By Corporate English Solutions

17 July 2023 - 15:07

Learner personas: the key to successful digital transformation

Digital transformation surged during the pandemic, and with rapid technological advancements, its pace has intensified. Amidst an unpredictable and ever-evolving business environment, adopting digital transformation is vital for organisations to remain competitive and safeguard their operations.

How seamless is the digital transformation journey within your organisation?

By aligning your strategy with learner personas, you can navigate the intricacies of your digital transformation roadmap and effectively engage your workforce, accelerating the digital transformation process. Explore the success story of a medium-sized bank that harnessed this approach and discover actionable insights to empower your own digital transformation.


Reading time: 6 minutes

Pre-pandemic, organisations were embracing the power of digital technologies to increase efficiency and agility. Many were already investing in automation, cloud migration and data analytics to future-proof their operations.

Then came the pandemic. 

It was a wake-up call for organisations to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives. How else to quickly adapt to remote work and transition to online operations? Those with digital dexterity could pivot more easily. But many others struggled to keep up. 

Fast forward to today. Digital transformation is happening faster than ever. Because more organisations recognise how crucial it is to surviving in a highly competitive digital landscape. And how digital maturity is tied to financial performance.

Digital transformation initiatives bring many business opportunities. Think digital payments, e-commerce and contactless experiences, digital collaboration platforms and supply chain digitisation. But there are also challenges. Implementing digital technologies takes time, and so does the return on investment. It can also be difficult to get buy-in from employees who are resistant to change.

How to overcome these barriers? Maximise the use of learner personas. They are windows into the unique needs, skill levels, attitudes and preferences towards digital transformation of different employee groups. 

Read on to discover how a medium-sized bank with a presence in several countries supercharged their digital business transformation post-pandemic by using learner personas. And gain valuable insights on how you can do the same.

Case study: How to use learner personas to drive digital transformation

Digital transformation in banking accelerated during the pandemic and continues since. The bank is implementing automation, such as mobile banking, digital payments, AI powered chatbots, robotic process automation and enhanced security measures to support and engage large numbers of customers, reduce errors and improve efficiency, freeing up human resources for more complex interactions and tasks. They are also investing in cloud services, including blockchain technology and open banking improve cross-border payments and facilitate personalised financial management. And making increased use of data analytics to recommend tailored products and services and improve customer engagement. 

Employee competence and engagement are key to the success of these large-scale, complex digital transformation initiatives. We’ll explore how they are using three of their initial learner personas to support and gain the buy-in of three different employee groups and ensure the success of their digital transformation strategy. 

Learner personas, medium-sized bank:

  Mahia, 53, Branch manager Aisha, 41, Call centre customer service rep. Hao Yu, 28, Marketing specialist
Job related skill level Highly experienced and skilled in banking operations and management. Highly skilled in customer service, problem-solving, and product knowledge. Proficient in digital marketing, analytics, content creation, social media, and automation tools.
Digital transformation focus Implementing digital banking solutions and enhancing customer experience. Adopting digital customer service solutions, leveraging data for better customer insights. Leveraging digital marketing channels, data analytics and automation for targeted marketing campaigns.
Digital and tech competencies Moderate knowledge of digital banking platforms, CRM systems and analytics tools, lacks advanced skills. Very experienced in telephone banking systems, low competence in operating new systems. Proficient in digital marketing, automation, social media analytics and AI for content creation.
Attitudes towards tech and digital transformation Understands the importance of tech in banking operations, sceptical about the impact of digital transformation on customer relationships. Resistant to digital transformation, prefers traditional methods of customer service. Passionate about digital marketing, embraces new tech and strategies for driving customer engagement.
Communication preferences In-person meetings, video calls, emails; likes detailed reports. In-person meetings and conversations; detailed instructions and manuals, step-by-step guides. Digital collaboration platforms, project management tools and online forums.
Learning preferences Online learning, prefers to focus on leadership rather than tech skills. In-person learning, detailed instructions and 121 guidance. Industry conferences, blogs, informal learning, online courses and webinars.


Tip #1: Use learner personas to enhance digital transformation strategies

A strategy for digital transformation is crucial as it provides a clear roadmap, aligns efforts, and maximises the chances of successful implementation. But how many organisations incorporate insights from learner personas into the development of digital transformation strategies?

The bank knew it needed a well-rounded perspective, taking into consideration the concerns, expertise, and preferences of different stakeholders. It analysed learner personas for insights into how different employee groups could participate in shaping its digital transformation strategy. 

They assigned experienced, knowledgeable managers with similar profiles to Mahia as key stakeholders in developing their strategy. They leveraged these stakeholders’ experience and understanding of traditional customer relationships to ensure a balanced approach to digital transformation decisions, actively seeking insights on maintaining personal customer connections alongside digital initiatives. 

