Hot topics


The digital transformation blueprint

3 Apr 2018 by  Dr. John Chan

Everywhere you look, it’s clear that our society is undergoing a digital transformation. Whether it is asking Google to order tonight’s dinner, using our phone to pay for a meal, or networking with colleagues around the world, we are living in a time of significant technological change and with it, organisations are having to adapt to this environment. 

While the business environment is constantly changing, never has the speed of change been so fast-paced and the effects so widely felt. As these changes rapidly unfold, organisations must transform their people and business to adapt to the new digital environment. Even the most traditional industries (e.g., farming, energy, healthcare) are being impacted by technological advancements, and with the speed of progress we are currently witnessing, organisations can’t delay implementing changes or, they risk becoming obsolete. 

In fact, Ernst & Young’s 2016 paper, Capitalising on the Digital Challenge reports that in the next 20 years, almost half of all occupations in advanced economies are at risk of being automated. With customers and employees connecting via digital channels 24/7 from around the world, digital products and solutions are no longer desirable – but essential. 

The Government is also acutely aware of the importance of moving to a more innovative, digitised workforce. The Australia 2030 Report states that McKinsey and Company calculated that digitisation could contribute between $140 billion and $250 billion to Australia’s GDP by 2025. However, the report warns that we are already falling behind some of the world’s largest economies who are already investing heavily in digitisations more traditional industries.

As an organisation existing in this time of rapid change, it can be overwhelming to know where to start in beginning a process of digital transformation. So how can you begin to plan for the digital future, assess your organisation’s capabilities to thrive in a digital environment, and to create a culture that supports digital advancements? 

Aon works with organisations around the world to help manage digital transformations. While each organisation is unique, there are 5 key steps for any successful journey:

  1. Define and prioritise the digital transformation – ensure leadership support and communicate the “why?”
  2. Create/update your frameworks to include the digital environment – this will set the guidelines of what capabilities the organisation needs to succeed.
  3. Assess and know your people’s capabilities – know who are digitally ready now and what skills are needed to bring others into the digital environment.
  4. Re-evaluate your recruitment process to include digital competencies for all roles – begin selecting for capabilities needed for tomorrow’s roles.
  5. Define the digital culture and how employees will work with each other and with customers – don’t be afraid to fail and learn quickly.

A digital transformation is more than changing a few processes or technologies. A true digital transformation is about re-thinking how the organisation works within itself and how it interacts within their ecosystem of customers, vendors, stakeholder, and employees. 

One key action to take is for organisations to consider the competency and leadership frameworks with which they employ, assess and reward their employees. Competencies generally look at the skills, knowledge and attitudes that are required for employees to do their jobs successfully, and to allow your company to succeed. While these frameworks may not require a full overhaul, it is likely that adjustments will need to be made to account for this new digital reality. 

Once your competencies have been updated to reflect the digital world, then comes time to assess your people to determine their suitability for driving the future success of your organisation. When considering the digital readiness of your people, you may choose to look at:

  • digital mindedness – by assessing the aspects of your employees’ personalities, their individual motivations, and aspects of their cognition – such as learning agility. This will help you to predict how successful any digital training may be, and where you might need to make organisational changes or apply different hiring approaches. 
  • behaviour and skills – by assessing your employees’ developed repertoire of skills, especially as it is applied to digital tasks or systems. This will also allow you to see how much training is required, and any gaps in your employee skillsets.

Evaluating who has the flexibility to move ahead with your organisation can be a confronting exercise. This is where Aon can help. Assisting your company to find gaps and move your employees into the digital workforce, we can help your organisation start to take action. 

The technological advances that are facing our companies and our economy as a whole are exciting for those who can seize the opportunity. As we glimpse into this bright future, is it time for your organisation to transform into the digital environment, and to begin implementing some changes? While there is not a magical overnight solution, the time is right to begin adapting businesses and organisational cultures to this new digital reality. 

Start a conversation with us 

To find out more about how Aon Hewitt can help your organisation to assess and refine your digital capabilities, please contact us.

Dr. John Chan

John is an organisational psychologist with over 15 years of experience in talent management supporting a wide range of human capital initiatives for local and MNC organisations. He is based in Sydney and is a frequent speaker on HR topics.

Get in touch
Denise Tzavaras