Why the employee experience is critical to digital transformation

Most enterprises focus on the customer experience as a key driver of their digital transformation strategy, but the employee experience is just as important.

Johannesburg, 05 Sep 2018
Read time 3min 20sec
Stephan Gous, SWECA Territory Manager, Nintex.
Stephan Gous, SWECA Territory Manager, Nintex.

Digital transformation essentially comes down to three key factors, namely speed, intelligence and experience. Companies that begin the digitisation process inevitably want to get faster, get smarter and deliver great experiences.

The last of these plays a huge role in most organisations when it comes time to budget for digital transformation technology purchases, explains Stephan Gous, SWECA Territory Manager for Nintex. He says a recent survey undertaken by the company indicates 48% of company decision-makers prioritise improving the customer experience first and foremost over any other action when considering digital transformation.

"The thinking here is not completely wrong, as it is obviously critical to get the customer experience right, but it needs to be remembered that employees are another key group that organisations need to pay attention to. If digital transformation is going to happen, the employee experience is just as critical, because if you train your employees properly, you can deliver effective customer experience," he says.

"The explicit focus on customer experience by most enterprises actually creates an unbalanced approach to their digital transformation strategy, which is why it is vital that organisations are educated around the role employee experience plays in digital transformation success. A truly successful strategy is one that focuses on digitally transforming the employee experience as much as it does the customer's experience."

He points out that the survey indicates a clear disconnect between how company decision-makers anticipate new technology investments will impact the day-to-day activities of their employees, compared to how employees view their involvement in digital transformation efforts.

"Our research shows that decision-makers believe only around half of employees (53%) are extremely likely to use new digital transformation-driven technology tools. Line-of-business employees, on the other hand, see their company's digital transformation strategy very differently. Nearly every respondent (97%) indicated a willingness to use new tools implemented as part of the company's digital transformation efforts."

"Therefore, it is clear the desire for transformation exists among most employees, but enterprises need to also understand that evolving the employee's experience is not merely a case of teaching someone to run a marketing automation system or analytics software. It also involves developing a well-rounded skills set based on thinking, testing, constantly learning and applying this knowledge to different situations and opportunities," states Gous.

There are many ways a company can help to evolve the employee experience, he adds, including changing the company culture to one that offers equal opportunities to all staff. In this way, new employees will believe they have access to the same opportunities, provided they can demonstrate the ability to learn and grow. At the same time, existing employees must know they also have opportunities to grow and expand beyond their current situation.

"Enterprises should also adopt a continuous learning programme that affords employees time for training and growth, as the digital world is one that is, of course, continuously transforming and thus requires constant learning."

Ultimately, while businesses certainly need to focus on the customer experience, as this is critical for ongoing business success, Gous warns we must not neglect the experience of the employees in the process.

"If organisations really hope to fully realise the benefits of enterprise-wide digital transformation, they will need to focus on automating, orchestrating and optimising not only their customer-facing processes, but their internal ones as well. In fact, one could make a strong case that the connection between the employee experience and the customer experience is not only real, but could easily be perceived as being the linchpin to successful digital transformation for those that get it right," he concludes.

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