Enterprises are transforming themselves into the Digital Enterprise. The drivers behind the move to Digital are enhanced customer experience, operational excellence, new business models, innovations in business processes, and greater employee engagement. Technologies such as Social, Mobile, Analytics/Big Data, Wearables, and Cloud are the enablers behind going Digital. The Digital Experience varies for the Customer, Supplier, and Employee. This blog focuses on that for the employee.
While it is true that enterprises already have digital data due to ERP, CRM, and other such systems, there is still an enormous amount of data on paper, especially generated by the mobile worker who till now, has not had ready access to mobile devices and systems while in the Field. Mobile devices were limited to certain roles like in warehouses or sales. The proliferation of mobile devices has now created the opportunity to create a true Digital Enterprise.
I have also included some real-world customer examples to add context to the discussion.
The “Disconnected” Employee
Today, employees at a company are still struggling to connect with each other and are unable to share information seamlessly, despite all the advances in technology. Communication is still via emails for the most part, and over phone calls. Information is not shared with all team members who have a need to know. Collaboration suffers leading to sub-optimal decision making that can delay a product launch in a CPG company or endanger patient safety in a healthcare setting. This in turn also leads to a lost opportunity in providing employees with a lifelong learning experience. The “Disconnected Employee” is thus a Less Productive and less Engaged Employee. Let us examine below some of the steps one can take to overcome these limitations.
As the “Consumerization of IT” takes hold, employees expect to be able to use the same tools that they use in their personal lives to use in the workplace. Email only does not cut it anymore. So, texting including leaving voice notes becomes an important tool to communicate as does the ability to easily make video calls. Employees expect to receive alerts or notifications not just via emails—they want notifications sent to their mobile devices when an important event occurs or they need to take action.
Chat/Messaging like communication channels are becoming increasingly popular, which will have subscribers based on levels of interest. Thus, for example, employees at a manufacturing plant could subscribe to an Asset Management Channel where they could share information related to suppliers, parts failing, and tips for preventive maintenance.
In all cases, communication between employees has to be highly secure. Data that resides on mobile devices need to be encrypted, and in some industries like healthcare, communication needs to be HIPAA compliant, and protect patient health information.
Employees are demanding that they be able to collaborate across channels—be it over their desktops, Web, tablets, smartphones, or Wearables like Apple Watch. The Mobile web and mobile applications allow for the exchange of information anytime anywhere. A Field Service Worker repairing a piece of equipment on an oilfield can make a video call to an expert back at Headquarters, share images of the damage, and seek advice, so as to perform the optimal repairs. Similarly, a physician in a hospital can share lab results over a HIPAA compliant texting application using their tablets, leading to enhanced patient safety.
Mobile Dashboards are an important element of collaboration. The ability of executives to access data at their fingertips anytime enables them to make better and real-time decisions. Trending of data, and predicting possible outcomes be it in the areas of Sales or Plant Operations adds immense value and moves enterprises from a reactive to a proactive mode.
Employees add new skills and gain training throughout their careers. In many industries, they need to pass tests on a regular basis and keep certificates on record for compliance purposes. Mobile applications are a great way to ensure lifelong learning. Employees can access content from their smartphones or tablets anytime anywhere and are not tied to their desktops. Data captured about the tasks performed by an employee can be analyzed, and recommendations are made about what training is best suited for that particular employee. As an example, an electrician performing asset/equipment repairs in a Chemicals plant can be evaluated on the quality of work based on the re-work performed within 30 days. Also, the data recorded about the procedures performed by a specific worker can be used to dispatch the best workers for a particular job based on their experience.
Benefits of the Digital Experience for Employees
We present below some tangible business benefits reported publicly by two of our customers.
Kaneka is a chemicals manufacturing company based in the Houston, Texas area. They have deployed the “Digital Plant” incorporating mobile applications on iPads for Equipment Inspections, Work Orders, and Warehouse/Inventory Management. Below, we list the benefits they have realized in addition to getting rid of paper:
Asset Management/Plant Operations
- Automated the complete process –standardized process across Kaneka
- Increased compliance
- Increased safety
- Increased Rounds productivity
- Estimated to Reduce Maintenance Costs
- Increase in Safety and Compliance
- Time savings/Increase in productivity
- Reduced time and effort in Physical Inventory counting
- Reduced data admin costs due to On-demand stock information and easy and accurate material movements
- Reduced time and effort in Physical Inventory counting
- Material Issues and Returns more accurate leading to savings in time
WEL is an electric utility based in New Zealand, and they provided a digital experience for their employees by deploying mobile apps for Windows 8 tablets to perform Field Service on their equipment located across the country. Benefits reported by WEL in addition to getting rid of paper are as follows:
- Efficiency gain in inspections: more inspections are done
- Lower administrative effort: more time for other tasks
- Field technicians doing the job employed for staff retention
- Timely data capture: better information available sooner
Actual customer feedback points to the fact that the Digital Experience for the Employee increases communication, collaboration, and automation of business processes. This reduces costs and increases employee retention. Employees feel more empowered, and happier employees stay longer. In many cases, it also enhances the Digital Experience for the Customer. For example, a paperless office that may be viewed as a Digital Experience for Employees initiative can equally impact the Customer Service process. The digital data captured and analyzed can lead to tailor-made learning opportunities for an employee over their lifetime. Employees can make better and real-time decisions that bestow a competitive advantage over their employers.