to make everything run seamlessly.

When organizations initiate digital transformation efforts, they need a clear goal and plan, a leader who champions that plan, and buy-in from employees. Employees may see their jobs changing and wonder if they are being replaced and whether they are needed anymore. They might feel uncomfortable with — and reluctant to accept — changes. Because digital transformation often streamlines processes, employees need more than adaptability; they need to feel emotionally connected to the company and confident that the role they play is important. This is true for existing employees, who are in the midst of your DT, but it’s also true for future employees, most of whom come with experience and existing skill sets that may soon be obsolete.

Onboarding for Digital Transformation: 3 Cs

Effective onboarding will prepare employees mentally and emotionally, educate and train them on the values of the company, and gain their buy-in through a deeper connection to the organization. There’s no better time to accomplish these goals than during onboarding, a time when employees’ time and attention are focused on learning. By reinventing your onboarding, you can improve employees’ connection to the organization’s vision and values as well as their adoption of digital transformation.

However, current onboarding programs often overwhelm and confuse new employees. What organizations need is a comprehensive, thoughtful and thorough onboarding process. And, since onboarding is a process, not an event, it begins with what happens before the employee shows up on the first day and keeps going long after he or she is integrated and proficient.

When onboarding focuses on the following three outcomes, companies will turn new employees into champions who influence the DT adoption process.


Start early and create connection with pre-boarding that helps new employees understand the organization’s vision and become excited about their new experience. Connect new hires to the company through social media or a simple email from a business leader. This easy initial step begins the process of connecting and fostering early buy-in to future changes.

Pre-boarding primes new employees and shows them how they are an important part of the organization. Research shows that employees are most likely to leave a new job within the first three to six months. Pre-boarding is a great way for new hires to feel that they’ve made the right decision and are in the right place.


Once employees show up and their onboarding begins, cultivate their confidence by giving them a personalized path (while still building their connection with the organization). Give them tools that support them and a chance to share what they know in an early diagnostic exercise. Motivate them to learn the ropes of the company and their job with an onboarding hub that tracks their progress through core competencies, provides a searchable on-demand learning toolkit and offers a cloud-based action planner to keep them going.


Kickstart employee contribution by providing continuous learning beyond onboarding. Providing opportunities for employees to contribute early on builds upon the confidence and connection they’ve already built. This continuous learning might happen through a one-stop hub that offers a personalized learning path, virtual coaching and searchable learning assets that are optimized for the workflow. Reskilling experienced employees will help ensure that they are ready for digital transformation.

When employees feel connected, are confident and have opportunities for continuous learning, they more easily adopt digital transformation, and the company is able to create a more profitable and efficient business. Technology makes it easier to serve customers and, when employee adoption and proficiency is at its peak, employees feel empowered to do their best work. This approach will inspire repeat customers, improve employee confidence and morale, and boost the bottom line — a winning combination.