The essential first step in digital transformation is to change employee mindsets and company culture
Today, more and more companies are starting to push forward with digital transformation by utilizing technologies such as IoT, cloud, big data analysis, and AI to improve business processes and create new business models. However, results cannot be gained just by simply implementing digital technology. One key ingredient is for employees to become united in learning the skills to make full use of digital technology, and change the way business is conducted. In most cases, a fundamental change in thinking is required to achieve this. Here, we would like to present some key points on work style innovation discussed in the panel discussion at “Fujitsu World Tour Asia Conference 2017 in Bangkok,” which was held in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2017.
* The theme of the panel discussion is “Work style innovation. Are we ready?” The moderator is Mr. Jarit Sidhu, the Country Head of Operation at IDC Thailand. Panelists are Dr. John Millar, Chief Strategic Development Officer of Ananda Development PLC, a major developer; Mr. Taveesuk Sayasilapee, Vice President of the Strategic Information Technology Department of PTT Public Company; Ms. Ittaya Sirivasukarn, CEO of INSEE Digital, an IT subsidiary of Siam City Cement Group; and Mr. Takahiro Nemoto, Senior Managing Consultant of the Manufacturing Industry Consulting Group of Fujitsu Research Institute.
For companies to continue to succeed and grow, they must at times spark innovation and create new value for their customers. As markets and customers change, companies must also change their business model and organizational structure in order to survive. Dr. Millar of Ananda points out that 40% of companies that were listed as Fortune 500 companies in 2000 no longer exist today, stressing the importance of innovation. Mr. Taveesuk of PTT also explains, “We need to shift gears towards the future by creating new businesses and diversify.”
The key for cultivating innovation and pushing digital transformation forward is understanding where and how to apply and utilize digital technology. This is where “people” are crucial. Even as technology improves, if there is no one with the skills to create new business models, innovation cannot be cultivated. Mr. Taveesuk of PTT raises the issues of strong leadership, company culture reform, and employee training. The employees themselves must learn to be proactive in pursuing new challenges. He explains that at PTT, in order to drive this forward, “We are implementing a ‘Digital Transformation Program’ for instilling in each and every employee new innovative ways of thinking in order to further our business.”
Ms. Ittaya of INSEE, who is also pushing forward with digital transformation in factories, explains the necessity for changing the organization and training personnel. “We created a clear agenda, implemented a one-year trial, and through repeated practice, we began to understand what it means to work with digital technology as a corporate group.”
Dr. Millar of Ananda points out the importance of making sure new ideas aren’t rejected offhand by colleagues, and to not punish mistakes. Innovation cannot be cultivated if employees fear mistakes.
Evaluation of work and progress, and a platform for fast, appropriate mutual understanding are also important
In order to reform work styles while being conscious of cultivating innovation, it is necessary to change the way work and performance are evaluated, in addition to company rules and employee mindsets. One example is remote network access for telecommuting, and how to manage work hours and progress in that system.
A communication platform for facilitating information sharing among team members is also necessary. For example, many Japanese companies create innovation communities or working groups. These groups often consist of members from different departments for each project, so a thorough method of information sharing is crucial. They require common communication and file sharing software to increase productivity in meetings and in work. For example, Fujitsu provides its 16,000 employees around the world with a global communication platform.
From the perspective of changing company culture, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and other robot systems are effective. In work environments such as factories and warehouses, robots can take the place of people to perform tasks, or they can cooperate with people to support them in their tasks. It is also common to apply RPA in situations where computers can automatically perform clerical tasks by memorizing a series of tasks.
Workplace efficiency can be improved using these methods. This opens up time for engaging in new enterprises and having discussions, leading to further innovation.
It is crucial not only to implement these tools, but to create an environment in which these tools can be used effectively to cultivate innovation, and to design an action plan based on that vision. Depending on the situation, in addition to improving on these visions and action plans through workshops, it can also be effective to let employees and partners absorb these elements. By doing this, it increases the engagement mindset that employees have towards the company, and they become more committed, bringing in partners from the outside to create new value and inspire new possibilities.
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