Research Hub > Engaged Coworkers Boost the Success of Digital Transformation
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Engaged Coworkers Boost the Success of Digital Transformation

Sharing a clear vision, protecting the benefits of change and focusing on career advantages can help employees adapt to long-term changes.

Digital transformations often fail because organizations don’t sufficiently engage their employees or take the proper steps to bring them on the journey. When CDW embarked on a digital transformation initiative in 2020, our coworkers were a priority. We asked ourselves: How do you bring people along? How do you communicate effectively? How do you measure the impact and strain on employees so that you don’t ask too much of your organization at once?

When leaders pay attention to change management, they avoid jeopardizing morale or engendering resistance. That was imperative at CDW, where the technology team has many valuable, long-term coworkers we don’t want to lose. Just as we recommend to customers, the three prongs of our digital transformation were people, process and technology.

Here’s how we invested in a change management process that considered the human aspect.

Share the Vision and Reasons for Transformation

First, we communicated a clear vision and strategy. In CDW’s case, our discovery process yielded concrete goals: We needed to replace legacy technology with scalable, efficient and high-performing solutions. We also needed to reduce complexity and manual processes.

To get coworkers on board with these aims, we shared them early and often. We were also transparent about what everyone could expect. Before rolling out new tools, we solicited feedback through steering committees and provided ample training and other resources.

We were intentional in our decisions. For example, one goal was to increase consistency by standardizing on enterprisewide solutions. Yet we recognized that we should capture one-off innovations worth rolling up to the enterprise and retain localizations when they made sense. Being thoughtful about our approach helped us gain credibility and acceptance.

Let Employees Enjoy the Benefits of Change

CDW’s transformation freed up more time for our people by reducing technical debt, automating processes and creating standard workflows. But we didn’t follow that up by asking coworkers to fill their newly acquired free time by taking on more work. With our sales team, for instance, we wanted them to use that extra time to focus on customers. We encouraged people to focus on the opportunities before them, in part by making sure that we highlighted wins and successes that coworkers were achieving as a result of the changes.


Guide Teams to Take Advantage of Upskilling Opportunities

Digital transformation presented a phenomenal opportunity for our team to upskill. For example, when we began, CDW relied almost exclusively on data centers. Our technology team recognized the career benefits of participating in cloud migration and was excited to learn this new skill set. Taking advantage of this opportunity within CDW’s familiar environment was a low-stakes way for team members to upskill, rather than coming into a cloud-native company and being a fish out of water.

At the same time, we recognized that learning these new skills was a big ask of our team. To support them, we hired experts to cross-train a small number of team members, who then led others in the heavy lifting of making CDW cloud-enabled. Being part of this process at a Fortune 200 company was a unique opportunity for our coworkers, and we focused on that benefit while ensuring that they had all the resources they needed to succeed.

Our focus on people paid off. Three years after starting our digital transformation, we’ve brought 470 coworkers and 400 contractors through this process with less than 3 percent yearly attrition. That speaks volumes to the people we have on the team and the attention we paid to making sure we brought them on the journey.

Sanjay  Sood

Sanjay Sood

Chief Technology Officer
Sanjay Sood is CTO of CDW.
Mike  Kennedy

Mike Kennedy

Vice President of Technology Enablement and Strategy
Mike Kennedy is vice president of technology enablement and strategy at CDW.
Lee  Washington

Lee Washington

Vice President of Enterprise Infrastructure and Applications
Lee Washington is vice president of enterprise infrastructure and applications at CDW.