Anton Cabral
The extent to which a company benefits from a digitally transformed workplace depends on how well its people accept and use technology. Surprisingly, the solution to this human challenge is also digital – platforms that drive user experience underpinned by social cohesion and aligned to the organisation’s cultural values and behaviours.

 

That the digital future is already upon us is clear. What is less clear is that true digitalisation is not simply a question of the right technology – to be successful, digitalisation requires a concerted effort to make the technology useful and attractive to humans.

In this article, I want to explore this seeming paradox within the corporate context. My aim will be to uncover how to enhance employee performance by enabling traditional office environments with digital platforms.

Reversing the typical trajectory of technology adoption, workplace digitalisation is being driven by the widespread adoption of digital technologies. This widespread adoption is made possible by four key technologies, this being social, mobile, analytics and cloud, also known as the SMAC stack. Thanks to the SMAC stack, tech-savvy employees are interacting in a seamless digital environment in which work and play exist on the same continuum, typically using their own devices. In the process, they are evolving individual work styles governed by outcomes rather than time spent at work.

Corporates support this trend, attracted by the significant productivity gains yielded by outcomes-based working styles. They also benefit from significant real estate savings as a mobile, anytime or anywhere workforce needs less expensive corporate office space.

Don’t ignore the human dimension

In practice, though, the digitalisation of both social and corporate life must be carefully managed. While individual employees are much freer to set their own work styles and can be more productive, the danger is that workforces become more fragmented and disconnected. Teams become virtual and more task-based, rather than permanent; while digital platforms can facilitate collaboration, they may do so at the expense of human relationships, team sociability or trust.

In addition, it is difficult to manage a workforce that increasingly defines itself by current project rather than membership of the corporate entity. Employees need to be guided as to how to use digital connectedness not just as a practical tool but also as a way to build relationships with colleagues and keep institutional memory alive.

The ongoing woes suffered by many of the new generation of wholly digital companies illustrate the point. Whereas traditional corporations are designed to create an integrated whole out of many people, new-look digital companies tend to position themselves purely as digital platforms on which individuals or companies transact. Such models have proved to be efficient – think Uber, Facebook or Airbnb – but the resulting disconnect between all parties can lead to cultural, social and legal issues. It seems that the messy business of accommodating humanity can never be wholly avoided.

Creating the experience platform

 

Thus, to realise technology’s benefits to the full, companies need to use it mindfully in a way that promotes employee engagement and performance. The key is to mimic how technology is used to engage customers in the way we use it to engage our employees.

We call the result a Digital Experience Platform (DXP). Carefully designed, a DXP can be used to motivate people to behave in certain ways and meet desired performance outcomes. When it comes to learning, for example, LRMG has used a DXP successfully to reskill a workforce to achieve certain goals. In one instance, for a large telco, we used a Collaboration Experience Platform (CXP) to reward those who shared the most information and responded to queries from colleagues. These rewards included points on a leader board and badges, as used in gaming.

For the same company, we used a similar model, a Learning Experience Platform (LXP), to alert call centre agents to an area in which they were consistently misdiagnosing customer issues, thus putting the company’s profits at risk. We used the LXP to alert agents to the risk and to provide the correct information. The LXP also provided a way for them to collaborate about ways to deal with the situation.

In due course, such DXPs can become a portal to the whole company, customised in a way that is relevant to a certain job and that will lead to the achievement of specified outcomes. It, therefore, becomes a way for an individual to access the vast stores of features and data provided by the underlying enterprise systems, but in a way that provides a great user experience.

In other words, adding the experience dimension through a DXP puts a human face on digitalisation, and the digital corporate environment takes its place on the same continuum as employees’ private lives. Well-designed DXPs can be used in myriad ways to create automated workflows that are human-centred and thus promote engagement, rather than forcing compliance. Thus, technology’s ability to streamline business processes enable automation and saved costs are complemented by enhanced employee engagement, stronger trust between colleagues, information sharing and, ultimately, a stronger corporate entity.

Successful digitalisation is, therefore, only achieved through humanising technology.


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