CIO Zone

Workday: Culture is at the heart of digital transformation

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Oliver McKenna, CTO EMEA, Workday.
Oliver McKenna, CTO EMEA, Workday.

The right culture within the organisation, driven by inspiring leaders, is an important enabler of digital transformation. 

This is according to Oliver McKenna, CTO EMEA at Workday, who was addressing a webinar on how to embrace digital transformation this week.  “A culture of agility, enabled by technology, supports transformation within the organisation.” 

The hardest part of a digital transformation programme is getting started, he said.

“There are two places you could begin. You could begin with the customer, looking at how to better service them and deliver product. Or – what I recommend - you could start internally and begin by transforming the organisation."

McKenna said Workday puts people as the number one value, "because we believe that if you create an environment in which people are connected, engaged and inspired, that improves customer experience.” 

He believes there are pockets of transformation excellence and innovation among South African companies: “I have been amazed at some of the examples of what companies are doing in South Africa to transform digitally.”

Success demands operating at a “higher metabolic rate”, he added. “Energy and vitality is needed within an organisation to up its game. We can have change happen to us, or we can be at the heart of the change. CFOs, CHROs and CIOs have a tremendous opportunity to be at the heart of that change.”

McKenna highlighted some of the real questions every part of the business is asking today. “CFOs are focused on market plans, vulnerabilities and opportunities, and they are asking: How do we use the capital we have, do we pull back or do we invest more?

“HR is asking: How do we reshape ourselves for tomorrow? With skills the currency for modern organisations, HR is focused on whether they have the right skills they need for tomorrow, and how they are performing as a people organisation. Equality is crucial for every organisation now, and HR is also considering how they provide an environment where people can perform their best no matter what their background is. 

"The CIO is addressing how to rewire processes to days and weeks instead of months and years, asking: How do we reinvent technology delivery to move the business forward, faster?”

McKenna outlined seven key components of a digital culture:

  1. Continuous recalibration: faster plan-execute-analyse cycles, to make the right decisions faster.
  2. Run in the now: break down silos and operate seamlessly in real time.
  3. Mitigate uncertainty with the full picture: unify people and operational data in an open and connected environment.
  4. Rewire processes in days: empower business owners to move faster.
  5. Shape a new future: effectively use data to run scenarios for actionable insights.
  6. Elevate human performance: embrace automation to take away the drudgery of work, and harness ML to assist employees and elevate human performance.
  7. Measure real-world impact: set targets and milestones, and monitor and adjust as you go along.

He highlighted the Workday Enterprise Management Cloud with a unified data core and adaptable architecture, which enable advanced spend management, financial management and human capital management. The platform is AI/ML driven and enables adaptive planning, analytics and reporting.

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