Organisations have had to transform and innovate to survive over the last two years. However, now when they look at their competitors, they see that everyone has innovated at about the same pace. The 7-year innovation cycle is history in today’s world – organisations need the right strategy and technologies to bring the time to market for innovations down to 1-2 years.
As they continue to innovate to stay ahead of the competition, here are 5 things organisations in India should keep in mind:
- The drivers of innovation will shift rapidly and industry trends need to be monitored continually to adapt to these shifts.
- Their biggest challenge in deploying Data & AI solutions will be identification of the right data for the right purpose – this will require a robust data architecture.
- While customer experience gives them immediate and tangible benefits, employee experience is almost equally – if not more – important.
- Cloud investments have helped build distributed enterprises – but streamlining investments needs a lot of focus now.
- There is a misalignment between organisations’ overall awareness of growing cyber threats and risks and their responses to them. A new cyber approach is urgently needed.
More insights into the India tech market are below.
Click here to download The Future of the Digital Enterprise – Southeast Asia as a PDF
Businesses in Australia have come a long way over the past few years in digitising their processes and capabilities. In early 2020 – as the pandemic swept across the globe – nearly every business began to understand the challenges that lay ahead in digitising their organisation to meet the needs of fully remote employees and customers. Teams all across the business started to plug holes, reshape processes and deploy new technology capabilities to quickly meet these changing needs. This work continued over the next few years to the point now that most businesses in Australia have fully digital front-ends.
But as businesses move to “COVID normal” they are looking to the next opportunity. Digitising existing processes isn’t enough – they are starting to accelerate their innovation to create entirely new digitally native products and services. Growth by selling more of what they make is being replaced by a desire to grow into new markets, new products and new services. Business innovation has leapt back onto the agenda – and the ability to innovate at pace will define success in this new era.
Improving IT Operations is a Major Priority for Tech Leaders in Australia
At the same time, technology leaders and their teams are dealing with technical debt and process complexity brought on by two years of accelerated and unplanned technology implementations. There is an urgent need to modernise IT Operations to better manage the growing number and complexity of digital systems. With the increasing importance of digital services to business, the Service Management and Tech Operations functions need increased investment, better processes, and greater automation to find and fix technology issues to minimise the impact of these issues on customer and employee outages.
The Skills Crisis is Real – and Not Going Away Soon
The challenge today is to drive this important change while faced with the tech skills shortage. IT has not been spared the struggles that come with a low unemployment market – but often many of the Employee Experience initiatives designed to improve employee retention and loyalty are not designed with the tech team in mind. The demand for tech skills is from the lowest to the highest levels – from level 1 helpdesk operators to security, coding, cloud, and system management professionals – tech leaders are finding it very difficult to find and keep good staff.
Hybrid Cloud is Gaining Traction in Australia
As tech leaders design the technology team and architecture that will help to drive their business forward and enable the agile, innovative future that the business leaders imagine, it is becoming clear that the hybrid cloud will play an increasingly important role in this future. While the drive to public cloud is real – there is an increasing recognition that some applications will remain in private cloud environments and therefore they need to manage a multi-cloud world. Australian businesses have embraced hybrid cloud management platforms to manage their many cloud investments – both public and private – and help the business deliver new digital services at pace.
Tech Leaders Need to Perform a Balancing Act
The need to deploy new digital services, continuously improve them, make them always available, ensure they are running in the best environment, deliver automation and AI initiatives using great data – while finding and keeping the skills the tech team needs – are the real challenges that IT leaders face today. Finding the right balance between investment, automation, skills, governance, security, speed and agility (amongst many other factors) is the never-ending job of the CIO – it is just more crucial than ever that they get this right, as the ability of the business to survive and thrive in this new era of innovation and agility is at stake.
In comparison to the golden days of the second half of the 20th century, the last two decades have been hard hit. The fragility of globalisation and that prosperous economic model so beautifully enabled by a 70-year technology revolution, have tested business continuity and disaster recovery plans like never before.
During this time the global community has lurched through tech and property driven financial crisis. It has endured endemic terrorism, and a crippling pandemic. And it has been fragmented by the existential threats of energy and climate, world order dislocation, and challenges to once unshakable fiat money. The wonderfully efficient business models and supply chains enabled by W. Edwards Deming following World War II are fractured and broken. Despite all these challenges, the desire for a hopeful return to a golden age of global prosperity is clearly evident. Just maybe not as we know it.
