Change vs. Change Management: A Critical Difference in the Digital Age

Change vs. change management – what’s the difference? And why does it matter?

In the digital age, change management matters more than ever.

To understand why, it’s important to grasp:

  • Change vs. change management – how the two are different and why it’s important
  • The advantages of managed organizational change
  • Digital technology’s impact on the economy and the workplace

These distinctions can help business professionals develop change management strategies that drive real business results.

Change vs. Change Management: What’s the Difference?

Organizational change is significant business change.

Here are a few examples of such business changes:

  • A company adopts digital software tools to modernize its IT function
  • A merger causes two companies to merge departments, processes, cultures, and more
  • A new product line results in new processes, personnel, and so forth

These are just a few of the many types of organizational change.

What’s important to realize about these processes is that they cannot succeed accidentally.

To achieve positive outcomes, organizational change must be managed.

Change management performs that function, by helping:

  • Design and streamline organizational changes
  • Create, monitor, and analyzes change projects
  • Train and enable employees to change
  • Overcome barriers to change, such as employee resistance

There are many advantages to managed change – better project outcomes, decreased costs, and improved ROI, to name a few.

Change Management Is a Strategic Differentiator

In today’s digital age, change management isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

In fact, it is a strategic differentiator.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Today’s digital economy is driven by digital technology and disruptive change, compelling organizations to adapt 
  • Managed change improves business, processes, and results
  • Decreased costs, improved results, and higher ROI contribute to the bottom line
  • In a digital economy driven by change, organizations that can change more effectively have an advantage over those that can’t

These reasons demonstrate why managed change is so necessary.

It’s true that an organization may attempt to undergo unmanaged change – but failure rates are high and the results will be poor.

Ultimately, change management delivers significant ROI for any organization.

Let’s look at some examples that prove the value of change management.

Two Examples that Prove the Need for Change Management

Here are two major change trends that define today’s digital landscape.

Looking at these two examples can help us understand the value, ROI, and benefits of change management.

The Digital Skills Gap

Thanks to technology, today’s workplace – and workforce – is changing rapidly.

Digital skills are in high demand and many organizations struggle to keep up.

According to a report by PwC:

  • CEOs’ concern over the availability of skills has risen dramatically in the past few years. Those who are “extremely” or “somewhat” concerned: 79% in 2019 versus 53% in 2012.
  • 55% of “extremely concerned” CEOs feel that this skills gap negatively impacts their ability to innovate. And 52% report a more-than-expected increase in people costs.
  • The most important method for closing that gap, according to 46% of respondents, is “significant retraining/upskilling.”

As this report demonstrates, the skills gap compels many organizations to train, re-skill, and upskill.

These types of organizational changes are becoming more common every day, especially as digital technology continues to advance in the workplace.

To compensate and stay ahead of the curve, organizations must adopt new digital technology.

But this requires continuous employee training solutions.

For this reason, change managers are:

  • Using a mix of training approaches. Digital technology, such as e-learning and online training software, reduces training time and improves productivity.
  • Improving onboarding. Faster, better onboarding reduces friction during hiring, software adoption, new user acquisition, and so on.
  • Implementing technology to improve training and onboarding. Digital adoption solutions – that is, digital adoption platforms – are cutting-edge training solutions that cut costs, improve worker engagement, and increase employee productivity.

These approaches are a few ways that change managers help their organizations bridge the widening digital skills gap.

Digital Transformation

The digital skills gap is the result of a larger trend, digital transformation.

Digital transformation refers to the holistic transformation and evolution of an organization, including:

  • Technology – What digital tools, software, infrastructure, and applications a company uses.
  • Strategy – How relevant and current an organization’s strategy is, especially in the context of today’s changing digital marketplace.
  • Processes – Whether those tools are being fully utilized, and how innovative a company is with its technology.
  • People – How much a company’s culture embraces and implements its technology.

A holistic approach to digital transformation ensures that a company can evolve, compete, and stay relevant.

This includes change initiatives such as:

  • Digital Adoption – Adopting, implementing, and utilizing new technology to its fullest extent
  • Digital Maturation – Increasing the maturity level of a company’s digital technology, culture, efficiency, and so on
  • Training and Upskilling – Ensuring that employees are fully productive and skilled with necessary technology

Digital transformation embraces every area of an organization, from the customer experience to IT infrastructure.

Ensuring that these transformations succeed is crucial, which is why change management is so essential … especially in today’s digital marketplace.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.