A Cutting-Edge Culture of Change in the Middle East: An IT Leader’s Perspective

A Cutting-Edge Culture of Change in the Middle East: An IT Leader’s Perspective
September 20, 2022

The global events of the past few years have permanently shifted us into a new era; defined by constant change, consumer-grade IT expectations, and digital innovation.

Successful and sustainable digital transformation relies on an organization’s ability to make informed, data-driven decisions; achieve buy in from executive leadership; challenge the status quo; and future-proof investments against economic fluctuations.

As a leader within IT governance domain, focused on driving continuous improvement to employee experience, it’s become increasingly clear that the link between business outcomes and providing superior technology to users has never been stronger.

As Egypt enters into a defining digital era where growth and change are constant; and disruptive innovation is rapid, adopting and embedding a truly customer-centric culture makes the difference between a bank surviving or thriving.

Employee experience drives customer experience.

A key competitive advantage in the banking industry is to provide ‘digital-firsts’ to customers that drive value, and that is most effectively achieved by prioritizing your internal customers; your employees, so they benefit from superior end-user technology provision and support that is consistent in-office and remotely, underpinned by an ever-present relationship with IT that listens to needs, preferences, and working styles, and proactively communicates.

Digital transformation never stops.

As an IT leader, gaining an accurate view of your IT estate and the right data at your fingertips to make informed decisions is key to empowering iterative digital transformation across the enterprise. Championing a bank that has a DNA of providing firsts to the market, sustainable continuous improvement is critical to future-proofing against disruptive innovation, the status quo, and other competitive threats.

If you treat digital transformation as a project–or a series of projects–it doesn’t have the organization-wide impact required for it to produce substantial change. A project is something planned, developed, and deployed by a single team (in this case, an IT team). It might have the potential to help employees and generate revenue for the business, but those parties have little involvement in the project itself. The IT team simply presents them with a “product” and tells them what to do with it.

Choose to instead think of transformation as a program. With this mindset, every innovation or new piece of technology becomes a company-wide process involving not just the IT team, but leadership and employees as well. IT sparks momentum and creates ambassadors and change-makers dedicated to owning and driving their piece of the transformation.

Executive buy-in and future-proofing

The “program” starts at the top with executives and senior management. Securing the buy-in of leadership is absolutely critical to successful transformation.

When you bring a transformation initiative to senior leadership, help them understand its purpose, and communicate what results it can produce in the language of the business, these leaders are far likelier to become sponsors for the initiative–advocating for it among fellow executives and throughout the company, investing in its success, and cascading that across the organization.

Running a transformation program also gives employees a significant voice. Constantly listening to employees through engagement campaigns that gathers sentiment, and pairing that feedback with telemetry insights from past and current innovation initiatives makes for a robust virtuous circle between IT, business outcomes, and users.

It’s no different than providing products to external customers – the user is the one who determines how successful a service really is. Thinking of transformation as an ongoing program rather than a project ensures that the user’s voice is always being heard.

A customer-centric culture

It’s important to remember that digital transformation creates a number of risks for employee experience. The goal of new technology is to help employees – but if that technology is too complex, the initiative will have the opposite effect.

For this reason, the way you architect an employee-facing service is very important. Efficiency and ease-of-use should always be the top priorities. Even a service that can perform complex tasks should be very simple for employees to use.

Remember, any new technology being deployed is being added to the many services employees already work with. If your staff is like ours, it includes employees of many different ages, skill sets, and technological dexterity. Some employees can adapt quickly to a new service and understand its complicated features and capabilities. But others will struggle to keep up, and productivity and employee happiness will become inconsistent across the workforce.

We avoid this problem by prioritizing simplicity before we provide a new service. For example, we don’t want to equip employees with a tool that requires multiple complicated actions to use, or an application that forces employees to submit requests in order to activate certain features, etc.

When we deploy a new service to employees, we ask ourselves: do we feel confident that all ages and experience levels will be able to adopt it and start gaining utility from day one.

Proactivity is a positivity movement.

Constant change has become unavoidable in today’s work environments. In every industry, IT teams can’t rely on the status quo if they want to provide great experiences, keep ahead of competition, and provide consumer-grade technology that meets and exceeds expectations. With that being said: the only changes that make a positive impact are the changes that employees embrace.

We have gained momentum in these dynamic times by keeping the user at the forefront of the changes we make. When employees understand IT initiatives, have a say in their development, and adopt them without struggle, every change is a positive one.

To achieve the same success, embrace this philosophy: As the digital workplace becomes more complex, the services you provide should become more straightforward. With this, IT positions itself as a future-thinking, enterprise-wide, cross-functional business enabler, as opposed to a cost to the organization.

As a next chapter, I look forward to continue driving proactive, customer-focused change, bringing governance to life, rolling out technological solutions that quantitively save time and resources, and implementing powerful automations across the bank that enable IT to continue to innovate faster and faster.

Yasser Fouad Ramadan is a seasoned enterprise ITSM executive with over 20 years’ experience in the Telecom and Banking industry.Learn More

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