Desmond Struwig, Executive Head of Digital at Decision Inc, examines the value of productivity in unleashing enterprise potential
The enterprise dynamic has shifted. The ways in which enterprise and employee engage with one another and the customer has changed. Tools, platforms, technology, solutions, attitudes and environment have fundamentally altered the way we work. It is a new business paradigm enabled by technology, driven by mobility and transformed by innovation.
Today, internet-connected mobile devices outnumber human beings. That’s more than 7.5 billion devices.
Employees engage with their devices constantly, with the average employee having at least three. 72% of these employees use their devices to store company data and 53% of the workforce checks their phone before they get out of bed. The mobile device has become an inherent part of lifestyle, enabling both personal and business tasks and communication.
Mobile enablement is also changing the way that human beings engage with one another and technology. A great example is demonstrated by what a four-year-old is able to achieve when left alone with a mobile phone. Their desire for all the exciting game elements which could be unlocked through in-app purchases and ability to find their way around Apple’s parental controls and in-app purchase procedures has seen more than one parent foot a fantastical bill. The resulting debit for R4000.00 in digital diamonds was fortunately also seen by Apple as being an error and refunded. Beyond the concept of improving parental controls, there is a clear message: If a child of four years old can enable themselves to process purchases using mobile commerce, then just imagine how much value your employees could create when enabled with the right tools and mobile productivity solutions.
It is essential that the enterprise engage with the potential inherent in mobility to drive productivity and empower employees.
Our workforces and workplaces are constantly evolving, we need to leverage the benefits of digital transformation to improve performance, experience and engagement for our customers and employees.
We should be finding out what questions the enterprise should be asking when it comes to tapping into the potential of enabling mobile productivity throughout the organisation.
The first is likely the most critical – why do businesses invest millions into applications and systems that, by design, restrict how their employees are able to generate value for their organisations?
These apps and systems may be designed to improve security or ensure productivity, but often they have a negative impact on efficiency. The enterprise can no longer afford to stand as the stern dictator over mobile usage and methodology. It’s a strategy doomed to failure as employees lose interest or move on to companies that allow them the freedom to use their apps and systems more effectively.
Another question that’s worth asking is – what can the business do to drive success for enterprise mobility programmes?
The answer is to mobilise the enterprise productivity agenda and integrate mobility into business productivity solutions. Mobilising the enterprise and its processes and applications, along with the introduction of new technologies, will increase efficiency and create opportunity.
The primary goals of any enterprise mobility programme should be to improve productivity, create new revenue or service delivery opportunities, and to reignite the competitive advantage. Most organisations are playing catch-up as disruption and innovation increase the number and variety of competitors, as well as the demands of customers and employees. However, while the goals are relevant, there are significant challenges. Organisations sit in a complex landscape with security issues, management challenges, non-managed devices, and no clear idea as to where they should start.
THE STARTING POINT
To establish the starting point, focus on customer experience (CX). Define the user requirements and the desired business outcome before determining the technology that enables it, then use experience to drive adoption for a competitive advantage.
The business case for CX is well-documented and statistically supported, but to truly see the benefits, the business must practically realise it. Start from the outside-in with a clear business objective and defined users. It’s also important to avoid mobile adoption and implementation on a case-by-case basis. Instead, imagine the business is brand new today so you can redesign its approach for tomorrow. Map out a clear journey and redesign systems and approaches accordingly.
The definitive user experience isn’t an art form, its science. It can be transformed through lean thinking, clear CX strategies, and a prioritised approach towards technology and software adoption.
Start by identifying the problem, understand it, then test multiple solutions that address it until you find one that delivers tangible results. Shift from the output of wireframes and mock-ups to outcomes and testable prototypes. This methodology allows you to fail and succeed far more quickly. This is the pathway to a robust and agile implementation that realistically delivers on the UX strategy and addresses the issues that impact it.
Of course, this brings the business to the next consideration – the technology. For the technology, the challenge lies in determining the solution that fits within the CX strategy and ensuring that the platform and device choices are relevant and capable of accelerating enterprise development.
Computing has changed. There are wearables and body monitors and new applications and concepts for working in virtual environments. There is mobile web versus hybrid versus native. There are applications and options from Xamarin, Phonegap, Ionic and Oracle. There are the platforms of iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry.
Where is the business supposed to start?
Different demographics require different solutions so the enterprise must find a balance between enablement and control by evaluating the risks against employee needs and then choosing the best combination for satisfying the identified business and user outcomes.
There are three moves towards more dynamic mobile integration:
- Exploit virtualised environments – creating an environment where the business systems and data are physically and logically separate from the accessing device. This provides employees with the freedom to work on a device that suits them.
- Know your people – Understand the needs of your different types of users.
- Know your systems – leverage a hybrid IT approach to ensure services are consumed from the optimum source at any given point in time.
It is essential that the enterprise keep up with customer demand and this requires continuous integration with accelerated release cycles to improve speed to market and agility.
What should follow on from the technology is, of course, the data.
The business must become data driven, collecting data at every point and opportunity. By ensuring that there is improved enterprise access to data and the insights it offers, the business can solve its problems with information. This information is the proverbial key to unlocking potential and driving sustainable growth, far more so than simply throwing more technology at the problems in the hope that they will go away. It will also enhance employee and customer engagement and potentially transform process and products.
A data-driven company that makes data available to every employee will allow them to use it to make better decisions, faster. Leaders can communicate and motivate action, juniors are empowered and the business gains an advantage.
There are four steps that need to be taken toward becoming a data-driven business:
- Collect data at every opportunity
- Democratise the data, providing relevant access to every stakeholder
- Instilling a culture of data quality across the entire organisation
- Setting objectives, measuring results and following-up on impact
The successful data-driven organisation uses data to come up with new products and services, optimise the business and improve the customer experience.
This data will, of course, need protection. The next step is to manage data security and ensure that apps and devices are designed to allow access to the full spectrum of enterprise data without compromising on security.
IT departments are challenged to accommodate enterprise mobility advancements by letting executives and employees access company resources from multiple personal and corporate devices, without increasing the potential risk of data compromise or unauthorised access. To achieve this, there are four pillars that have to be systematically addressed:
- Identity and access management
- Device and app management
- Information protection
- Behaviour-based threat analytics
BUSINESS PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENT
Through the ubiquitous availability of applications and data, the extended enterprise is enabled. This extends the value of business systems, promotes employee productivity and cuts costs.
Ensuring the enterprise undertakes robust and reliable steps towards an agile and dynamic mobile strategy will equally ensure that applications and data are available to all those who need them. From management to field workers and contract-based employees – everyone’s time is used wisely and productively. It allows for the employee to work more flexibly and productively, regardless of location, and inspires greater workforce engagement. This redefined and extended enterprise mobilises legacy systems and allows for the employee to create value regardless of role or location. Not only will this deliver dividends in terms of productivity, but it will trickle down through the organisation towards the customer and the experiences they have.
The enterprise must shift focus from tasks and geographies toward providing the right tools, data and insights so their employees can work in their most productive style.
It is time to say a not so fond farewell to misplaced priorities, lost potential and poor strategic outcomes and instead welcome the insights and tools that enable people.