Digital Transformation: A Journey

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

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By Pavan Goteti, VP of Innovation and Business Process Management, EMC Insurance Companies

As insurers continue to make substantial investments in digital transformation initiatives, they face the inevitable challenge of rapid and significant changes that can cause disruptions to their people, processes, and the underlying digital technology. However, through adoption of human-centric and data-driven strategies combined with a whole lot of empathy, insurers can turn the challenges of digital transformations into opportunities by effectively leveraging the power of talent and data to their advantage.

As I reflect on EMC Insurance’s very own digital transformation, the following observations come to mind on how to navigate the change effectively and stand out from the competition.

  • Make it a collective effort: A collective and compelling vision that’s aspirational and easy to understand is critical to the success of digital transformations. Leadership at all levels must embrace the collective vision and carry it forward. The collective language and the message across the company must be consistent from boardrooms to breakrooms. While adopting SaaS platforms or commercial-off-the-shelf solutions (COTS), a commitment must be made to reduce customizations and embrace the workflow and out-of-the-box capabilities as much as possible to reduce time to market.
  • Embrace a growth mindset: Challenge the status quo and use critical thinking to find efficiencies and eliminate non-value-added activities. Embrace automation of low-value and repeatable tasks so efforts can be shifted to high-value and high-impact activities. Innovative ideas and solutions emerge when we question established practices and look for ways to improve on them constantly.
  • Don’t leave people behind: For any transformation to be successful, your biggest asset — your people — need to support the effort.

- Give your team members opportunities to play a role and influence change.

- Be transparent about the potential impacts the transformation may have on their day-to-day tasks.

- Communicate frequently and don’t make any promises you can’t keep.

- Provide opportunities to upskill and reskill and give grace as they navigate the disruption and rapid change.

  • Manage through the change: Engage the change management discipline early and throughout the transformation to help with the total employee experience. Ensure service disruptions are minimal during core business hours and be mindful to prioritize critical break fixes and minimize enhancements to legacy platforms to reduce technical debt.
  • Eat the elephant one piece at a time: Adopt iterative and incremental delivery models and product mindset to deliver regular outcomes and solicit continuous feedback. Showcase the capabilities being developed periodically and don’t wait until the end to ask for end-user feedback.
  • Training, training, and more training: Make it your mission to invest time and resources in team member training, ensuring that the experience is productive, rewarding, and fun.
  • Embrace data: Unleash the power of data by embracing AI and machine learning models to help with informed decision-making and reduce risks and improve efficiency and effectiveness of decision making.
  • Focus on relationships: Transformations will disrupt work, consequently testing the strength of your relationships.

- Be prepared to hear feedback and criticism; use the feedback to influence your future decisions.

- Empathize with your stakeholders by stepping into their shoes to better understand their pain points.

- Communicate often and educate stakeholders on the benefits of the transformation and upcoming changes.

Celebrate wins: When the teams hit a milestone (either big or small), make it a big deal. Manage delivery cadences effectively to allow team members to take a break and take PTO to avoid burnout.

Digital transformations are complex endeavors requiring unwavering commitment to continuous change. In the words of David Rogers, former CEO of IBM Global Business Services, “Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination. It is a process of continuous improvement and innovation that requires organizations to be constantly adapting to the changing landscape."  With a growth mindset, patience, resilience, and a little fun along the way, digital transformations can be a source of inspiration, learning, and change the trajectory of the company while positively impacting stakeholders. Don’t fight it; embrace it and be a part of the journey.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023