The period between W. Edwards Deming and Dotcom (let’s say 1950-2000) ushered in ERP and the modern software revolution. Over decades, highly refined processes and perfected workflows shifted from paper and clipboards into mainframe environments – from conveyor belts to computing and from ledgers to LANs.
In the progression to slightly less monolithic server-based business applications, millions of lines of customised code are transferred into configurable data fields, coupled with ready-made workflow connections, and processes based on standards set by leading companies and their representative bodies. The standardisation of business systems lowered the entry point for new enterprises, spawned new industries, and ultimately allowed SaaS to proliferate.
ERP was a true revolution in automating process and quality management systems and building the modern world. Cloud was then a transformation for ERP. It was an innovation on an original idea, but it wasn’t the next revolution. In many ways, by standardising business systems, we went too far. The vendor market over-estimated what configuration over customisation could achieve and ultimately set unachievable expectations in relation to client outcomes. On the client side, end-user organisations seized on vanilla processes and workflows and got lazy about working out solutions to their own problems. In chasing out-of-the-box software they sought to expedite, and even outsource, the hard work. In doing so, the core driver of 20th century post war economic prosperity was forgotten.
In business transformations there are no short cuts to results
One of the defining social drivers of the 21st century is a move towards the concept of individualism. We see it everywhere. In the transformation of traditional marriage, family, and identity structures. In the migration away from the concept of houses and homes, in the rise of the gig economy, and even in the regulatory schemes of government, financial and insurance services. The individual sits at the centre of new globalisation economic design and is giving rise to the next business systems revolution. At ServiceNow Knowledge 2022 I was fortunate to hear Dr Catriona Wallace and the Hon Victor Dominello MP discuss it in the context of their recent research. Dr Wallace described the trend as, “know me and care about me”, and discussed the requirements to operate within a world of both hyper-personalisation and ethical restraint.
This time however the business systems revolution to support this change is not being driven by process efficiencies and quality management, though they remain important tools. It is being driven by the pursuit of Experiential Excellence. You’ve heard it many times before and once you’ve seen it you can’t unsee it – Customer Experience, Employee Experience, Digital Experience. These are all ambitions of populist organisational and service transformation agendas with Experiential Excellence at their core.
For business and technology leaders it requires a mental shift. Traditional ERP alone will not get us there. It means a new business systems methodology is required to accompany, and reflect the challenges of the modern world, not one created more than 70 years ago.
An Experiential Excellence platform isn’t just a new ERP. It’s a new type of system capable of operating at speed and with breakthrough power; but it is also capable of breaking the intellectual shackles of pre-configuration to help organisations recapture the essence of what Deming started so long ago and we somehow lost along the way: The ability to think about and solve any kind of complex, innovative and multi-objective, multi-stakeholder problem. And I think that ServiceNow, and the Now Platform, is the first company (and business system) to do it.
The sense of something special was clearly evident among ServiceNow staff and partners, at the event. But I don’t think they have yet nailed the messaging. And the reason is because there is still such a strong gravitational pull towards the old ERP model among end-user clients. This reinforces a need for ServiceNow to still define itself by the last 50 years of system technology rather than the next 50.
That needs to change. So, next time when a client asks, is ServiceNow an ERP or is it an RPA platform or something else, the answer is – it is neither, and both, and all, and sometimes at the same time. This wonderful superposition, the same quantum computing characteristic that allows a particle to be one thing, or either, or both, all at the same time, is the very essence of their opportunity – should they wish to take it.
To be a leader in the new quantum age of computing will mean taking the brave step of unshackling themselves from the 20th century view of ERP and lead the redefinition of business systems for the quantum age. Let the revolution begin.
HR has the biggest role to play in shaping the employee experience that an organisation provides – and it cannot achieve this without a close alliance with the Tech/Digital Team. While this synergy is missing in most organisations, HR teams need to step up by listening to what their employees are saying. Having an understanding of how perspectives change based on employees’ demographic profiles, can help HR teams immensely.
