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Leveraging strategic levers to drive Digital Transformation

Future of Work|Talent

By Abhishek Mittal and Benjamin Ho | March 23, 2020

Are organizations investing adequately in digital enablement levers to drive digital transformation?

Digital Transformation: Leveraging strategic levers to navigate change and deliver results

Companies are at different stages of their digital transformation journeys. There are organizations which see digitalization as a way to fundamentally transform their business models. Such organizations have a clearly articulated digital strategy roadmap and are aggressively investing in digitalization enablers like leadership effectiveness, organization structure, capabilities, ways of working and human capital processes. On the other hand, there are companies who are getting started on their digitalization journey and considering which levers to pull to help the organization execute well.

Willis Towers Watson’s Pathways to Digital Enablement research study sheds light on how organizations in Singapore are transforming. The chart below shows the percentage of companies effectively using different levers on their digital transformation journeys.

Willis Towers Watson Pathways to Digital Enablement Findings
Willis Towers Watson's findings on how companies effectively use different levers on their digital transformation journeys.

Our data also shows that three out of five organizations in Singapore view digital as a capability that impacts all aspects of the value chain. Yet the question remains if organizations are investing adequately in digital enablement levers – Digital Strategy, Leadership, Organization Structure, Customer Orientation, Processes, Technology and Human Capital Management.

In our work with clients, we encounter situations where the digital strategy is overly focused on the technology aspects. While technology and tools are crucial, there is a need for a more holistic emphasis on factors that enable organizations execute on their strategy. Digital transformation is more than buying new technology. It is a refresh of the organizational operating system and mindset. Our research shows that only about 9% of organization in Singapore have an integrated business and digital strategy and pull all levers on the path to digital enablement.

Case Study: A leading bank in Singapore builds an innovation-focused culture to realize digital ambitions

We recently partnered a leading bank in Singapore to design a bespoke innovation culture diagnostic. The bank wanted to gain deeper insights on the underlying culture of innovation and a further assessment of the digital transformation enablement drivers (e.g. organization structure, human capital).

The diagnostic was custom-designed to allow for an inside-out perspective and the degree of alignment between what is being experienced by internal and external stakeholders. These insights were considered important because technology, customer centricity and employee experience work in tandem to drive and sustain the bank’s digital transformation strategy and roadmap.

With the aims of the diagnostic in mind, we designed a customized framework with three components - (a) Key levers (what are we doing to drive innovation?), (b) Success indicator (how competitive and nimble are we?), and (c) Foundation (what do we value as an organization and as individuals?).

Innovation Diagnostic Framework
Customized Innovation Diagnostic Framework for Driving Digitalization

Not surprisingly, the pilot assessment validated that the bank was ahead of industry benchmarks - almost 8 in 10 employees expressed strong belief and confidence in the bank’s competitive edge and the ability to stay ahead. From the pilot study, three key levers were shown to be important when trying to create an innovative digital organization in this specific organization’s context.

  • Products & Services (e.g. reputation for quality, anticipating new products and services)
  • Technology & Tools (e.g. transferring of best practices internally, creating new technology)
  • Structure (e.g. devolved and fast decision-making, high levels of trust, willingness to collaborate)

The data further reinforces how human and technology elements are intricately intertwined in digital transformations. This observation is underscored by the bank’s prevalent culture of innovation. A hallmark characteristic is the bank’s strong and concerted emphasis on continuous learning (98% employees indicated that the bank does this well), iterative risk-taking, and tolerance for failure.

The bank also knows how to leverage on its most valuable assets – almost 90% of staff say that they are constantly being encouraged to be curious and ask questions. Innovation is sparked when information flow between teams is fluid and transparent, and when everyone believes that good ideas can come from any part of the organization.

Getting Started

For organizations getting started on their digital transformation journeys, a sensible first step is to take stock of where they are currently and build a clear strategy informed by data and insights. Willis Towers Watson’s suite of agile employee listening tools and bespoke diagnostics empowers organizations to:

  • Understand the current state of digital readiness and culture, with a focus on benchmarking cultural attributes, leadership alignment on digital strategy, customer orientation, enabling structures, technology, processes and human capital programs
  • Obtain real-time insights on various workforce segments, including the “moments that matter” across the employee lifecycle.
  • Use insights to prioritize interventions and set pragmatic targets for changes on the digitalization journey.
  • Equip leaders and managers with insights to navigate and deliver change successfully.

Leader, Talent Line of Business, Singapore

Practice Leader, Employee Insights, Singapore

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