Make Digital Transformation about Your Business, not about Millennials

on May 23, 2019
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Millennials might be where your digital transformation journey starts, and their imminent control of the workforce might even put some pressure on your timing. Ultimately though, digital transformation should come from a more profound desire to look at your business processes and make them better, more efficient, more user-friendly.

Every presentation I see about digital transformation talks about talent shortage, which drives a highly competitive employment market and a stronger need to retain talent when you find it.

But what about the current workforce? A recent Gallup study showed that 85% of employees are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. If you are interested in knowing how much that costs in lost productivity, Gallup estimates a whopping $7 trillion! Eighteen percent of the employees are actively disengaged in their work and workplace, while 67% are “not engaged.” This means that the majority of the current workforce is indifferent to the organization they work in.

While the Gallup report goes on to talk about how performance review and better management can help change this, I would argue that digital transformation could alleviate if not eradicate such apathy at work.

Engagement Makes for Successful Consumer Brands….

Millennials are not the only employees who care about their job. They’re not the only employees who want to collaborate, feel rewarded for the work they do, and expect to have the right tool for the job. Gen Xers want many of the same things. And I will guess baby boomers did too.

The big difference between millennials and Gen Zers and previous generations is that technology is not foreign to them. And this is not just about devices; it is about applications as well. Over the years, people have been talking about consumerization of IT in many different ways, but it is fascinating to me, that the core of what a consumer business focuses on has never been brought to the enterprise. And that core is the drive for engagement.

If you talk to any consumer brand, engagement is what they strive for. If they have an engaged audience, they have an audience that will very likely be loyal and will generate them revenue. This can be the same in an enterprise where the final user of technology is indeed a consumer. So, why has that rarely been a focus in the enterprise? Maybe it is because someone’s job has never been seen as an engagement opportunity on tap that can be turned on and off. But how can you have high productivity with disengagement? And if you don’t have productivity, how can you run a successful business and have loyal employees? Gallup clearly shows how much money disengagement will cost you, but the impact goes deeper than that.

Multiple factors drive disengagement. But lack of the right tools, lack of data, lack of an understanding of what the business imperatives are as well as work processes that get in the way rather than facilitate someone’s task are probably the worst offenders.

…So Why is Consumerization Bad in Enterprise?

Consumerization of IT has always had a somewhat derogatory connotation. For many IT managers, consumerization meant providing devices and applications that were not designed for enterprises and therefore not as capable or as sophisticated and certainly not as secure as the tools that an enterprise would choose.

The reality, though, is quite different.

When you’re looking at critical devices that have been successful with consumers, such as smartphones, there’s not a lot of difference between a smartphone that I use for work and one that I use for personal use. Long gone are the days when we carried two phones, one for work and one for personal use. Security has been baked in at an acceptable level in many smartphone models because what consumers do today requires the kind of security that enterprises also demand.

When it comes to apps, consumerization takes a different meaning. It’s not just about security; it is about putting the user first and designing something that is above all user-friendly, because that user-friendliness will drive engagement. Design, however, has never been a priority for IT departments which is why at Citrix Synergy event in Atlanta, this week, it was fascinating for me to listen to how the new intelligent digital Workspace is delivering two essential components to driving successful digital transformation.

First, Workspace builds on your existing infrastructure but adds the support for micro-apps to a streamlined landing page that will allow enterprises to look at the current workflows and all the applications that are used to complete a task and intelligently streamline those processes and look at predictable steps in an efficient workflow. You can see how, when you add data-driven-intelligence, to this concept, enterprises could be able to deliver to employees a set of workflows that are, in reality, best practices catered to their specific needs. Imagine the impact that this approach could have on a new employee onboarding program, for instance. This idea takes a page out of the consumer book where more and more services and apps are using AI to delivered a personalized experience something that employees will come to expect in their work environment too.

The second key component that Citrix is also able to deliver is Citrix Analytics and specifically, being able to measure the performance of an app and the infrastructure around it as well as score employees’ user experience. This is a critical move in shifting the way enterprises should think about return on investment of initiatives aimed at improving employees’ TOMO and business efficiencies. More often than not, the way enterprises want to measure the return on investment is by measuring productivity improvements based on old parameters that are a misfit to the new tools. Mobile is an excellent example of this struggle. When the smartphone era started, IT struggled to measure the return on investment that a smartphone deployment would have on employees. Soft targets such as employee satisfaction, coming from being able to complete a task while away on business or being able to start the day on the long commute to the office, were hard to measure. It took years before enterprises began to see the value of higher engagement that mobile offered. Higher customer satisfaction, higher employee satisfaction driven by flexible hours and remote working..and the list goes on. Shifting the burden of the return on investment on the tool rather than the employee will help assure that enterprises will not just do lip service to transformation but really focus on improving workflows.

Employees are consumers of the technology as well as  customers of the IT department. The sooner enterprises start seeing them in that light, the easier it will be to put them first driving their engagement at work and making them the best evangelist for their brand.