Article first published on itweb.co.za on 3 November 2021
The real business asset is the workforce, so it’s time to digitise and optimise the people.
What defines workforce transformation? According to Deloitte, it is optimising the workforce with an understanding of workforce transformation strategies and ensuring holistic change. KPMG defines it as building a talent strategy that allows for people and business to embrace new ways of working and new technologies. PwC says it’s the power of the people, reimagined. But perhaps the best clarity comes from an article by MIT Sloan Management School – digital transformation can potentially leave out a vital component to success, the employee.
People are the real digital oil, ensuring that organisations squeeze every last drop of value from their transformation investments and achieving measurable results. The MIT Center for Information Systems Research found that companies that invest in people and their experiences are more likely to outperform the competition, delivering 19% more revenue growth and 15% more profit. Deloitte’s Workforce Ecosystems, a report unpacking findings from the Future of the Workforce Global Executive Study and Research Project, takes the concept a step further. In this report, researchers unpacked the composition of the workforce and how organisations can best transform and engage with disparate workers across multiple geographies. According to the research, around 87% of executives consider their workforce to encompass more than just their employees, considering external contributors to be a part of their team.
This asks that the organisation stop paying exclusive attention to the technology and, instead, look at how the technology forms a cohesive part of the ecosystem that comprises the various employees and people who work for the company. This means taking the workforce beyond the confines of the traditional and looking at how to blend the digital individual with the digital toolkit. This aligns with the Forrester analysis entitled ‘The CEO’s Guide to the Future of Work’, which highlights the importance of building an adaptive workforce that can succeed in spite of change, that has the ability to make better use of the tools at its disposal. As the report points out, Covid-19 ‘anointed your workforce strategy, leaders, ready or not’.
So, get ready. This is the dawn of the empowered workforce, where technology and people collide; where digital becomes increasingly accessible, transparent and functional; and where the organisation follows best practice to embed technology and collaborative functionality within the workplace, empowering people and changing how they work in the fluid and ever-evolving world of work.
Creating the digitally empowered employee.
Brainstorm: What technologies can be used to empower the workforce, and why?
Greg Gatherer, account manager, Liferay Africa: It's the ability to build a solution made up of best-of-breed applications such as BPM, ECM, CRM, ERP, and back-end database services integrated and orchestrated on a single digital experience platform that’s consumed through the endpoint of the employee’s choosing.
Pieter Oosthuizen, Verdanta [details incoming]: Digital transformation, via robotic process automation, machine learning, analytics and AI increase process efficiencies, and eliminate non-value-added process steps.
Jim Holland, regional director for Africa, Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group: Tools and solutions like edge and cloud computing, analytics and artificial intelligence, and Infrastructure-as-a-Service are imperative.
Sello Mmakau, CIO and CEO, Afrocentric Technologies, AfroCentric Group: To empower this process, all types of self-service solutions and tools such as chatbots, analytics, WhatsApp, mobile apps, portals, and so on should be embedded within the business.
Brainstorm: How can the organisation fully realise workforce potential through digital transformation?
Richard Frank, CTO, Flow Communications: It can help better distribute the workload digitally, as well as enable the workforce to work from home in the services world.
Henry Adams, country manager, InterSystems: A business must create and foster a culture that enables, encourages, and supports change.
Shyless Nkuna, Head of HR, EPPF: There’s an opportunity to upskill and reskill the workforce, create different platforms for cross collaboration beyond organisation boundaries.
Richard Firth, CEO, MIP Holdings: It can help better distribute the workload digitally, as well as enable the workforce to work from home in the services world.
Fikile Sibiya, CIO, e4: By being clear on the transformation vision and helping the workforce create a link between their work and the organisation’s strategic objectives.
Sandra Crous, MD, PaySpace: There’s no point in having access to the best tools and technology digital transformation has to offer when you don’t ensure your workforce is best-equipped to use these tools.
Tony Willis, Solutions lead, Altron Karabina: Using technology, companies can make it easier to evaluate employee performance and optimise the environment to make the workforce more productive.
Jolene Castelyn, head of Marketing, Ricoh South Africa: Digital transformation really comes down to automating repetitive tasks to optimise efficiency and productivity.