The role of HR has evolved
The corporate challenge of managing skills shortages, employer of choice strategies, and flexible work programs have long existed. It’s just that, like most strategic imperatives, they have been optional, even for the most competitive businesses.
The Ecosystm Voice of the Employee Study highlights that the current resignation pandemic is supercharging a skills famine for many firms. But with almost all attention from the Great Resignation still focused on employee experience (EX), deep consideration must be given to efficiently and effectively navigating the extreme workload now facing internal HR functions.
Recruiting, inducting, onboarding, training, and cross-boarding new staff, while exiting and off-boarding old staff, often remotely and at high volume, will see shadow-HR technologies and practices bleed out of People and Capability departments as companies scramble to reset demand.
Regardless of industry, every company’s core business just became HR!
The need for Personalised Employee Experience
The industry has been talking about the need to create personalised customer experience (CX) for a while now – we should talk about creating personalised EX now.
Given the changes and challenges that your employees have faced over the last two years, they have developed some strong work preferences. HR has the biggest role to play in shaping the EX your organisation provides – and it cannot achieve this without a close alliance with the Tech/Digital Team.
According to the Ecosystm Voice of Employee Study, 50% of your employees believe that improved EX leads to better CX.
It may not be possible to cater to the needs of every individual employee. But taking into consideration some of the differences – whether based on role, age, gender, family status and so many other factors that make up an individual – will help you shape your organisation’s Digital Workplace strategy and offer a more personalised EX.
Here are 5 gender differences in workplace behaviour according to the Ecosystm Voice of the Employee Study.
- Women are more likely to change jobs in 2022
- The assumption that women prefer to work from home is wrong
- More men prefer 5-Day work weeks
- The challenges of working from home might be very different
- Women and men have different collaboration styles
Read on for more insights.
Download “The Future of the Digital Workplace: The HR Perspective” slides as a PDF
At Ecosystm we pride ourselves in keeping a finger on the pulse of the market. There is a lot of buzz around the ‘Digital Workplace’. For the last two years you have focused on technologies that allow employees to work from home – or from anywhere they choose to. Now the focus of the tech investments is on empowering employees to return to the physical office and creating a true hybrid workplace.
As you define the work model that works for your organisation, now is the time to listen to your employees. The newly launched Ecosystm Voice of the Employee Study aims to do just that.
The study aims to explore the emerging global Future of Work trends from an employee’s point-of-view. In an environment of uncertainty, this is designed to be an ongoing, dynamic study that will be able to track the major shifts in preferences, perceptions, and practices over the year.
Here are some key findings from the ongoing study.
- 2022 will be another year of flux – The Great Resignation may well impact you.
- You may not be giving enough choices to your employees
- It is time to get your workplace ready – and embrace a hybrid work model
- Your employees are more tech-savvy than even before
- Employee Experience will have to remain a priority
Read on to find more about the study findings.
Click here to download the Future of the Digital Workplace as a PDF
It is an incredible time of change for the city and regional governments where every strategic activity – especially in these globally challenging times – presents a significant opportunity for transformation. To continue to meet the changing needs of the communities they serve, every modern city government’s technology story is a work in progress. While this is the mantra for successful continuous improvement it also describes the best strategic approach for how municipalities should manage their corporate application replacement programs.
Unfortunately, significant systems upgrade and replacement programs are regularly approached as complex, multi-tasking activities that have a hard start, a defined program, and a date-stamped end. In taking this traditional project implementation approach, intuitively, many organisations believe that doing as much as possible, in as quick a time as possible, ultimately helps to achieve twice as much within the same time. The result is more likely to be half as much, and at lower levels of quality and enjoyment for all involved. This manifests as project scope creep and budget overruns.
Aside from these big bang approaches, thanks to large implementation costs and stringent regulatory oversight, local governments are also forced to think upfront about the potential future value created by a significant core system technology change. The pressure of moving at high speed, and with a dominant technology focus, can obscure both the true organisational cost and ultimate value of the program. This mentality prevails even when it is acknowledged that activities associated with a transformation program will eventually usher in a period of significant change – that is not limited to the changing core corporate applications environment itself.
