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Change 4.0: Imperatives of Driving Change in the Digital Era

By Sushil Israni, Executive Director, Head of Risk Transformation, Bank of Singapore

Sushil Israni, Executive Director, Head of Risk Transformation, Bank of Singapore

Rapid advances in digital technologies are reshaping the business landscape, disrupting established industries and business models, and creating opportunities for rapid innovation and evolution of new business models. The rapid progression of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cloud Computing are having a profound impact on businesses, economies, and societies as a whole. These technologies are not essentially new; robots have existed for decades to carry out repetitive tasks. What is new is the rapid pace of evolution and the development of cognitive and learning capabilities in machines, computers, and robots.

These technologies are disrupting existing business models and in some cases, pose a threat to the very fabric of certain industries, companies, and functions. In particular, Rapid automation is threatening the way these entities are organized and operate and thus pose challenges to the people that belong to these environments. Nearly half of the activities performed by workers in the global economy have a potential for partial or full automation according to some research reports. And yet, these advancements create opportunities for tremendous productivity growth and job creation.

Implementing change across organizations is not a new phenomenon. For decades, organizations have been running people, process, and system change programs. These programs have been primarily focused on the automation of manual processes and organizational structure changes. The change management model has been focused on modifying actions and behaviors based on a mandate dictated by Senior Management that is cascaded down the various organizational layers by Change Agents.

"Nearly half of the activities performed by workers in the global economy have a potential for partial or full automation according to some research reports"

However, with the emergence of these disruptive trends in technological advancement, the narrative has shifted, and this has made the current Change Management playbook a bit redundant. The changes resulting from latest technologies are highly transformative, and it is no longer adequate to modify people’s actions and behaviors, but Change Management needs to shift towards modifying people’s beliefs and facilitating an environment in which people feel comfortable experimenting and adopting new and better ways of doing things. Change is now about helping people move from doing tasks or adhering to processes and moving towards owning a set of goals and outcomes and designing their methods and processes to achieve those outcomes.

This shift will require the Change Management function to adapt and move beyond traditional tools of Project Management and shift towards a customer-centric, outcome-focused approach leveraging tools such as Design Thinking, principles of Agile and Lean change delivery and a Product mindset to facilitate meaningful and lasting change.

A great story on successful change comes from China’s Insurance Industry where Ping An Insurance, whose names means ‘peace and safety’, has evolved from a sleepy Insurance giant and spawned a menagerie of proprietary technologies for its 5 key ecosystems of Finance, Health Care, Autos, Real Estate and Smart Cities. By introducing a culture of experimentation, and through the selection of internal Change champions and external Change experts. Ping An has managed to leverage its ‘high quality’ analog data and transform into a digital frontrunner with its technology business targeting to constitute50% of the business’ revenue over time.

These are exciting times to drive Change, Transformation, and Innovation. The opportunity to drive a change in mindsets to adapt to the digital era also requires a mindset and approach shift among Change Practitioners. It is now truly the case that to make change happen you need to Be the Change!

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