Navigating the People Factor in Digital Transformation with Digital EA

Navigating the People Factor in Digital Transformation with Digital EA

While referred to as “digital” transformation, the people factor involved in this process poses the greatest risk to what is perhaps the priciest investment most organisations will make in the coming decade. Without an understanding of this risk to any digital transformation initiative and a deliberate effort to counter it, true digital transformation and the investment money put in it are at risk.

Digital transformation is the process of transforming an organisation's core business processes by leveraging new technology. Technology is always about doing more with less, yet that combination is effective only if organisations pair technology with the right human skills. While it is tempting to think that this transformation will be done on the backs of emerging technology, the people factor, the employees that make this transformation possible, plays a critical success factor and role in this digital transformation efforts. One of the biggest threats to digital transformation comes from the rise of their people themselves.

The People Factor

As with any new technologies, the adoption process involves exploring both research-and-development and trial-and-error. And as with any new technology adoption, developing a true understanding of how the adoption process will unfold and the future impact it will have on organisations is critically important. Organisations must be prepared for the potential people impact of digital transformation. The main implication is that when organisations think about investing in technology, they should first think about investing in the human capital who are the people who can make that technology useful and relevant for the business.

People are the connectors, those who can ask the right questions, form the right relationships, break down artificial barriers, enable a new level of cooperation, build trust and maximise efficiency that all these form mutually beneficial to those who are involved. When people truly grasp this mindset and their roles are part of the team who drive digital transformation initiative, organisations will actually arrive in the tech-age.

People Factor and Digital Enterprise Architecture

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Many organisations are jumping in with full force to get on board into digital transformation wave on purpose and also as a strategic goal. Digital transformation is a new way of doing business, and if organisations can leverage human adaptability to reskill and upskill the workforce, then they can simultaneously augment humans and technology. With the help of Digital Enterprise Architecture (EA), it will guide the organisation to achieve its current and future business objectives through its common framework and development methodology.

No doubt, that people factor is playing a vital role in ensuring the successful digital transformation and they must be equipped with the necessary competencies to fulfil the tasks and roles assigned to them. Organisations must look into fostering the people culture with digital competency development plan  as part of the human capital investment which is one of the key important factor for any successful digital transformation.

However, there is lack of digital learning culture which resulted in slow rate of digital transformation adoption in many organisations. Just as digital transformation is more about people and culture rather than technology, the key skills are ‘soft-skills’ rather than ‘hard-skills’. Digital Transformation readiness and awareness or sociological elements in digital transformation efforts is needed to monitor enterprise performance and drive enterprise transformation initiatives that are supported by everyone in the organisation. Knowledge exchanges between architects and project members also have a significant influence on the success of digital transformation outcomes.

People factors are often neglected and overlooked when executing digital transformation with EA as they typically assume that these soft elements will implicitly happen when the EA gets implemented for the transformation effort as well as too much emphasis on the technology itself. Nevertheless, lack of focus on equipping the people who are involved with the right competencies in Digital EA could be the reason why many organisations still struggle with their digital transformation journey. It is therefore important to instil digital learning culture that endorsed trained EA talent for a seamless digital transformation journey.

This will minimise the impact of digital transformation and the risk it poses to organisations in addressing complex problems associated with it. People factor plays an important role and by understanding each key element in each roles, issues in people aspect in digital transformation can be resolved quickly together with the establishment of Digital EA framework and metamodel. At this point in time, transformation risk is higher than failure risk. The successful digitalisation of an enterprise is critical to the organisation’s long-term survival.

Author: Aaron Tan Dani 

President of Singapore Computer Society EA-Chapter  
Founder and Chairman of Iasa Asia Pacific  
Aaron Tan Dani, Chief Architect of ATD Solution    

Related websites:  

Join the EA activities in Singapore and learn how you can implement Digital-Business-driven EA in your organisation.  
Computer Society EA-Chapter:Home - Singapore Computer Society ( and  

Learn more about ITABoK (IT Architecture Body of Knowledge) skillsets and about the roles, scopes and impacts of EA Specializations. 

Acquire successful Digital Transformation adoption with ATD Enterprise Architecture consulting and training services.