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Engagement the key to productivity and digital transformation - paving the way for remarkable staff and customer experiences

Having just recently returned from Envision, Microsoft’s new business leaders’ conference, I wanted to share some ideas on the new landscape for enhancing productivity.

There is no argument that productivity is a critical success factor when it comes to staff engagement, as are the delivery of well-structured engagement pathways to support a customer experience that can truly differentiate your organisation.

As you digest my thoughts, please read the word “customer” as your customer, be it a consumer, business, student, patient, citizen etc. I would also encourage you to think about what lies at the heart of digital transformation: engagement, whether that’s with our staff or with our customers.

Take the chance to consider that your key ability to differentiate and disrupt your competitive landscape could be how you engage. Reimagining core processes and releasing staff productivity to be proactive and “outbound” in their activity could be the key to market domination. So what are the building blocks to success?

Strategic intent – Manager versus Leader thinking

Fundamentally, often a Manager focuses on doing things right versus a Leader focusing on doing the right things. During Envision I witnessed a number of examples where this theory surfaced front and centre.

Core to this Leader behaviour is a clear business mission that allows them to “enlist” their team, providing direction and a platform for change. For example, a Manager may suggest using CRM to automate and improve an existing customer service process, whereas the Leader response might be that the process is in fact broken as it was not proactive and therefore should not be automated but replaced.

It’s like waiting for inbound customers to visit to rectify process issues that your business already knew they had – why not pro-actively use this information and focus on an outbound interaction to help?

As business leaders, another trait we need to adopt is being totally mindful about the “what” (objective of change) and “why” (measurable impact for the customer and our business). The simplest example of this was a customer story from Oklahoma Thunder Basketball. They first shared their key advantage: the fact that they are trying to make fans into more diverse customers, unlike many of us who tread the harder path to convert customers to fans.

This aside, they have an ability to simply ask fans for the information to truly personalise their experience. However, the Leader mantra was really clear: If we can’t action the information we gather, don’t gather it.

In addition, their focus was using digital to allow a better face-to-face connection, not replace it “as this is the way they do things in Oklahoma”. Their advice was to be clear what you need and how it will enhance customer experience, and that in their case digital is fine but only in a supporting role to direct engagement. How mindful are you about your organisation’s foundation digital “rules of engagement”?

Ownership – the role of the individual

At the core of true ownership is great staff engagement and buy-in to the company mission, but at the end of the day we’re all human and we might well need more than this. We all need to watch just “doing” the job versus really doing the right activities.

At the end of the day most of us will never be able to do everything we want to in any given working week, so it’s vital to get the right things done! In my experience, the most successful staff simply know where to focus, but how can we help those who get lost wading through the detail?

A great example of technology enabling this individual ownership is Delve Analytics Dashboard, a tool to help us understand how we spend our time (client meetings, internal meetings, email etc), who we work with, and who we may have lost touch with, even how responsive we have been to our manager’s emails! It tracks you through your Office365 activity and provides you with valuable insight on how you spend your time.

Microsoft Delve Digital Dashboard

Another paradigm shift we have been seeing for a while is how we can “push” information to employees rather than assuming they will take time to “pull” this through. At Intergen we have been working on a modern intranet product that acts more like a social feed and simply surfaces what the enterprise wants to share, along with other threads of information based on what you are following. It will also take advantage of Delve and Machine Learning so information finds you.

The enabler – technology and information

Efficient processes and use of information lies at the heart of productivity. In our drive for digital transformation, we all need to appreciate that our own company’s digital transformation could well be addressing how things connect and flow.

Any kind of technology or information disconnect is more than likely impacting staff productivity and certainly presenting unnecessary friction in your customer journey. We’re not all going to be able to invent a new market, or disrupt with a new product, but every business can truly differentiate and disrupt with a cohesive, customer-centric engagement approach.

Let’s pick out a technology-enabled example. The Internet of Things (IoT) allows a business to monitor and capture real-time business data using the cheapest possible mechanism. The “gold” is then how you inject this information into your business to revolutionise your processes. During the keynote at Envision, work we have completed with Ecolab was profiled (see here, with the Ecolab example at 49:00). It shows how data gathered in the field using IoT could be injected in to a CRM field service process, automating case creation, allocation of a technician and communication to the customer. The benefit: not only has the customer received a significantly more proactive outbound service offering, the back office processes have been fully automated to help reduce the cost-to-serve and provide staff with ability to focus on value-add tasks.

The future – crystal ball gazing

We are already seeing the rapid emergence of a whole range of technology services that will revolutionise our world. Things like artificial intelligence (AI), your technology personal assistant (tPA) and the more recently announced Bots. A couple of industry experts at Envision shared their vision that helped me contextualise these clever technologies.

One of the big challenges for a business is to transition a customer to a “fan”, trying to capture as much information as possible about you, allowing them to personalise your experience. But we all know how hard it is to gather this personalised information, let alone the ongoing task of creating hundreds of micro-campaigns and customer journeys to demonstrate you know your customer well.

So, looking forward, how will this be easier? For one, your tPA will really get to know you and hold a wealth of personalisation information. When you use your tPA to find products and services, it will share what it knows about you to get the best result faster that you could on your own. On the other side of this exchange a business Bot will hold all the right personalisation questions and these two artificial intelligence services will interact to suggest a tailored solution for your needs. Better still, I expect they will do this without the normal constraint (your keyboard).

As well as using voice driven interaction, we should also no longer need to enter details over and over into various websites. Add a dose of Machine Learning into the process and your tPA and the Bots it interacts with will get faster and more accurate at delivering the outcome for each of us based on historic engagement with similar buyers. The only question that remains is what are we going to do with all the free time?


This blog entry is part of the series Less Busyness, More Business, featuring blog posts from leaders across Intergen. Each blog will focus on the digital transformation themes raised in our digital transformation guide and delve deeper into what digital transformation means for New Zealand organisations in specific technology areas.

Digital Transformation - Less Busyness, More Business

Posted by: Steve Scarbrough, General Manager Business Applications | 20 April 2016

Tags: Digital Transformation, Less Busyness More Business

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