AWS Training and Certification Blog

The future of digital transformation is your people

An IDG report stated that 91% of surveyed organizations have adopted or have plans to adopt a digital-first business strategy. Statistics like this capture the weight of the movement toward cloud and digital transformation. While there’s no one way to do it, adopting cloud technologies is a key component for many organizations. The cloud can impact an organization’s operations, products, and services, and it changes the way their people work.

Every organization is different, and because the capabilities of cloud are so versatile, one of the most challenging aspects of any digital transformation can be to define and measure success. The cloud has the potential to impact all roles, departments, and lines of business in different ways. There isn’t a single KPI that will fit across all of them. Some organizations will lean into metrics that are defined by business goals, targets, and KPIs. But, in our experience, successful digital transformation isn’t just about the success of the technology. It’s about people and culture.

We’ve found it valuable to focus on measuring behaviors that recognize the cloud-first thinkers who try new things without fear of failing and push the boundaries of innovation. By instilling this culture of experimentation, the organization will continually transform itself, even as business priorities and KPIs shift over time.

When business leaders are considering steering their organization toward a digital-first business strategy, what can they do to ensure the transformation is successful, impactful, and sustainable? Focus on creating a culture of learning and experimentation.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How should our people be using the cloud?
  • How will it impact each individual and their role?
  • What is the timeline to build our people’s cloud fluency?
  • How will we know we have achieved a successful cultural transformation?

Measure experimentation, not just outcomes

Technology can have widespread impact across the business but is often measured in traditional business KPIs. For example, you might see cost savings from moving to the cloud from a legacy on-premises infrastructure. Or, a team that’s trained on the cloud might achieve quicker deployment cycles or use fewer resources, because they can now build more efficiently.

But there’s an opportunity to look at measuring the impact of digital transformation differently and in a way that provides more meaningful, long-tail value: your people’s capability to innovate. Organizations undergoing transformations should consider whether their traditional benchmarking still empowers staff to innovate freely.

Global credit-risk-management company, Verisk, recognized that the impact of the cloud goes beyond technical teams and should be far reaching to be impactful. “We are a business that invests in our employees and their futures. It could also help us with specific innovations that would never come from the top down. What if that person’s knowledge of the cloud allowed them to cast a lens on the experience of the sales tools, then come up with an innovation or idea that helps productivity? The impact of that would be felt by salespeople all over the business,” said Robert Dorn, director of strategic technology, Verisk.

A key aspect of incentivizing innovative behavior is the encouragement to persevere in spite of failure. When people are learning something new, they need freedom to sometimes get it wrong. Failure isn’t traditionally popular in business, but it truly can be the greatest teacher. With cloud technology at their fingertips, people are also now able to fail fast with minimal impact.

When you incentivize and measure people exhibiting the right innovative behaviors, rather than strictly on the traditional KPI outcomes, you give permission to push through nine failed attempts to reach the tenth, successful one. Those ten attempts serve to make the idea, the innovation, and the person stronger and can lead to a competitive business edge in more ways than one. Your people are primed to tackle new ideas and succeed with innovation, even if it doesn’t work the first time around. After all, they own this—it’s their transformation.

Educate your staff so they are part of your transformation

Another element to consider in measuring the success of digital transformation is the penetration of cloud education and staff’s engagement with cloud technology. Respondents of an Aberdeen study agreed: 95% of respondents reported it’s important or extremely important that the workforce is skilled in cloud capabilities for successful digital transformations.

How you build and retain talent can also be an interesting benchmark for measuring the success of the cultural side of a transformation. Investing in your staff’s cloud fluency and ongoing learning leads to better understanding of what digital transformation means to their role, their team, and the organization as a whole. This helps them appreciate their unique role in, and ability to impact, the business’ success through ongoing learning and experimentation.

Absa is one of Africa’s largest financial services institutions. Their AWS Skills Guild, Cloud Incubator, has already given thousands of their employees the opportunity to learn about the cloud as part of an ambitious and far-reaching cloud enablement program. The Absa team worked hard from the top down, including vocal support from senior leadership, to build excitement around the potential of the cloud, both for the individual and for the organization. In the Cloud Incubator launch event video, CIO Ebrahim Samodien spoke about the importance of learning and bringing everyone along on the cloud transformation journey, saying, “We want to create more opportunities for the teams to be part of that journey. And that all starts with learning. We need to all understand, what is cloud? Why do we want to do cloud? What can it do for us?”

The same Aberdeen study found that well-trained organizations had a 17.4% higher employee retention rate and a 19.3% higher employee tenure compared to average organizations. When people understand why they should be learning and have the tools and permission to continuously improve their knowledge, they fuel faster growth—often in new, exciting directions, using all the new tools at their disposal.

Invest in a culture of continuous learning

If 2022 is going to be the year your organization launches into a new digital-first era, consider that a successful, impactful, and sustainable transformation relies on how the business invests in and supports its people to pursue their own cloud-first futures.

An AWS Skills Guild can help you build cloud fluency across the entire organization and help your staff understand what the cloud can do and how it can make an impact on their own project, department, or function. It also gives them permission to try. This kind of cultural change can spark innovation from all areas of the business. When people are empowered to be part of, and succeed in, the change.

Learn more about AWS Skills Guild.