Digital Transformation—Disruption to the "Old Norm"​

Kiko Liangby Kiko Liang, MSHRM, SHRM-CP

Does the terminologies Artificial Intelligence("Ai"), "Machine Learning," and Business Intelligence ("Bi") sound familiar? If not, it is time to learn about these digital tools as they will change and disrupt the traditional workflows and processes as well as challenge and innovate leaders to think differently.

According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, COVID-19 accelerated the digitalization of customers and supply chain by three to four years and accelerated the speed of digital transformation by seven years (2020). The world has been sent through a time machine seven years into the future.

What does this tell us about the future of work?

The pandemic strips the ability of businesses to adapt to change slowly. Instead, it pushes companies to think differently and create new ways to adapt to the future of work. What are some positive impacts of digital transformation on businesses?

Some of the things that digital transformation can do:

  • Automate manual processes,
  • Reduce unconscious bias in the workflow,
  • Allow faster access to real-time data to make real-time decisions, and
  • Enable businesses to work internationally, provide services globally, and receive payments from any country in the world.

This leads to the second question...

What if businesses do not want to change and stay with the status quo?

Some may argue, companies have survived without these tools all these years; why change now? Manual processes, although slow, still gets the job done. Why make an extra investment if the business can still run? Why disrupt and change something that is currently working?

That's quite true. The organization may still be functional and running; however, what they will lose is competitive advantage and be outpaced by competitors. Furthermore, businesses that do not keep up with the speed of digital transformation will, in fable terms, become the boiling frog (the terminology is used to explain where danger is subtle, yet rapid therefore gone unnoticed or under the radar leading to a potentially detrimental effect).

The nature of work in a digital age requires organizations to work across functions, become more agile, and operate more iteratively (Kane, et al., 2019). At the accelerated speed of change, digital transformation will enable organizations to work smarter and produce results faster.

To compete in the era of digital transformation, organizations should evaluate the business strategies as well leverage digital tool(s) to thrive in the market.


References: Kane, G. C., Nguyen Philips, A., Copulsky, J. R., & Andrus, G. R. (2019). The technology fallacy: How people are the real key to digital transformation. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. McKinsey & Company (2020, October 5). How COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point—and transformed business forever. Retrieved from:

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