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The human side of digital transformation: Engaging and empowering employees

With the digital revolution in full effect, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) slowly integrating into every facet of the economy, it is important to remember the often-overlooked human aspect of digital transformation.

  • AUTHOR|Neil Sutch
  • DATE|20 Jun 2023
  • READ TIME|5 min read

Updates to technology, especially those with AI, have the power to transform businesses when implemented correctly. A recent report showed that 25% of companies are turning to AI to address labour shortages.

What’s more, 77% participants in that same study reported concern over losing their job to AI within the next year. Businesses that choose to adopt AI technology face many challenges, and digital spaces still require human nuance.

If engaged and empowered with these technologies, employees can become more productive and leverage their time better. This heightens the importance of addressing cultural and organisational change in tandem with technology adoption.

This article will dive into the challenges your business might face during transformation and how you can empower yourself and your employees to navigate these obstacles.

Challenge 1 – Unclear expectations

Many businesses are in the process of digital transformation and several employees fear their role may be lost to new technology – especially AI.

As an employee, it can be frustrating and difficult to work when the security of your job is uncertain, and this is compounded when job expectations are unclear.

To reap the benefits of digital transformation, your business and its managers will need to make it clear to employees how operations will change and what is to be expected from them.

Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind: Change is difficult, and it can be helpful to treat employees like customers. You will need to think about their wants and needs and how these can be supported by digital updates.

In other words, you will need to show the value these changes will have on their work life.

Challenge 2 – New technology still has its limits

Although there are many benefits to integrating new technology into your business, it is still crucial to understand its limits. A great example of this is customer service bots.

These virtual assistants can certainly free up time by answering simple inquiries and reducing customer wait time by responding to questions received after hours. Unfortunately, these virtual assistants can make mistakes, fail to properly answer inquiries, and lack the interpersonal capabilities to connect with consumers.

Humans are prone to errors as well; however, they can continue to problem-solve and empathise until a solution is identified. These areas of strengths and weaknesses are where technology and humans can find synergy.

Employees can be empowered by their digital assets by identifying the limits, strengths, and weaknesses of the technology they use, as well as their own. Then, they can leverage their digital strengths to supplement their weaknesses and vice versa. Employees will need to work at a design level and create the architecture, algorithms for AI to operate effectively.

What’s more, knowing its limits will ensure employees can streamline their workflows which can reduce mistakes and improve productivity. During this process, you will need to also consider the various employee personality types. What works for one person, does not always work for everyone else.

Challenge 3 – The need to upskill and educate

You will also need to consider the learning curve and required training that comes with the implementation of new software and hardware.

Unfortunately, many learning and development leaders understand the expense employee training can have on a business, so it is paramount to create a learning system that supports employee needs. Costs will vary from business to business based on size, operations, the rigour of training needed, and more.

Elm Learning noted that, according to Training Magazine’s 2021 Training Industry Report, the average company in the U.S. spent $1,071 per employee in 2021 on training costs.

Remember, training is an investment in staff, and there are great benefits that can be reaped once staff are trained and confident in their roles, along with the resources at their disposal.

Studies have reported increased productivity/performance, reduced waste, improved morale, internal promotion, and reduced need for supervision as some of the benefits. To empower employees, you will need to investigate their deficits, concerns, and interests.

These components can be used to create educational materials that are powerful, engaging, and effective.


The digital age is upon us and it is time to embrace its benefits, identify its weak points, and put humans at the forefront of tech adaptation and adoption. This will ensure you and your staff are empowered and able to find high value roles and excel.

At Org, our more human approach is to listen, let people air concerns and understand to establish where resistance may be encountered. We proactively assemble the narrative for change and develop a plan for upskilling that will create a compelling vision for people. This will need to be underpinned with a cohesive communication strategy and plan.

Despite the several challenges, there are also numerous strategies to overcome them and many advantages of embracing a people-centric approach to your digital transformation.


Neil is Managing Partner for Technology at Org, where he helps organisations solve business challenges through strategic digital transformation projects. With decades of in-depth knowledge in strategy and operations, Neil’s experience spans many industries. He builds specific digital practices on a global scale, for the needs of a broad customers base with varying business challenges.


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