Forrester Predictions 2019 – Amicus ITS Digests: Session#5 – Employee Experience

(L-R) Carrie Johnson, Sharyn Leaver and Sam Stern

Forrester’s Chief Research Officer Carrie Johnson asked Principal Analysts Sam Stern and Sharyn Leaver about employee experience and looked at the psychology behind work and the introduction of workplace automation.

In defining ‘employee experience’, Sam Stern said this was the “sum of their perceptions of their experiences working within an organisation, informed by how they feel about their employer and their working life for that company”.

Carrie Johnson reflected that Forrester’s predictions around large scale digital transformation for big organisations were that it would be very challenging (to avoid a workforce feeling excluded and devalued) as it involved a range of issues that had to be managed well to avoid failure, including culture.

Sam Stern commented that this would give companies a chance to look around their different departments to try to get some of the smaller things right. This included:

• Helping managers become better coaches
• Remove unneeded process or any broken rules that no longer apply
• Help employees be more productive in their daily work

Stern continued that with many companies currently experiencing generally low unemployment, employees had more options and might question whether their employers were doing enough with just smaller efforts. 2019 could mark an exodus of staff, unless the company was demonstrable in showing it cared and that staying was right for them and their future?

Sharyn Lever commented that whilst the road to transformation had to have regard for the legacy stack involved, forgetting the employee experience as part of this journey could form the biggest single cause of failure, as fundamental change was very hard for staff to accept.

Carrie Johnson observed that one fix or ‘band aid predicted for 2019’ was updating infrastructures from legacy technology. This created a natural path for the introduction of ‘Robotic Process Automation’ (RPA) to make processes more efficient.  How did that investment conflict with the investment into the employee experience to make people feel good about the work they are doing?

For Sharyn Lever, RPA was a very pragmatic investment as it was so specific, but she acknowledged it could have ‘unintended’ consequences in sending the wrong message to staff if they read into the transformation incorrectly without context and constructive guidance.

Sam Stern commented that it was imperative for companies to be explicit in messaging what RPA was not about in the workplace, otherwise people would make up their own minds – probably incorrectly.   Explaining to staff which areas of business would benefit most from the introduction of RPA would be more constructively received, if the plans were shared with employees in advance to get them on board (and offer a discussion).  “RPA is designed to take away from the human as many of the non-human tasks as possible as we ask them to do and automate them” ie. those which are boring or repetitive (as humans don’t tend to do this well as we lose interest when we’re not focused and quality drops).    Stern agreed it had to start with intentionality, not as a by-product of change, to ensure motivation and focus remained.  With the right messaging, staff have a chance to embrace change, not just be onside – and employee experience would be enhanced with recognition of their value and personal contribution.

Chief Research Officer Carrie Johnson was concerned that should we experience a downward economic trend in 2019 and investment went the route of RPA, that there could be a loss of trust for employees, as people’s instincts would naturally be to imagine their job was at risk if the focus went on technology, not the people.

Sharyn Lever commented that businesses needed to make time to re-think their core values to properly understand their identity.  Sam Stern added that if values and purpose were weighed against each other, a company had to be very clear about its values – and keep them in line of sight when making decisions. Doing this would ultimately lead to better business decisions, rather than selecting when to apply values.

In summary, both recommended steps to support navigating this tricky path included:

•  For management to keep staff focused and to manage any distractions
•  To allow employees time to get important work done either directly or in their teams.

◊  Statistically, the better employee response and higher productivity comes from employees feeling they are able to make progress on their most important work (and have distractions managed with minimum interruption of meetings/online tools interference.

• If employees can be supported to focus on the company’s core mission, this will align with the organisation’s wider strategies and lift productivity further.
• Finally, if the individual feels they are making personal progress this will be valuable in helping with staff retention and reduce the costliness and lost time of staff replacement.

Vikki Fox, HR & Client Relationship Manager

Vikki Fox, Amicus ITS HR & Customer Relationship Manager is unequivocal on the matter, “Amicus ITS is a 24×365 B2B IT Managed Service organisation and our staff are at the centre of solution delivery and customer satisfaction every day.  You have to start by focusing on your employee and think of them as a person not a commodity.  Their employee experience is pivotal to good retention, personal satisfaction and productivity”. 

“If you can lead staff with integrity, review any processes to remove those that are obsolete, whilst providing the support and training your staff need to grow personally – they will add value for you and you will have gained their trust through your performance”. 

