How are forward looking businesses adapting to a rapidly changing world?
In a changing economy, investing in new technology and a focus on improving both staff and customer user experience are key to business success, a survey by consulting firm Forrester finds.
For their 2015 Global Business Technographics Telecommunications And Mobility Workforce Survey, Forrester consulting questioned 7,238 information workers to find what was driving IT decision making in companies around the world.
Survey respondents came from around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, China, France, Germany, India, the UK and the US. Each of the respondents’ companies having at least two employees.
Forrester discovered in the findings how staff and customers’ demands are merging along with the importance of worker mobility and how user experience is driving change in the enterprise.
User experience matters
Business and technology decision-makers ranked improving customer experience as their highest priority in 2015, reflecting how technology is disrupting most industries.
From the survey Forrester’s researchers drew the conclusion technology led disruption makes IT a vital asset, but cautions management have to prioritise and identify which business initiatives are most important and provide the most benefit.
Another aspect flagged by the researchers was companies have to pay more attention to the user experience for employees using internal services as this is the key to better customer service and improved productivity.
Nearly two thirds of the IT decision makers surveyed by Forrester expect a high or critical priority for their firm in 2016 and will be rolling out new mobile-based products and services. While the initial effort will be in deploying mobile apps for customer-facing employees, leaders will enable more employees with mobile apps designed to improve operational tasks.
Many companies are already enabling mobile applications for their customer-facing employees in areas such as sales, marketing and service desks with Forrester’s research showing successes for those businesses.
Staff using between six and ten company specific mobile apps are more likely to agree that employees are happy to work at their company, Forrester claims, and 20 percentage points more likely to agree that their customers are satisfied compared with their counterparts who use fewer or no company-specific apps.
Bring Your Own Device programs
Working with the technology they choose are expectations for a growing segment of the workforce, particularly younger workers and Millennials who already consider this the norm. Most organisations are already moving to flexible work and Bring Your Own Device programs which continue to evolve. Ultimately, Forrester warns, the risk of losing good talent will drive firms to press on with expanding their BYOD policies.
The shift to BYOD ties into the mobile workplace trend. Forrester found the percentage of information workers working away from the office at least a few times a month — whether it be from home or while traveling or commuting — is up more than 60% in just three years.
Increasingly motivated employees are demanding to use their own devices with those who claim they put a lot of time and energy into their careers being almost three times more willing to contribute their own money to use a work tablet they choose.
Many staff who are office bound also believe they would be better at their job or more productive if they worked from home, Forrester also found with modern office design making it hard to concentrate.
Respondents told Forrester it’s harder to concentrate in modern office environments where everyone sits at low cubicles or long tables together so increasingly working from home or at a remote location becomes desirable.
The Forrester survey notes Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) platforms and modern software-as-a-service applications make it easier for firms to separate work and personal data, so the technology is finally good enough to allow flexible workstyles and BYOD safely, however technology won’t fix a culture and collaboration problem.
Overcoming the cultural barriers
For many businesses the culture of management remains a barrier to adopting new technologies and practices. Organisations based on traditional lines where matters like compensation plans and stack ranking which force employees to compete with each other for status and pay in are going to find it increasingly difficult to attract workers.
Another challenge for companies is dealing with overburdened employees where technology coupled with a people-centric strategy can help improve morale and boost productivity.
These traditional mindsets will also work against businesses as collaborative technologies and agile management practices are increasingly adopted by industry leaders.
Cloud boosting flexibility
Forrester’s researchers expect cloud technologies to continue their march into workspaces grow quickly to close the flexibility gap with nearly two thirds of respondents looking at implementing or expanding the use of virtualisation technologies as a high or critical priority.
Developing virtualisation technologies in-house is expensive and Forrester predicts firms will start look toward new cloud workspace technologies that tie into both desktop computers and mobile device based applications.
Embracing new technologies
Implementing new platforms such as Microsoft Windows 10 will be a major task for IT pros in 2016, but smart companies will use these upgrade programs as an opportunity to embrace BYO as they look to further transform the workplace with leading-edge wearables and business automation to enhance employee productivity.
Robots and wearables will start to make their impact felt in 2016, Forrester believes and the largest result of these technologies will be job transformation. In the longer term, humans will find themselves working side by side with robots and using wearables to improve their job performance.
Tech leaders will be at the forefront of efforts to choose, pilot, implement, and evaluate these technologies and to make sure these technologies don’t merely cut costs but drive customer value.
One important task facing IT managers within enterprises will be garnering the support of other business units. Forrester sees building a coalition of leaders within the businesses, such as HR to help with change management, to help drive change within an organisation.
Ultimately Forrester’s researchers believe investing in new technology and a focus on improving both staff and customer user experience is key to success for businesses in the changing economy.