At Vlocity, Mark leads the company’s global Customer Strategy team, focused on helping enterprises define their digital strategies and realize maximum value from digital technology investments. With more than two decades of CRM experience, Mark has helped hundreds of customers transform their business with innovative, customer-centric approaches that incorporate the latest digital trends and technologies. Prior to Vlocity, Mark was Vice President & Head of Global Value Services at Oracle. He has also held leadership positions at Siebel Systems, iXL Enterprises (now part of SapientRazorfish), and AT&T.
Business Benefit #7 of 7 – Employee Enrichment
Welcome back to The 7 Business Benefits of Digital Transformation blog series.
We have explored a wide variety of business benefits and business strategies relating to digital transformation – from marketing, sales and service processes in the front office, to customer loyalty, outstanding operations and the modernization of IT. But I wanted to save perhaps the most profound benefit of digital transformation for last – Employee Enrichment. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, famously said “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” At the end of the day, it is a company’s employees who define customer engagement and customer experience. So Employee Enrichment should be a primary strategy for any business.
There is a lot of talk today about how robots and developing AI technology will completely disrupt the established workforce in the coming years, displacing the majority of good paying jobs being performed by humans today. Indeed, the forces of automation will continue to march forward, eliminating many tasks previously performed by humans. However, this trend might ultimately lead to a new age of enlightenment for the workforce, where the concept of work shifts away from process and repetition to inspired action and human fulfillment.
Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.
– Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group
Digital technology will be the prime catalyst for this change. It starts with where work gets performed, the tools available to do great things and, ultimately, leads to a new sense of vocational self-actualization. Here then are the three key components of digitally enabled Employee Enrichment:
- Virtual workspace
- Modern tools
- Self-actualization at work
Virtual Workspace - Perhaps the most obvious change we have seen with regard to work in the digital age is not the how of work but the where. It wasn’t too long ago that one had to go to a physical office to gain access to company systems and information and interact with colleagues. But today, the virtual workspace allows employees to be productive just about anywhere. A Gallup poll found that 37 percent of American workers have worked remotely in their careers, a four-fold increase since 1995. This growing trend has been driven by advances in digitally enabled communications and collaborative tools such as Google Drive for shared documents and cloud-based apps like Salesforce Chatter that break down organizational boundaries and fuel engagement.
Today, providing this level of work flexibility drives a range of business benefits. Reduced costs for office space, equipment and furniture are obvious benefits, but the value extends well beyond these savings. A study by Stanford University found that remote employees were 13 percent more productive than their office-bound counterparts. Moreover, despite attempts at office space redesign over the last couple decades, many contemporary offices favor an open architectural layout conducive to the work habits of extroverts but less appreciated by the many introverts whose work excels in more private environments. With the freedom to work where you want, the virtual workspace renders this issue obsolete while adding personalization to the employee experience. And finally, the notion of the digitally enabled remote worker has also become a critically important benefit to attract and retain employees. This same Stanford study found home-based workers were more satisfied and less inclined to leave, which results in lower talent acquisition and training costs.
Modern Tools - Millennials—identified as the generation born after 1982— now represent the largest segment of the workforce. Much has been written and studied about this group, but there are two important considerations regarding the millennial generation that require enterprises to take note. The first consideration relates to millennials’ use of technology. As “digital natives,” millennials have led the way in adopting new forms of communication and information access. Over the years, consumer technology companies have delivered amazing new services that provide intuitive, instant access to information and services. These same expectations are now firmly planted in the workplace. The new generation of employees will simply not tolerate slow, outdated tools with which to perform their work. The digital fluency that informs their everyday lives also demands an employee experience that is simple, seamless, intuitive and productive.
In the race to attract and retain talent, out-dated computer interfaces have become a flashpoint issue.
In the race to attract and retain talent, outdated computer interfaces have become a flashpoint issue. Not only are these legacy systems a major source of customer frustration (and attrition), but they represent real costs to a business that must constantly hire and train new employees. This leads to another key consideration for millennial employees – the majority are willing to switch jobs if a company is not meeting their needs. Globally, 67 percent of millennials are expected to change jobs by 2020. Replacing lost employees costs 21 percent of base pay on average – not to mention the loss of experience and the incremental costs of new hire training. These costs are especially impactful in job segments such as customer service and operations, where turnover is already high.