They ensured that experienced, yet resistant employees with limited digital skills, such as Aisha, were included in focus groups and workshops to gain insights into potential digital transformation challenges faced. This also provided an opportunity to address their resistance to digital transformation early on, assuring them that their viewpoints were important and taken into consideration during digital strategy development. 

They capitalised on the knowledge of emerging trends and innovative techniques and digital skills of employees like Hao Yu to ensure that digital transformation goals and business strategies were in alignment. 

This approach fostered more inclusive and effective planning and decision making, leading to a digital transformation strategy and roadmap that addressed the needs of a wide range of employees. It also empowered employees and made them feel valued, increasing engagement and commitment to the bank’s digital transformation strategy.

Tip #2: Use learner personas to design adoption strategies to overcome digital transformation challenges

Have you heard of a large and complex change initiative implemented without challenges? Digital transformation is no exception: its scale, interdependencies, resistance to change, communication gaps, and the complexities of organisational culture can have a negative impact on success. 

By incorporating the insights and needs of these personas into digital transformation frameworks and adoption strategies, the bank has been able to address specific challenges and concerns and overcome resistance of employees like Mahia and Aisha, while leveraging the expertise of individuals like Hao Yu to further digital transformation initiatives. 

Branch managers, along with customer service leads, are crucial in driving the adoption of digital tools within their teams. The bank has focused on empowering them as change agents by involving them in decision-making and providing them with coaching, guidance and resources to effectively lead their teams through the digital transformation process. Personalised, online micro-learning has supported managers to develop their own digital skills, integrating social learning with other managers to provide a supportive environment. 

The bank has also implemented a system of rewards for managers and their teams - an incentive programme that motivates the teams to embrace digital transformation and showcase its benefits to other teams. These digital adoption strategies have also impacted managers’ initial scepticism about digital transformation: by talking about its benefits and leading digital transformation within their teams, they have adopted a more positive attitude and are more engaged in the process. 

Customer service representatives have been provided with accessible, clear, non-technical resources and visual aids with step-by-step instructions to assist them in understanding and implementing digital customer service solutions and how to leverage data insights for better customer service. More skilled team members are on hand to address concerns, provide guidance, and offer hands-on assistance in how to operate new systems.

Employees who are passionate about and embrace new tech, such as Hao Yu, have been given opportunities for stretch projects on digital innovation. The bank has formed small cross-functional project teams, tasked with discovering new strategies, tools and techniques and experimenting with these on a project to assess their potential for wider implementation. By leveraging the expertise and enthusiasm of this learner persona, and allowing autonomy and resources to implement ideas, they too are engaged in digital transformation. 

This approach has allowed the bank to optimise its adoption strategies to facilitate change, overcome challenges and smooth the path of digital transformation across teams and geographies.

Tip #3: Use learner personas to design communication strategies that engage employees in digital transformation

In the dynamic period of digital transformation, effective communication strategies serve as the backbone, empowering implementation strategies and overcoming challenges to ensure success. 

Recognising this, the bank’s internal communications team set up a cross-functional project team to develop a strategy that combined general communications such as town halls, newsletters and discussion forums with targeted strategies for different employee groups. They used insights from the learner personas to outline the channels, frequency, content, and tone of communications for each group. The initial strategy included: 

  • emailing detailed monthly reports and updates to branch managers, followed by in-person meetings to discuss the vision, objectives, and progress of digital transformation initiatives
  • rolling out weekly webinars and workshops led by digital advocates such as Hao Yu, where they shared their knowledge and experiences, providing a platform for them to showcase their expertise and inspire colleagues
  • curating a range of concise, clear, accessible weekly communications for managers to provide to the branch and customer service teams according to the teams’ needs
  • setting up ambassador programmes where enthusiastic employees act as advocates for digital transformation, sharing updates and success stories with their colleagues and networks
  • providing a range of communication channels and templates for managers, ambassadors and individuals to select from to develop their own communications, including intranet pages, emails, video messages, newsletters and social media platforms

For those concerned about the impact of digital transformation on customer relationships, like Mahia, they crafted communications that highlighted how digital tools can enhance rather than replace these relationships. 

The team regularly reviews the communications strategy and adapts it to the various stages of transformation and shifting needs and expectations of different groups. This approach acknowledges the unique characteristics of different learner personas, leverages their strengths and mitigates their concerns to drive understanding, engagement, and participation in digital transformation initiatives.

The journey toward building a digital organisation

Every organisation’s journey toward building a digital-ready workforce will be different. And it will be a continual process rather than a final destination. 

Wherever you may be on your digital transformation journey, you can apply the bank’s learning to leverage your learner personas and drive successful digital transformation in your organisation.

British Council has been supporting organisations worldwide to identify and develop skills and ensure talent is equipped for success now and in future. Partner with us to upskill your workforce in the crucial skills for success in 2023 and beyond.