Assuaging Fears Over Digital Transformation

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Last week, an article for the Irish Tech News examined some of the negative views that surround digital transformation and why they needed to be addressed. Pointing out the trend in Ireland that follows the global move towards embracing innovative new technology through company change or partnerships with third parties, the article highlighted the inevitable shift towards digital transformation that the IDC estimate will result in $2 trillion annual spending on transformation projects by 2020. The benefits of this process were not refuted; however, to pretend there were no concerns associated with it would be wrong.

The main problem that was raised was the feeling of threat that some employees may feel over the future of their jobs when faced with a digital replacement that can do it better, faster or more efficiently. A valid concern, and one that is applicable in any industrial or technological revolution. Despite this worry, companies and employees should embrace the opportunity for menial or labour intensive tasks to be taken over by machines. Instead of the threat of losing jobs, there should be a focus on how the people freed up from the addition of the new technology can be retrained or reassigned to projects that will benefit the company in other ways by expanding the business or improving areas such as customer service. Companies must look to continuously improve in order to remain competitive so freeing up people to aid in this should be viewed as a benefit and communicated to employees as such.

After concerns over the security of employee jobs, one worry that was noted as often being raised was that of digital security when moving sensitive information to new technology. There have been many instances of hackers stealing data for extortion or blackmail and there have been many instances where devices have been found to have flaws that are exploited for malicious purposes. These fears could perhaps be allayed with education on the security benefits that new technology such as blockchain promises. The bitcoin blockchain network for example, has never been hacked – despite the incentive to do so. In addition to blockchain, employing digital transformation to actually improve security could be possible by using open-source code which would allow anyone to assess the security of a system – with bounties offered to people who find flaws in it.  This could also alleviate fears that were reported on ‘shadow IT’, where staff work with personal devices that may not be secured, leading to problems of security threats for the members of the IT staff.

Considering this, it could be viewed that most of the concern about digital transformation is unfounded and may be due to misinformation or a lack of knowledge of job security. These issues are easy to overcome through improved communication and education. Communication between workers and managers in a company could stifle fears over job losses; whereas more information for IT staff could lead to identifying all the improvements digital transformation could bring. It is particularly important to get all staff on board with changes; as has been noted on numerous occasions: happy workers are better workers. The greatest benefit to a company will be experienced with all staff working in concert to implement the processes that will simultaneously improve speed, reduce costs, improve security, free up manpower and improve efficiency all round.