“So when transformation and change inevitably comes (which it will with technology), you are far better prepared to talk things through and nurture their confidence by identifying the solution’s value and the employee’s fit – either as a consumer, or the expert guide for the customer”.

“Company vision can often seem distanced where it is not understood at floor level and recognised by all whatever the role.  Ensuring that everyone can identify with your organisation’s core values puts you on that path to a shared vision and sense of pride by association”.

“HR have a big responsibility for employee experience throughout the employee lifecycle, we are selling the opportunity, business, culture and environment from the interview and this experience must continue throughout the individual’s employment. My aim is to lead with integrity and ensure that as a team we understand and work within our company values”.

 

Forrester Predictions 2019 – Amicus ITS Digests: Session#1 the CIO and CMO

Last Wednesday saw the gathering of some of the brightest executive brains at Forrester, sharing their technology predictions for 2019 plus offering wary cautions against us taking the foot off the brake on the road to transformation.  In a sequence of fast-paced topical sessions targeted at both businesses and customers, Amicus ITS will be sharing these high level digests with you in mini break-out blogs this week.

Our Forrester co-chairs for 2019 were Carrie Johnson, Chief Research Officer and Victor Milligan, Chief Marketing Officer.  They started off by taking a look back at the last two years of business globally and summarised that some of the goals of businesses in the last two years technologically had been very bold but not always successful.  Forrester’s view for 2019 was that 2019 is the year that ‘transformation goes pragmatic’.

CIO and CMO
In the first session with VP Research Directors Matthew Guarani and Keith Johnston, the Forrester duo looked at how transformation could be ‘translated’ in practical terms to yield the best results from these two perspectives.


Matthew Guarini (middle of picture) commented that whilst transformation presented a great opportunity for business, many organisations are still not prepared to take full advantage of it.  He suggested that focusing on the essential elements in 2019 was primary – and choosing the right time to do innovation was key.

The challenge facing the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) according to Keith Johnston  (seen on right of picture) was that technology had been massively commoditised in the last two years without much differentiation as digital media matures and finds its place . For him, finding a balance was key to making decisions (ie not technology for technologies sake).  With the customer experience largely flattened in 2018 (across the big brands), Johnston felt companies needed to go back to basics to ‘foundation build’ on their core values and brand in 2019 to deliver improvements after the big ‘growth and go’ directive in 2018.

Chair and Chief Research Officer Carrie Johnson asked about the risk of disenfranchisement from fellow Board exec members if the recommendation appeared to be asking companies to look backwards instead of consolidating on the big changes in the last 12-18 months?

Matthew Guarini agreed it carried a risk but pointed out the need for balance to be struck, employing the right focus and reasoning – and yes, with push back if needed.  This, he said should be accompanied by a parallel action plan (ie. so as not to have all eggs in one basket).   It needed correct development and focus to create momentum and give the marketing the best chance.    Keith Johnston added that any transformation takes time and metrics are often used in increasingly tight periods to evaluate hard results. This makes it hard for the CIO to get everything moving at speed to fulfill the demand.

Matthew Guarini added that the Operations side remained fundamental to achieving all these goals.  However, it was the change leaders and true business partners who could make the real difference – and this would be channelled by the Head of Sales.   The CMO role was ideally positioned to use the right technologies to drive the commercial directives where incremental value had been identified.  Using Marketing’s abilities of communication this should deliver the collaboration at C-Level in 2019 to ensure messaging was fully shared and taken on board throughout the organisation – which reflected what the customer needed.

Both felt that the technology disrupters would continue apace globally, challenging business assumptions and business models.  This was a good thing though and we should not be distrustful, as these creative business thinkers would continue to bring new technology, talent and ideas to the marketplace.

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Whilst much of this is targeted at the big brands, retailers and B2C markets, from our B2B perspective these are still resonant takeaways.  It binds together good forward thinking and the need for pragmatism and planning.

For Amicus ITS, 2019 is about continuing to drive our business forwards, keeping our eyes on the horizon seeking out new technologies that we believe could create transformative opportunities for our customer base.

The difference between an MSP doing this versus a reseller is that we have the whole customer’s IT estate in front of us.   This makes us their trusted partner and safe pair of hands to offer guidance and deliver the right transformation programme that offers least risks on their journey.