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A change in attitude, behaviour is key to digital transformation

Read time 5min 10sec
Sizwe Mabanga, customer engineer, Digicloud Africa.
Sizwe Mabanga, customer engineer, Digicloud Africa.

While the current COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating and a tragedy for humanity, it has also given us opportunities to re-explore how we do things. A change in attitude and behaviour is necessary for digital transformation, and the situation we find ourselves in today is forcing all of us to evolve the way we work and how we generate value for our organisations.

So said Sizwe Mabanga, customer engineer at Digicloud Africa, speaking during a webinar yesterday on ‘Managing remote workers, and how COVID-19 is accelerating the future of work’.

He said there are three big things that have started to change for all of us. “There’s been a change of pace in terms of the work we have to do and the rate at which we need to react to various inputs from the global market. There’s been a change in team dynamics as a direct result of this pandemic because of us not being co-located. And then there's been a change in the nature of innovation.”

Removing constraints

“Around 2012 to 2013, I was working at a bank, and was at the tail end of a huge IT project that had been going on for about two years,” Mabanga said. “However, nothing was in production yet. We had the functionality, but the leadership team wasn’t really in agreement about what needed to happen next, and the architects were angry. What we needed was the CIO to step in and pull everybody back onto the same page, but while she was committed to doing this, there was no meeting room available that was big enough to fit the entire team, which numbered 160 people.”

By the time the team got to speak to the CIO, it was a week later, and one of the main architects had left. “I think the back and the spirit of this project had been broken. By the time she spoke to us, she was speaking to people who had lost interest. But this is no longer the case today. Had this happened today, they would have had the cloud tools available to them, and she could have called a meeting over Google Meet with 160 people instantly. The constraint of needing a large enough meeting room has been removed.

“This plays out on multiple scales, not just with large teams. Even a small team might need to make a decision because of some new input and might have to wait until a room is available. We can interact and make decisions immediately. These collaboration tools have given us the ability to strike while the iron is hot,” Mabanga added.

A change in dynamics

He said digital transformation has been happening irrespective of the pandemic and it’s a question of an organisation's attitude to it. “This brings me to my next point, which is about the change in team dynamics and organisational transformation. I’ll use Digicloud’s move into this new work from home as an example. In February, we had to make this transition as a team. With any corporation, there is leadership, middle management and then the guys on the ground, and what they need from the situation needs to be considered. Our CEO, who is an accountant, decided to incorporate some of the concepts of Agile into the way our teams work, which has been a great success for us.”

Agile enabled the Digicloud team to stay plugged in. “At its core, Agile is essentially a bunch of scripted conversations. We get together and everybody bounces questions off the script. Everybody answers what they achieved yesterday, what they plan to achieve today, and what assistance they may need from other team members. This ensures that everybody is always on the same page when it comes to strategic imperatives, tactical goals, and what needs to be done to assist each other. No team member is left behind.”

According to Mabanga, another benefit is that productivity has been separated from time spent at the desk. “People assume that being at your desk is directly linked to productivity, but this is no longer the case. We are no longer tied to office hours, which, in any case, aren’t that relevant in a global economy - half the people we're dealing with from a Digicloud perspective are in a different time zone. We are now in control of when we are productive.”

A change in attitude

Then there’s the question of a change in attitude to innovation. Every company had a story around where they’ve got an innovation run, are holding hackathons, or inviting people to submit innovations for evaluation and then implementation if they like the ideas. It was all very well and good, he said, but it wasn't quite hitting the mark.

“We’ve discovered that innovation is collaboration among the team. The team uses these cloud tools to generate content documents that are relevant to our way of work in real-time. We can jump onto a call together, pull up the document and edit together. This was innovation that enabled us to make the most headway and come up with new ideas that add the most value to our clients and stakeholders.”

He said the company did this collectively, which has in-lined innovation instead of making it something that happens at hackathons. “This is where I feel the cloud is becoming a tool that empowers us as the guys who have to do work on the ground, to actually deliver on the asks of our leaders.”

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