Why Is The Next Wave Of Digital Transformation Aimed At Those Without Desks?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - digital transformation

There’s a black hole in digital transformation. The technology space race has propelled a new era for those of us who work at desks. But around an estimated 80% of the world’s workforce is “deskless” — and many have been left behind.

Instead of smart apps, many of the world’s 2.7 billion deskless workers contend with pen-and-paper, spreadsheets or clunky technology tools that are often ill-suited to the dynamic demands of frontline work. In a survey of more than 1,500 deskless workers, 60% report being unsatisfied with, or believe there is room for expansion in, the technology they use for work. It can slow them down and make them less engaged and less adaptable.

Business guru Peter Drucker famously said, “The objective of a business is to create a customer.” Six decades after Drucker penned that sentence, a number of enormously successful CEOs have taken Drucker’s credo to the maximum, among them Jeff Bezos of Amazon (who has driven his firm to focus on “customer obsession” as opposed to “competitor obsession”) and Richard Branson (whose many Virgin companies have climbed in industries known for poor service). Those and other CEOs believe that making customers and keeping them happy is at the centre of their success.

Digital Transformation Isn’t Putting Customers First

Sadly, digital transformation efforts at companies across the globe often aren’t putting customers at the centre of their endeavours. Instead, new technologies are being utilised in order to create operational efficiencies to reduce costs.

While that’s important, too often the price companies pay for this narrow focus is exasperated customers struggling with poorly designed experiences and inconsistent and inauthentic touch points with the brand.

is means that to reach online shoppers, marketing needs to switch from traditional marketing to digital marketing.

However, as we said in the first paragraph of this article, digital skills are reportedly lacking in South Africa. This means that a massive push needs to happen in terms of skills development in digital marketing.

DSM Digital School of Marketing - digital transformation

Focus On The Frontline

The irony is that we are dependent on deskless workers like never before. Deskless workers have driven business continuity throughout the Covid 19 pandemic by:

  • Managing infection control and keeping buildings clean,
  • Delivering essential supplies, and
  • Providing food.

Indeed, the grocery, delivery and cleaning industries are all experiencing increasing demand. Frontline workers are part of the engine of commercial operations, influencing customer experience, efficiency, safety and quality — all of which make a contribution to overall revenue growth.

The next wave of digital transformation must address technology for these workers. In a survey of over 1 500 deskless workers, about 70% report believing they could perform to a higher standard if they had better technology.

Technology is constantly about doing more with less, however that combination is effective only if you pair technology with the correct human skills. Just as technological disruption has often led to automation as well as the elimination of outdated jobs, it has also always produced new jobs.

This is why innovation is usually described as creative destruction. However the creative aspect of innovation is entirely dependent on individuals. If we are able to leverage human adaptability to reskill as well as upskill our workforce, then we can simultaneously augment humans and technology.

It’s really quite simple: the most brilliant innovation is irrelevant if we are not skilled enough to use it, and even the most impressive human minds will become less useful if they don’t team up with tech. The main implication is that when leaders think about investing in technology, they should first think about investing in the people who can make that technology useful.

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