What’s next for digital transformation?” Find out in this episode of Appfire Presents: The BEST Work Management Show by Appfire. Amelie Winkler joins Kerry O’Shea Gorgone to talk about digital transformation over the last 10 years: what we’ve learned, pitfalls to look out for, and the trends to watch in 2023 and beyond.

About the guest

Amelie Winkler is a product marketing manager for Appfire’s Workflow and Automation apps Power Scripts and CLI. Experienced in B2B tech, SaaS, and developer data platforms, Amelie is passionate about helping companies be more productive and get stuff done.

About the show

The BEST Work Management Show by Appfire features smart leaders sharing their secrets for optimizing business processes and increasing productivity. Get the goods on how they handle everything from setting up workflows to automating processes. Every episode is 10 minutes or less, packed with insights you can use right away to supercharge your team’s productivity.

For your convenience, here is the transcript of this episode:

What’s Next For Digital Transformation?

Kerry:  Today we’re going to address the question what is next for digital transformation. To help us answer that question is Amelie Winkler, product marketing manager for Appfire’s workflow and automation apps. So excited to have Amelie here today. Stick around for 10 minutes of awesome.

Amelie, no pressure, but what’s next for digital transformation? Just get out your crystal ball, take a look, and tell us what’s coming.

Amelie:  It’s a tricky question. Maybe we’ll take a step back before talking about what’s next. Maybe let’s look at some of the things that did or didn’t work for digital transformation so far. 

In general, the term is really a little bit overused. It feels like every business guru has been using ‘digital transformation’ in five of their recent blogs over the last 10 years or so. I think in general people are often using digital transformation if there is any sort of technology involved, but in many cases it’s not just about technology first. 

For example, if you think about maybe quite a few of us have a Peloton bike. You get the bike, you’re super excited and you want to get in shape, but the bike itself isn’t going to get you in shape. Right? You have to still get the work done, you still have to change your mindset, you have to step on it. Just getting the bike doesn’t help. Same as getting the technology doesn’t help, it doesn’t solve your problem.

Kerry:  Right. I got a Mirror for Christmas, like a LuLuLemon Mirror that does the trainers in the mirror and you can see your stats. You are correct; otherwise it is just a mirror if you don’t actually use it.

Amelie:  The Mirror at least you can use. The Peloton bike is just getting dusty.

Kerry:  That is why I don’t have a Peloton bike. So, there’s a mindset shift that has to happen is what you’re saying. Digital transformation starts with the regular kind of transformation.

Amelie:  Yes, exactly. It’s not just the technology, but the people. That is every individual, so making the shift from a cultural and organizational change, but also from a leadership and management level. If you don’t have that kind of top support, then it’s really hard for the individuals to implement that as well. 

I guess what comes with that as well is just having that vision of where you want to go, having a goal that you’re working toward and having clear objectives and measuring them along the way. Having nice fluffy objectives is also not going to get you there.

Kerry:  What kinds of things are we talking about, when people say digital transformation, what things would you slot in under that category?

Amelie:  In many ways, it kind of starts with automating business processes. Using some technology to help with your everyday automations, so building automations for your most repetitive tasks that are occurring in your business. Then also using technology to improve the collaboration within the organization. 

I think one of the really big ones, which is why the topic was hyped so much, is also the customer experience. Digital transformation often goes hand in hand with bringing that customer experience to a more digital level from a just physical place.

Kerry:  You’re talking partially tech stack, but there’s more to it, there’s processes that are happening without the benefit of certain apps or certain features. Even in native Jira, you have that and there’s some stuff you want to do. There’s maybe some processes taking place that you’ve never considered automating. What do you in the step before transformation, I guess, what is that? Introspection?

Amelie:  You’re right, introspection. Really understanding where your issues lie at the moment, what you do want to achieve, what your problems are, and then thinking about the people that are involved. Then the last step is the technology that you apply to solving those problems, the apps that you get, the software that you get. 

You don’t want to start with getting all the tech stack that you read about online and then have this massive tech stack, you’re going to accumulate tech depth, and then you have more issues than before. 

