Using technology to improve the culture of your business
Having a strong company culture is vital in today’s business world. Culture permeates all aspects of business, irrespective of the size, and getting this right can grow an atmosphere of efficiency, and ensure improved performance. Creating an ethos which makes a workforce more productive and improves the worker experience will result in a superior customer experience. Get this ethos wrong however, and businesses will be faced with an underperforming workforce, consequently leading to weaker relations with customers, which will impact growth.
There are many ways in which senior management can influence company culture; from the top down ethos set out by the CEO, through to the benefits and perks established by HR. This can be anything from flexible working conditions and open-plan offices, to company away-days and reward schemes.
Traditionally, company culture has not been associated with technology. However, driven by the consumerisation of IT and the rise of millennial workers in enterprise organisations, the quality, performance, and user experience of corporate IT now matters in a significant way. It is important for businesses to see the correlation between the technology they give their employees and the customer experience they can then provide. We are starting to see the most innovative CEOs drive this agenda as keeping up with developments in technology is starting to be seen as the number one aspect of business growth.
The choice of communication software and IT operating system defines how organisations want people to interact and collaborate. If a system is outdated or old fashioned, it is likely that employee output will reflect this. In 2016, it is the time for businesses to throw in the towel on old working styles and habits that are no longer relevant, and try new things: embrace the new and the innovative. Collaborative technologies such as cloud-based video conferencing and online document sharing enable employees to work together in a more collective manner, and have better communication with their customers and clients. This has been validated by recent research from Forrester which has found that the use of Google Docs has led to improved collaboration and time savings which range from 15 minutes to two hours per week, depending on the employee.
New trends, new opportunities
A major business trend over the past few years has been the rise in flexible and remote working. In business, flexible working is often implemented to improve employee engagement and to promote a healthier work-life balance. Unsurprisingly, businesses that promote these initiatives are appealing to staff and consumers in the digital age. This is demonstrated in our recent Future of Work report, which shows that the top three criteria IT staff look at when evaluating new job opportunities are a well-resourced IT department, up-to-date technology, and flexibility.
For remote working to be successful, organisations must think about technology in new ways and implement BYOD (bring your own device) and practices. Workers, given the opportunity to use their own device in the workplace, feel more confident when engaging with consumers and can provide a more tailored approach. Depending on the customer or client, they can use an appropriate piece of tech to support them.
It’s time to cloud
Implementing a cloud-based solution such as Google Docs can greatly improve the productivity in a business and offer employees easier access to data. Keeping up with technological developments and enabling improved productivity will improve engagement and set a business apart from the competition. By providing staff with the right consumer grade technology, businesses can promote a much simpler and more effective working experience.
These simple changes in business processes help organisations to streamline activity which will impact their bottom-line, while making work simpler for employees. New cloud technology can often help employees and managers to process over 90 percent of HR transactions on their own and in their own time using apps on the go, without the need to involve the HR department. Companies can also use cloud-based technology to share documents across locations and identify business trends which can grow the business.
Corporate IT can become a positive metaphor for the business at large. It can be a statement of intent about where the company wants to be in the future and its strategic direction. Through embracing the right technology, businesses can improve the worker experience which subsequently has a positive impact on customer service.
Justin Anderson is GM & VP Sales, EMEA at Appirio
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”