Johannesburg, 18 Aug 2023
Imagine rising on a weekend morning, ready and focused to work on your garden. But when you open the storage shed, it's chaos. Your garden tools are everywhere. All the stuff you need lies underneath a whole bunch of other tools you only use occasionally. It takes an hour just to unpack everything; at this point, your taste for beautifying your garden has waned quite a lot.
Would you blame yourself if you didn't get the performance you expected that day? Even if you grit your teeth and see it all through, were you as effective and efficient as you could have been?
This scenario plays out every day with thousands of employees in enterprises. As a business grows larger, its demands become more complex. It adds specialised departments, creates silos and adopts a growing family of digital tools. The average desk employee relies on around 11 applications to do their job, and most departments use between 40 and 60 applications.
Pruning does not work – these apps serve specific and valuable purposes. But we cannot expect employees to open a chaotic garden shed every morning and still be happy tending to the enterprise garden. And they are not: half of desk employees say they have considered quitting a job due to overwhelming technology tools.
The issue is genuine. During the recent ServiceNow Africa Forum, Vitality Group Senior Operations Manager, Dhesigan Naidu, said: "We were experiencing challenges with having disparate tools and processes in the environment. And with our global growth aspirations, we need an ecosystem that is integrated by nature. We wanted a platform that could integrate our monitoring and observability tools, these capabilities to allow us to grow at scale and to do so with a very quick time to market."
Consolidation to the rescue
As he notes, there is a simple answer: consolidation through a platform. By integrating and routing app feeds into one space, employees can access all the necessary tools and even develop custom workflows to improve app performance. Enterprises should aim for consumer-grade app experiences, but for employees.
"One of the things that really surprised me is the extent to which people will vote with their feet," says Daniel Wilks, ServiceNow's EMEA Area Vice-President of Solution Sales and Employee Workflow. "There is evidence to prove that if people are frustrated with their working experience in the technology they're using, they're more likely to leave that organisation."
How can we define this 'consumer-grade' experience? Wilks articulates three dimensions:
- Experience: Deliver personalised content and services based on the employee's role and facilities; for example: do they need remote or mobile access? This dimension also incorporates feedback mechanisms to improve the services.
- Productivity: Provide self-service features, not only for troubleshooting but also process and workflow design – especially with low code/no code capabilities. Also, provide support agents with intelligent tools and insights to quickly handle employee queries.
- Workplace flexibility: Use an application consolidation strategy to develop a more flexible office incorporating hybrid working and new working guidelines and protocols. Enterprises can also include tools that support collaboration, such as room reservations.
"Behind every experience there is a process. Our ability to optimise that process is the ability to deliver value back to the organisation," says Wilks.
One platform solution
To boost productivity and workplace satisfaction, bring the sprawl of applications together to give employees better and more coherent experiences. But how can we achieve this?
Many enterprises now realise that they can use a platform that brings those elements together through integration. The leading platforms, such as ServiceNow, cut their teeth by streamlining and improving IT support demands. But the goal was always to take that power to all employees. Bolstered by technologies such as the cloud, microservices, no-code and APIs, these platforms provide digital workflows that let employees work the way they want to, not how software dictates they have to.
"It's not an either-or conversation when it comes to employee experience and then delivering benefit to your organisation," says Muhammed Omar, ServiceNow's Manager for Africa. "These things are two sides of the same coin. And employee experience is about operational efficiency as much as it's about delivering a great experience to your team."
Enterprises know this. Some have gone as far as to create bespoke employee super apps that pool different common services together. But 'digital workflow' platforms go further. They can customise experiences on an individual, departmental or project basis, and flexibly incorporate many more applications. Moreover, such platforms come with tested integration strategies, workflow playbooks and ready-to-deploy tools that streamline and automate many parts of employee experiences.
Imagine a self-organising tool shed that gave you exactly what you needed when you required it. Your garden would look amazing, and you'd feel efficient and productive. Digital workflow platforms make this possible for employees, improving their productivity and loyalty.