The 4-Part ERP Transformation Trap is All Too Common in City Government
An over-reliance on technology to deliver business transformation outcomes. Local governments everywhere continue to pursue strategic plans that are either wholly defined or implicitly reliant on world-class customer experience (CX), employee experience (EX), and digital transformation (DX) capabilities. Despite these being business-oriented strategies, organisations then pursue an over-reliance on technology – usually winner-take-all ERP led procurements – to achieve them.
Choosing an industry solution focused on the wrong business model. The chance of achieving these digital transformation outcomes is further obscured when the customer is not central to the data model. The core corporate application technology underpinning the sector’s leading ERP programs is largely based on a property-centric model – where the customer is a subordinate attribute of a property, and the property asset defines the business process and individual. It is a challenge for any council to deliver contemporary customer-first digital transformation with a property-centric approach. To realise customer and employee-centric outcomes, councils must therefore rethink their project’s business methodology and ask themselves, “what is our primary focus here?”. This is never more important than when replacing legacy systems.
Inability to realise that a winner-take-all ERP solution is not an architectural choice. ERP is important but it is not everything. The traditional council ERP is just one important part of an overall capability that allows authorities to longitudinally manage the impacts and opportunities of change across their organisation, communities, and stakeholder ecosystems. Having chosen a sector specific ERP solution, city governments realise too late that no single technology vendor has a best-of-breed solution to achieve the desired DX outcomes. That requires a more sophisticated architectural approach.
Failure to acknowledge there is no finish line to transformation. Like many worthwhile activities, the prize in DX is in the journey, not in the cup. While there can be an end to “project scope”, there should be no “end point” for an ERP transformation program. Only once these challenges are acknowledged and accepted, can transformation be assimilated into the organisation to ensure the council is technically capable of delivering the implicit outcome for the organisation. This could simply be defined as ‘a contemporary business approach to managing the money, the assets, the community, the customers, and the staff of regional government.’
A Better Way: Re-Architecting for Project Success
Where opportunities to meet increasing CX and EX demands arise, especially through ERP and corporate application renewal programs, successful projects in contemporary councils require a service-oriented architecture not found in contemporary or legacy ERP systems alone.
Beyond the property-centric challenges already outlined, even contemporary systems and suppliers can be among the least flexible to the changing data management requirements of many organisations which call for significantly more robust data, integration and application friendly infrastructure management environments.
Customer centricity, data management, integration and software infrastructure capabilities must take precedent over an aging view of single-vendor dominance in the city government sector, especially in middle- and back-office functions, which are typically void of true differentiation opportunities and prone to confining organisations to technology-led and locked projects.
Rather than tendering for a single software provider or platform, contemporary city governments must ditch the old approach to procuring a winning ERP vendor and take steps to establish the following Big 5 platform capabilities (Figure 1). And then foster the contemporary workforce to support them.
For several decades now many organisations have attempted to short-circuit the city government ERP challenge. Fundamentally, technology transformation is not possible without technology change. A non-negotiable part of that change is a shift away from the psychology of brand-based procurement towards a new architectural approach which, like all businesses, is adaptable to change over a long period of time.
The first impact of the pandemic and the disruption it caused, was organisations scrambling to empower their remote employees. Over the last 2 years, significant investments have been made on collaboration platforms and tools. Now organisations are having to work towards making these workplaces truly hybrid where organisations have to ensure that all employees get the same experience, irrespective of where they choose to work from.
In 2022, organisations will continue to invest in building the Digital Workplace and address the associated technology, people, and process challenges.
Read on to find out what Ecosystm Analysts, Audrey William, Tim Sheedy and Venu Reddy think will be the key trends for the Digital Workplace in 2022.
Click here to download Ecosystm Predicts: The Top 5 Trends for the Digital Workplace in 2022 as PDF
COVID-19 has been a major disruption for people-intensive industries and the BPO sector is no exception. However, some of the forward-looking BPO organisations are using this disruption as an opportunity to re-evaluate how they do business and how they can make themselves resilient and future-proof. In many of these conversations, technology and process reengineering are emerging as the two common themes in their journey to transform into a New Age BPO provider.
In 2022 BPO providers will focus on mitigating their key challenges around handling client expectations, better people management and investing in the right technologies for their own transformation journeys.
Read on to find out what Ecosystm Advisors Audrey William and Venu Reddy think will be the key trends for the New Age BPO in 2022.
