Dr. Fiona Lodge, Group SVP Collaboration, Dimension Data
Digital transformation manifests itself in organizations in many ways. We tend to fall into the technology trap of ‘what’ we use to communicate, rather than focusing on ‘why’ it’s important to ensure employees connect and collaborate effectively. Certainly business leaders want their employees to work together more effectively to boost productivity. They want to retain customers and gain new ones through improved customer service. They want to drive down costs by consuming technology in new ways and leveraging it to improve business processes. They want to gain an edge over their competitors. They want to embrace digital transformation to remain relevant in the face of the quickening pace of technology advances.
Yet surprisingly, most organizations – even large ones – don’t have a comprehensive digital workplace strategy. A recent Digital Workplace Report found that some 60 percent of organizations haven’t developed a formal and comprehensive strategy around how they deploy or plan to benefit from workplace technology. It was also found that two-thirds of organizations said they needed support from external partners when planning, designing, deploying and benefiting from workplace technology solutions.
What are some emerging trends in the collaboration space?
One of the major shifts we're seeing is that end-users, especially millennials entering the workforce, prefer to make their own decisions about how they communicate and collaborate. Looking at the different roles in today’s workforce, we're seeing that people's work styles are very different, and the collaboration tools they prefer to use are those that best fit not just what they need to accomplish, but how they prefer to communicate. There is no “one size fits all.”
Another major trend is the shift to mobile devices and tablets, where end users can download any app that suits their work style. That in itself is a challenge and opportunity for IT. The challenge is to have a central responsibility for cost management around infrastructure, governance, ethical boundaries and security.
It is always good to work with a trusted partner who will take the time to understand your business and help make your existing and new collaboration tools key enablers of great CX.
It can also be a great opportunity, if an organization can develop a smart way to package the right combination of apps or media to get the best out of each employee while managing costs and creating a wonderful place to work.
How do you implement a robust collaboration infrastructure?
The first suggestion would be to look more broadly at how effective internal collaboration can positively impact your go to market strategies and ensuring your products stay relevant to your customers. A key step is to ensure your customer experience analytics are being used to optimize your business performance. Sixty-four percent of companies say they use analytics to improve customer service. This means internal teams should be talking to each other, sharing information and working together to understand as much as possible about customers, how they engage with the products and to streamline collaboration between teams and individuals to improve that experience. It’s critical to understand all the touchpoints and how to more effectively use the internal tools, capabilities and skills to improve customer experience, increase relevancy and promote brand advocacy.
IT provides everybody with the tools they need to help drive their day-to-day, with the ultimate goal of improving their market relevance and customer experience. From an implementation perspective, it can be very complicated to implement collaboration. Building consensus around a single goal of where a company would strategically like to be and then mapping that into collaboration use cases within and between the various internal organizations that will deliver against that strategy gives everybody a collective understanding of where they want to go. They can then drive parallel projects in that direction and synchronize periodically to check in on progress and discuss what decisions are being made.
How do you find the right solution provider?
It is always helpful to get an outside perspective, especially from an organization that not only understands the technology but also the business benefits and outcomes it can provide. Transformation is potentially scary and expensive, so it is always good to work with a consultant who can take the time to understand your existing collaboration assets, how employees currently work and how the company currently communicates with clients.
In our experience, a well-executed transformation strategy is not just a big bang – rolling it out and moving on. The most successful transformation projects understand the impacts on their end-users and the changes that they will undergo in their day-to-day. It almost always is a multi-phased project with feedback loops at the end of each phase to see what worked well and what could be better.
This external provider should do more than sell products and services. They need to be a true partner, investing in your organization to be involved at all stages, and they need to be able to nimbly adapt to changes and challenges that arise. A provider that can be a partner in transformation and is willing to change just as much as your organization does, is key to ensure your organization ends up in the right place, rather than simply purchasing a bundle of services a provider wanted to sell you.