Kerry:  What are you seeing now in the way of trends? There’s been different things. For a while, everyone wanted to go Agile. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. Maybe they did it the right way, maybe they didn’t. A lot of people did talk about automation, but they didn’t necessarily take time, like we’re talking about, to revisit the processes that were happening, so things didn’t go great. What are some lessons that we can take from digital transformation done right or done wrong so far?

Amelie:  That’s a really good question. I think in general what we can say went wrong so far probably is that according to several reviews, I think the most recent one was from Deloitte, most of the organizations, around 70% of the organizations didn’t really measure any expected revenue increase that they wanted to achieve with the digital transformation. 

That comes back to what I said about if you don’t have the KPIs, if you don’t measure what your success means, how are you then going to be able to say it was successful? How can you even measure if your investment was worth it? I think that’s a really big one because digital transformation does come with this data-first mindset. If you’re using the data well, then you can apply it for good.

Kerry:  Apply it for good, as opposed to apply it for evil. I like it. What you’re saying is so important, though. Identifying the key performance indicators in the first place that are going to guide your transformation is so important, and I feel like that’s a step that sometimes gets glossed over. 

Part of it depends on what you value. It might be productivity. Because this show is all about productivity, obviously we’re interested in that. But there’s also something to be said for the worker experience and the people on your team, because doing more creative, satisfying work is ultimately going to help you with retention, reduce employee turnover, that kind of stuff. You might even end up with fewer support tickets. 

There are just so many benefits to getting things in order to digital transformation, but first you have to get your key performance indicators in line. How do you do that? Are you thinking primarily about productivity, are you thinking about user and worker experience, or is it all rolled up together?

Amelie:  I think the first thing is really taking a step back and looking at how your business processes are lined up at the moment, and then seeing maybe where the cases are where you could optimize those. Where is your customer experience at the moment and how could you optimize that? Taking stock of everything that there is at the moment and then thinking about how you could use technology to make it better.

Kerry:  What are some future things, what have you noticed as far as trends in digital transformation, what’s coming next, and what should we watch out for? There’s exciting things and then there’s scary things, so let’s cover both.

Amelie:  Sure. One thing which is also on everyone’s mind for the last few years already is AI and machine learning, of course. Some of that is a bit overhyped, but then we see things like ChatGPT coming alive. People are at the same time outraged and excited and delighted, everyone has their own opinions. In the end, I think for AI, it’s always important to say that it will not just come and take all of our jobs, it’s not that evil, but it can really enhance people, it can help you if you bring it together. 

Like ChatGPT. We spoke about this before, Kerry. It’s not going to take your or my job. You can use it to get started more easily, but it’s not going to do the show for us. 

Kerry:  It will not do the show for us. It can give us questions, I guess, or topics to consider and stuff like that, but it’s only ever a starting point.

Amelie:  Exactly.

Kerry:  I feel like any of the technology we’ve touched on or talked about in relation to digital transformation starts with you and your mindset, getting your processes in order, having your KPIs selected, and it comes down to your whole operation. Garbage in, garbage out. Right? If you don’t know what you’re doing, and you put it through an app, it’s not going to come out any better. 

Amelie:  Yes. I think one other very common trend we see is the move towards cloud with any business services and operations, providing that real on-demand service, more on the self-service perspective. With that, comes this everything as a service. More and more things are becoming serviced, so I think that’s also one thing to watch out, how everything as a service can really help organizations to become more scalable and deliver more results in a shorter time.

Kerry:  There’s so much there, because of course Atlassian is having their end of life for their server apps, so a bunch of people are looking to migrate and change things up. It’s going to be an exciting year. If you need more information about the server end of life for Atlassian, you can find it at Atlassian, but also at Appfire we have an FAQ in the works for you about that. 

Amelie, thanks for stopping by to talk about digital transformation. I’m excited. I want to transform some stuff. Just don’t tell my boss. I’ll get started on that on my own. 

Amelie:  Thanks for having me.

Kerry:  If you’d like more episodes of The Best Work Management Show by Appfire, you can find them at Hub.Appfire.com. To learn about any of our fantastic apps that you might put in your tech stack, Appfire.com/solutions. I’ll talk with you next time.

Last updated: 2023-03-21

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