Brainstorm: What would you define as best practice when focusing on the transformation of the workforce?
Arlene Boing, business unit manager: Managed Talent Solutions, Datacentrix: Optimising and aligning business processes to accommodate a digital workforce, and proper change management.
Joshua Motsuenyane, CIO, CCBA: Driving a digital transformation programme should not be seen as an IT project, confined only to the things IT can do.
Bianca Biehler, associate consultant, Digital Advisory, Dimension Data: Understanding human needs, behaviours, motivations and experiences helps your organisation frame the market opportunities and refine and improve the vision.
Marilyn Moodley, country leader for South Africa and West, East, Central Africa, SoftwareONE: Firstly, measure where you are today. Without a measurement, you won’t know if you’ve made a difference.
Monique Williams, regional sales manager, Hyland: Work with internal and external experts to have a well thought-out, and defined, strategy.
Matthew McKay, regional director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Citrix: It’s no longer just about providing the latest technology. It’s about making sure that technology makes work more efficient and meaningful so the company can attract the people it needs.
Paula Sartini, CEO, BrandQuantum: The customer must be at the core of all business decisions and the technologies implemented should help to improve the customer experience.
Edgar Mokoena, business manager, Office of the CIO, Liberty Group South Africa: It’s important that the C-suite understands technologies being adopted and is committed to supporting the CIO.
Deirdre Fryer, head of Solutions Engineering, SYSPRO: Begin reskilling and hiring to maximise the productivity of workforces.
Getting rid of the cholesterol
Mediamark steps up the digital game by investing in workforce transformation that sticks.
Mediamark, a specialist media sales and solutions company, stepped up its digital transformation strategy to drive customer efficiencies while improving workflows and workforce engagement. The company wanted to streamline processes and reduce admin so people had more time to be creative and focus on the business. Wayne Bischoff, the company’s CEO, says: “We’re 24 years old, a legacy business, and until now, we’ve thrown people at issues and system challenges and it has become increasingly complicated over time. We wanted to become more customer-centric.”
As Bischoff explains, the goal was to move away from the traditional and legacy way of thinking that’s focused on making things perfect before moving on, and, instead, adopt a more digital mindset that views change as better done than perfect.
“We needed to revolutionise how we thought and operated,” he says. “We wanted to remove the cholesterol across every department by doing a deep dive into what was working and what wasn’t so we could get a full picture of the business and make it more efficient.”
Digital transformation firm DYDX had been recommended to Mediamark, and was brought on board to help transform systems and introduce more agile ways of working. The process involved unpacking every level in every department and creating a map that showed the areas of the business that needed work, and the unhappy faces of those stuck with monotonous admin tasks.
“That was the starting point; then we went on to fix the teams,” says Bischoff. “DYDX put together a transformation plan to digitise and automate the business, and we realised that the biggest part of the process was the change management and the people. We tried to update our CRM in 2010, but it failed, and when we introduced this new strategy, there were sceptics.”
However, by engaging with the workforce from the ground up, Mediamark managed to get every team member on board and to keep them on side throughout the digital transformation process. By ensuring that every part of the platform was designed with everybody in mind, and embedding transparency so everyone could see where the divisions were and where silos were causing problems, the company managed to create a smart workforce transformation that worked.
Best practice solution
“We implemented the Pipefy work management platform because it’s really easy to use and very intuitive,” says Bischoff. “We engaged with our people on the best workflows and ensured that they were part of the process. We also implemented ActiveCampaign as our CRM platform that integrated seamlessly with Pipefy.”
In the past, Mediamarket used a separate CRM system for the clients, but this move integrated everything into one space. The redesign not only focused on streamlining employee engagement, but also ensuring clients received better service.
“The project is ongoing and leverages the best of our existing systems with the new systems to create a best practice solution,” says Bischoff. “It has allowed us to move faster, and take everyone with us. We’ve managed to engage with our people and keep them on side, improve client turnaround times, and find new ways of approaching our work that’s more optimised and successful.”
In the first month of working, the company saw an increase in adoption across the team, and clients have been more engaged with the teams and the company. It has delivered exactly what the workforce needs in the time of digital, during the process of transformation.
* This feature was first published in the November edition of ITWeb's Brainstorm magazine.