Focusing on Employee Experience to Fund Digital Transformation
June 18, 2020

John DuBois
NTT DATA Services

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CIOs have long been tasked with reducing spend on run-the-business services to free up funding for new, innovative initiatives and business priorities. The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has intensified the need for companies to optimize business spend in order to free up resources to enable agility, continuity and growth.

All too frequently we see organizations with ambitious cost cutting objectives fall short of their business and employee goals. Aggressive measures taken in one silo, especially an area like IT with far reaching impact across the business, often transfer debt in the form of unforeseen expenses and unrealized revenue to other parts of the business.

For IT teams, run-the-business, commodity areas such as employee help desks, device support and communication platforms are regularly placed in the crosshairs for cost takeout, but these areas are also highly visible to employees. Applying a pure cost reduction mindset to daily activities that shape employee experience, engagement, and perception of corporate culture leads to a disengaged workforce — driving up costs through attrition, lost productivity, higher training and onboarding, as well as business interruption.

Organizations can improve employee satisfaction and business performance by building unified functions that are measured by employee experience rather than price. This approach will ultimately fund transformation, as well as increase productivity and innovation.

Engage Employees, Increase Productivity, Repeat

One of the most effective ways to drive down costs and improve top line growth is to foster an engaged workforce. When systems and processes are outdated, slow and siloed, employees get irritated and feel confined to pre-defined roles that inhibit innovation. Friction causes frustration, stunts productivity and creates barriers to engagement. Here are three ways to offset that friction:

Unify operations

Silos don't just exist across organizational boundaries. Restructuring IT so it operates and responds as a cohesive unit regardless of the situation is an important way to improve employee experience and free resources for transformation. Internal consumers of IT services shouldn't need to self-diagnose a software, hardware or network-related issue before they can reach the appropriate support team and get back to the task at hand. They simply need IT to work or better yet, anticipate their needs and proactively respond.

Adopting a consolidated set of tools and processes facilitates greater change. A streamlined technology stack, combined with analytics and automation enables you to holistically manage, monitor and optimize environments, including user sentiment. Once teams are brought together with the same technologies, goals and objectives, there is more opportunity for serendipitous innovation and business improvement.

Continuously measure and optimize

With a holistic user experience and sentiment-driven dashboard in place, organizations can prioritize user feedback and resource allocation on a continuous basis, which enables companies to retain happy, motivated and productive employees. This should include updating technology, automating repetitive, manual tasks and implementing AI in tools like chatbots that free employees' time for more meaningful work, such as critical thinking and complex problem-solving and working with customers.

For example, typically, during quarter-close or year-end the finance and sales departments have increased activity and limited time. While these departments are particularly busy, business leaders can reallocate resources to provide more IT staff, compute power, application scaling and devices to support the team and business goals. Measuring the performance across infrastructure, applications, and business processes to make real time adjustments will drive success and productivity. Monitoring and measuring results from these changes on each department will help organizations continue to improve and evolve. Using employee experience to redirect financial resources from outdated initiatives to ones that matter most for employees will also help create new funding sources that foster digital transformation and innovation.

Deliver a dynamic workplace

Employee expectations are rapidly changing, and the digital workplace must transform to meet new, unique challenges. Reallocation of resources to technology that empowers employees to work smarter and achieve more across all their devices — laptops, tablets, cell phones — allows organizations to be distributed and flexible. Employees prefer this experience because they can work where, when and how they want without compromising on productivity.

Work Smarter to Retain Top Talent and Transform Your Business

Organizations that consistently focus on cost takeout or siloed IT performance over employee experience struggle to retain talent and must continually divert resources to rebuild a reactive team, which leaves less time and money to drive innovation and transformation. An end-to-end customer and user experience approach to business not only benefits employees and promotes cost savings, but it also helps IT and business leaders optimize performance across the enterprise. When organizations drive down overall operating costs, the business can be more alert and intentional about where funding is being allocated.

Starting the conversation with an employee-centric approach to business is a powerful first step in driving digital transformation and innovation. Prioritizing employee experience and engagement, looking at IT differently, and investing in new technology and processes gives employees the power and choice to work smarter, not harder. No organization has unlimited funds, but by reallocating financial resources to foster engagement, digital transformation and innovation, organizations can optimize across their IT ecosystem to meet the demands of modern enterprise.

John DuBois is VP of Digital Operations at NTT DATA Services
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