Click here to download Ecosystm Predicts: The Top 5 Trends for the New Age BPO in 2022 as PDF
Agents are the biggest assets in a contact centre and agent attrition is not a new challenge – 40% of contact centres globally state that high staff turnover is one of the challenges of driving consistent customer experience (CX). The ability to find the right talent has been equally challenging. The pandemic and the hybrid work model have made it harder to manage the onboarding, training, and the other processes required to get the agent up to speed on the job. Despite the challenges contact centres need a strong focus on managing the experience for the agents – they are a company’s front-line staff and the experience they deliver to the customers has an immense impact on the brand.
Workforce Experience Management (WEM) tools have gone beyond just scheduling – they are now able to leverage data and analytics to allow agents more control over their performance and their work preferences. Additionally, Agent Assist and knowledge management solutions give contact centre agents dynamic access to intelligent data. Ecosystm research shows that contact centres across the globe are ramping up their investments in employee experience (EX) technologies (Figure 1). They are focused on simplifying agent workload and offering more flexibility.
How do you elevate the Agent Experience in the Hybrid Work Model?
- Encourage shift bidding. Build flexible scheduling and shift bidding into the company culture. Agents should be encouraged to work on a schedule that works best for them. If you are employing part-timers, retirees or you have agents working from home, you have to factor in their home commitments. Additionally allowing them to bid and openly talk to their managers and colleagues about swapping shifts demonstrates a company culture of open communication and collaboration. So, in essence, this is not a scheduling conversation, but an image-building exercise. You will be able to attract more talent, in an industry where it is hard to retain talent.
- Evaluate your agents’ strengths in voice and self-service channels. Not all agents are good with voice calls and this can sometimes be overlooked by contact centre leaders. Your organisation’s brand image depends on the customer care your employees provide. Voice calls are still important; despite the increase in the adoption of AI and automation, the human touch remains critical. It is important for agents to be as authentic as possible on calls. Assigning the right agent to the right channel, keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses will help your organisation to maintain the human touch. For example, some agents may be able to multitask well and are better prepared to manage multiple channels simultaneously.
- Your knowledge system is critical. Make sure it is relevant and not outdated! Your agents have limited time on their hands. They often need information urgently, especially when dealing with a difficult customer. An updated knowledge system allows your agents to be consistent in their messages and their delivery. This helps agents to meet the AHT, FCR and other metrics and reduces human errors. Nearly 60% of contact centres globally rate improving knowledge management systems as a CX priority. There is still a lot of data inconsistency and irrelevance which needs to be worked through. An accurate and updated knowledge management system is critical, and it should be ONE source of truth. For compliance reasons, data consistency is critical. Also, the search for the information must be easy and only relevant articles and information should be pushed to live agents. The need to access multiple knowledge systems and CRM tools creates additional stress on agents.
- Give your agents access to call recordings. When your agents have access to the call recordings, they can evaluate how they have performed; and reflect and improve on the outcomes at their own pace. This will also allow them to spot the mistakes they are making, often prompting them to reach out to their manager and/or colleagues for help on how to avoid them. Often managers have access to sentiment analysis applications to spot issues from the tones of the agents and the customers. This can be useful in situations where the agent might have provided the right answers, but the customer is not fully satisfied. Giving equal access to the agents empowers them to find ways of improving the CX they deliver.
- Invest in advanced technologies around forecasting and scheduling. AI and self-adjusting algorithms are important for accurate and real-time forecasts. It is challenging to sometimes predict the volume of voice and non-voice transactions in a day. API-based tools can integrate data from different sources such as web chat, social media, voice, and workforce experience management solutions for an accurate view of the workload, including wait times. The analytics should be able to alert you of potential gaps before the resource shortfall, allowing you to plan your staffing requirements better.
The hybrid work model has its challenges for the contact centre industry. The ability of agents to walk up to their supervisors or raise their hands when they have an issue has been impacted. While it is important to focus on how agents will perform their jobs remotely, it is equally important to evaluate the overall experience including training, scheduling and forecasting workload. AI and automation, WEM and knowledge solutions can help reduce confusion and ease the workload for the agents. An integrated EX platform that uses a single dashboard will be most beneficial for agents to navigate for information. What is important is to have a new approach to managing EX. This will help your organisation immensely in attracting and retaining talent.