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Interview: Workday explains the five 'digital deadlocks' of DX

05 Dec 2019

A recent study from IDC and Workday, titled Beyond the State of Dysfunction: Unleashing the Potential of Digital Transformation, highlighted common barriers that Asia Pacific enterprises faces as they progress through their digital transformation journey.

Because many organisations have no roadmap to guide them, they are facing a more difficult journey than they should – and it’s down to a multitude of challenges, called ‘digital deadlocks’.

Off the back of the study, we spoke to Workday Australia and New Zealand vice president Stephen Jack and Workday’s professional services APJ regional vice president Tom Shields to zoom in closer on what’s going on with digital transformation (DX).

Could you explain a bit about Workday’s operations?

Stephen Jack: Founded in 2005, Workday delivers human capital management, financial management, and analytics applications designed for the world's largest companies, educational institutions, and government agencies.

We provide our customers highly adaptable, accessible and reliable applications to manage critical business functions that enable them to optimise their financial and human capital resources.

We work with global customers such as General Electric, Siemens, Unilever, Amazon and Netflix, as well as A/NZ customers including Aurecon, Latitude Financial, Transurban and Opteon.

For example, Opteon wanted easier access to its data. It selected Workday for HCM and financials as part of a business and cultural transformation that was aimed at placing data at the fingertips of its leaders.

Workday will uplift systems, processes, and staff capability within Finance, Payroll and HR and have tangible benefits for all employees across the organisation. Workday will make it easier to extract the right information from across the business and provide Opteon with integrated and real-time reporting.

These customers are all Workday platform customers, using Workday for both HCM and financials allowing them to unlock data across the business and make faster and more informed decisions.

The Beyond the State of Dysfunction: Unleashing the Potential of Digital Transformation study lists five ‘digital deadlocks’ such as silos in innovation and organisations, outdated KPIs, a lack of strategic vision in tactical plans, and the never-ending talent shortage.  Can you expand on these?

Tom Shields: The research found that there were five key barriers to digital transformation but they only emerge once companies start on their transformation journey. Called digital deadlocks, they are the key obstacles to successful digital transformation. The five deadlocks are evident across the region and across different industries.

According to the research, the key deadlocks facing DX in Australia and New Zealand are organisational silos and conflict between departments. This is a major concern because when Finance, HR and IT departments are not working together, companies are ignoring their two most important assets: their people and finances.

To overcome siloes, companies need to incorporate solutions and create platforms to facilitate collaboration across different business functions.

The technology exists to allow the much-needed collaboration to ensure the success of digital transformation projects, business must stop trying to revitalise old, out of date systems that can’t deliver what modern business needs and demands, they must embrace modern technology to stay competitive in a disrupt -or-be-disrupted world. If they don’t start working together and realise a common goal, business success will never be achieved.

The research shows that whilst there are digital initiatives at functional levels, to achieve true digital transformation, it must be at the enterprise level and cross-functional. The technology exists to allow the much-needed collaboration to ensure the success of digital transformation projects, business must stop trying to revitalise old, out of date systems that can’t deliver what modern business needs and demands.

The survey suggests that DX in A/NZ is very much a centralised push, rather than something that is embedded into the core of departments and lines-of-business. What does this indicate about how organisations are approaching DX initiatives both through an initial rollout, and longer-term?

Stephen Jack: All business units have their own KPIs and budgets to meet, but what we have seen from the research is, that if they don’t start working together and realise a common goal, business success will never be achieved. The research has showed us businesses are not properly collaborating on digital transformation. It is alarming to think that 58% of C-level executives in Australia, and 62% of C-level executives in New Zealand, have not embedded DX into the lines-of-business or functional departments.

Looking at some of the statistics from Australia, 64% of firms say they don’t have a DX roadmap. Are organisations ignoring or postponing ways of dealing with the inevitable?

Stephen Jack: Many organisations implement technology solutions based on a current need, or a response to a specific need that requires an urgent fix.  Their current system may not deliver the insight they need or they may need to streamline manual processes.

For long-term results and success, they need to consider how the industry may change, what the future may look like and build a roadmap that will ensure the business is future-ready.

In New Zealand, almost half of C-level execs are seeing more than 10% ROI in their initiatives. What are the most effective ways of measuring ROI in DX?

Stephen Jack: The most important step in measuring ROI is to have clearly set metrics at the beginning, does the business want to improve productivity or reduce operational costs? Or is it looking to breakdown internal silos, improve employee or customer engagement, or prepare the business for future growth?

Once the objectives are firmly established and agreed by business leaders, metrics can be developed. 

Is there anything that you would like to add - perhaps some practical advice for our readers on DX?

Stephen Jack:

  • DX is a team sport that requires strong support from the top, and close and effective collaboration among team members. Organisations can overcome the digital deadlocks and realise the full potential of digital transformation by addressing the key issues.
  • To overcome the digital deadlocks highlighted in the research, we encourage businesses to develop a DX performance scorecard and a digital roadmap, embed digital in the business, develop digital capabilities and talents within their workforce, and implement a single digital platform.
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