Businesses have been digitally transforming for a long time, when they deployed mainframes, then desktops, laptops and Blackberries (for secure communication). Then the launch of the iPhone and the forces of BYOD led eventually to many employees working in an office or remotely use their smartphone for work tasks beyond just voice communication.
The deployment of such digital technologies and tools doesn’t mean that a business is transformed yet, as most of them have been applied to existing processes mainly to bring efficiencies. The digitisation of paper forms has not changed what was on the paper, only made it electronically recorded and shared, and it has not changed the business, only improved the use of time and people.
A real business transformation through digital is when new ways of doing things become possible and are implemented: a new methodology to design a product, or to deliver a service, find customers in parts of the world you never even thought of, or engage your employees in a different way never done before.
On this last point, we have seen how our customers have truly transformed their business in introducing new approaches to employee engagement and performance, using an internal communication mobile app that we helped them develop.
Since digital transformation is more about the processes that create, enable, manage, and deliver them, than digital products, we always devise with our customers new ways of using the power of the mobile app, available in every employee’s hand via their smartphone, to unlock the potential that every person has to relate and engage more to a group as they feel fully included in it.
This is what United Utilities Group plc – the UK’s largest listed water company – was able to do with an app we helped them build. United Utilities has close to 5,500 employees, most of whom are remote workers, and a large proportion of them work in the contact centre, so by definition are time constrained and don’t have a lot of time to look at the intranet. A few months after launch of the mobile app we helped build, analytics confirmed that staff at remote sites were regular users and that most employees were accessing the app before or after work, or even at weekends.
The app is intended to sit well alongside the corporate intranet by offering a streamlined mobile portal for content that is pertinent to employees’ daily jobs, but it also goes further in its relevance to their life, as it includes a noticeboard where every app user can buy and sell household goods, event tickets, or even cars.
Also the app is a good tool to keep employees on maternity/paternity leave in the loop, as one staff commented: “I think it will be great to keep up to date with company news when I am on maternity leave!”
New technologies can help you change how to design and deliver work processes and communication with employees. What is essential is that technologies and their related tools make you think and act differently, for your business to survive in an ever-increasingly complex and diverse society.