Vlocity is at the forefront of bringing modern, digital tools to an ever-increasing number of enterprises. We have customers who have improved their employee Net Promoter Score (NPS) by more than 40 percent after deploying new agent consoles in the contact center. But the most rewarding part of measuring employee satisfaction with Vlocity is reading the verbatims we regularly get from front-line employees using our tools.
Some of the key design considerations critical to deploying modern, digital tools for employees include:
- Ensuring a guided flow to execute transactions and letting the user know precisely where they are in the process
- Integrating key data sources, and bringing this information to employees in a rapid, contextual way (in other words, don’t force employees to go to multiple data sources, don’t make them wait, and don’t make them re-key information)
- Allowing employees to do their work anywhere and on any device
- Emphasizing data visualization to provide rapid insight
Digital leaders put human experience at the center of decision-making, and this thinking must be reflected for both customers and the employees who serve them.
Self-actualization at work – Research from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) suggests that 60 percent of all occupations could have at least 30 percent of their activities automated by using technologies available today. As the cost of automation declines and the innovations in robotics and artificial intelligence increase, we will continue to see a migration of tasks from human to machine.
Make no mistake about it, automation threatens the status quo of employment. The World Economic Forum projects that 7.1 million jobs will be lost to redundancy, automation and disintermediation in the coming years, two-thirds of which are concentrated in the Office and Administrative job family. However, savvy companies seeking to leverage new technologies and human value are taking a more proactive and thoughtful approach to automation, focusing on building the skills needed for success in the digital age. Vlocity Global Strategic Partner Accenture, for example, eliminated 17,000 back-office roles in the last 18 months through automation, but nobody actually lost their job. Instead, the company found that by reducing menial, repetitive and mundane tasks, employees were actually freed up to pursue more productive, higher-value work. In parallel, the company also provided new IT training to 72,000 employees to help keep pace with a rapidly changing technology environment. As we can see, lower-value tasks were indeed replaced by digital automation, but employees were then liberated to assume new, higher-value duties. The benefit was two-fold: It provided the employees with a more enriching, human-centered work experience, while also revitalizing the company workforce via a newly minted set of IT skills necessary for success in the digital age.
Research from the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that 60% of all occupations could have at least 30% of their activities automated by using technologies available today.
The promise of digital transformation for the employee is creating an environment where workers can start acting less like, well, robots, and more like humans. In the coming years, roles will migrate towards those activities that are uniquely human, such as creative design and expression, social interaction and empathy. For example, a chatbot will have a hard time replacing an empathetic, informed and efficient claims agent as she assists a frightened and confused policyholder who’s just had a car accident. In an age of rampant digital disruption, these types of customer experiences will continue to determine a company’s competence, relevance and success. After all, brand maintenance and consumer trust have always been as much about who you are as a company as it is what you make or deliver. This remains true in the digital age.
And this brings us to the end of our blog series – The 7 Business Benefits of Digital Transformation.
While we attempted to structure the business benefits of digital transformation into seven broad areas, the reality is that the value of digital – like digital itself – is boundless. And I get the sense that the most profound impacts of digital technology have yet to materialize. Until the next digital disruption emerges, I encourage everyone to focus their future digital efforts on what we have learned from current digital leaders.
- Put human experience at the center of decision-making, focusing on automation, mobile-first, omnichannel and socially connected experiences
- Innovate rapidly—speed matters in the digital world, iterate and succeed quickly (and fail fast, too)
- Understand, nurture and invest in digital as a competitive advantage by aligning the executive team and investing in skill sets, processes and technology
Thank you for joining me on this journey. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much as I enjoyed exploring the many facets of digital transformation. I would particularly like to thank Ethan Duff, Vlocity Global Creative Director, for the awesome graphical support and blog distribution, and David Insley, who served as my ongoing collaborator for research, ideas, and writing.