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#3 – Digital Transformation

In the third of our sequence of digests on Forrester’s findings and forecasts for 2019, we look at digital transformation and how it will be different this year to last for many companies with Allen Bonde, VP Research Director at  #Forrester.

Allan Bonde’s first observation was that 2018 had shown that many firms’ experience of attempting large scale ‘big bang’ transformation had been problematic with a number failing in their endeavours.

This, Bonde felt, was frequently because people’s focus needed to shift from transformation efforts to innovation efforts to improve everyday processes. He illustrated this quoting the anecdote of a Chief Digital Officer who’d hidden his digital road map away and instead was looking to go out into the field to talk to others business leaders and gather grass route support for change strategy, taking small incremental steps towards improvement to make his transformation achievable.

Allen Bonde felt that in 2019 transformation focus would be on pragmatic efforts, creating efficiencies and taking big transformation and making it small.   Operational improvements would become higher priorities as companies ‘tuned up their digital experience stock’.

To execute this, Bonde said we needed to build up our cultural reinforcements as we accepted constant change. This meant re-evaluating strategy to put the right people in the right roles.   This would mean shifting customers to:

• Lower cost digital channels
• Launching digital products
• Turning data assets into new products
• Driving automation in everyday tasks faced employees and customers

Allen Bonde acknowledged this would be uncomfortable for a lot of people, currently modelling their business case on a B2C basis.  Instead though, Bonde felt that the B2B route would be the main profit driver, as digital leaders should look at the macro economic picture and decide upon their investments based on which tools would result in ‘payback’.

Forrester anticipate 25% of organisations will decelerate their digital spend either through an assumption they had done enough, or that they were worried about the economy – and will end up losing market share.

The winners would be the 15% of top companies who are customer-obsessed, who will look to invest more, build the right processes and modern architecture to be ‘fit’ and back this up with the right product managers and digital leaders to roll out the next phase of ‘pragmatic transformation’ using the right processes to achieve this.

Ben Davis, Snr Account Manager

Senior Account Manager for Amicus ITS, Ben Davis added:  “These observations by #Forrester echo with Amicus ITS’ thinking.  In the last two and half years we have been supporting our customer base in their journeys to digital transformation.  Our Consultancy efforts primarily focus on understanding our customers, their business outcomes, priorities, IT environment, challenges and budgetary constraints.  For the public sector, our customers are also challenged by other wider mandates including UK Gov’s Cloud First strategy.   For the health sector, the desire to achieve the digital transformation, create improvements and efficiencies is there in full.   However, there are so many legacy applications and keeping the lights on is as great a struggle as any desire to fulfil ‘transformation’”. 

“In the NHS, they are operating in a highly politically charged environment where targets and patient service must come first.  For instance, we see a resistance in Office 365 adoption because of the high ongoing revenue costs.  What this sometimes fails to take into account, is that in subsequent years, NHS organisations would stand to make significant productivity gains and efficiencies, making the operating costs far lower.  Those productivity gains and efficiencies are sometimes intangible.  For instance, a business may struggle to pin a value on the implementation of Microsoft Teams for collaboration, or say, Microsoft Forms (a powerful and easy tool for customer service questionnaires and surveys)”.

“Healthcare organisations are simultaneously looking to implement clinical advances which utilise the best of modern technology, but unless they are freed to be able to take the steps towards digital transformation, they will ultimately always face an uphill struggle.  Minister of Health, Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP said in September 2018 that he wanted to accelerate a vision of a greater technology-driven NHS.   This necessarily has to be more than a five year political plan which ensures it is not just full integration of technology across primary and secondary healthcare, but the binding in of health and social care with wider agencies to provide a full patient-centric service and efficient NHS”. 

“The road to digital transformation is not a rapid journey for any organisation.  The business change has to be carefully thought through and engaged with by all stakeholders to have a chance of success”.

If you are interested in discussing your digital transformation plans or any challenges you are facing in confidence, please contact our Sales team on +44 2380 429429.

Forrester Predictions 2019 – Amicus ITS Digests: Session#2 Customer Experience

Customer Experience or ‘CX’ is the interaction between the organisation and the customer over the duration of their relationship. It is made up of three parts:

  • The customer’s journey
  • The brand touchpoints the customer engages with and
  • The environments the customer experiences (including the digital environment) during their experience

A good customer experience means that the individual’s experience throughout all touchpoints matches their expectations.

In this Forrester session chaired by CMO Victor Milligan with VP Principal Analyst James L McQuivey (middle of picture) and VP Research Director Harley Manning (right of picture), they talk about creating the best experience for customers in 2019 to get ahead of the competition.


James L McQuivey (seen above) talked about how consumers are changing their behaviours and consumption patterns towards brands as well as how they choose to interact – so it’s hard for companies to keep up.  However, he added, to differentiate ourselves in the market, we perhaps need to rethink our approach?  Instead of dreading more changed consumer habits that we have to keep up with, that organisations (like Amicus ITS as a service provider), could view a customer’s changing behaviours as a fresh opportunity for conversation and to explore how we could help differently and deliver things better?   This was set against a backdrop of consumers having massively increased their power through use of digital tools today and they demand more now – but they are also showing a willingness to be open to new experiences and new relationships with product and service providers.

Perhaps reassuringly, Harley Manning (pictured above) pointed out that the majority of companies are stagnating and have not been successful in creating change.  He observed that a good company will recognise that customer experience is important and something they have to do to be competitive.  But a great, ‘leading’ company will take advantage to expand opportunities because they’ve already taken time to try different forms of engagement and have the ‘permission’ to go further in 2019 using yet more channels.

Asked by Victor Milligan if this marked a strategic opportunity for companies, Harley Manning agreed, adding that for Boards, there was a ‘hygiene factor’ to note, as product and service companies could not afford to do poorly because this created a ‘reason’ for the customer to leave.  James L McQuivey added that therefore the invitation to seek to try something anew at that point was lost.   Harley Manning commented that the game changer for businesses would be those companies which recognised they may not have the best product, but could offer the best ‘experience’, as being the ones most likely to succeed going forwards.

James L McQuivey added that consumers have access to more digital tools today, but choosing between opportunities (read companies), required an ‘emotional connection’ to elevate the product/service. Harley Manning believed that the companies who were already delivering a substantially good customer experience, may not actually be racing to be the best, but remain happy with a holding position. Looking beyond to 2020, the panel believed that price wars were definitely not the answer, merely a race to the bottom, with those that failed to innovate not being able to catch up.

(Amicus ITS Sales Director, Les Keen)

For Amicus ITS, in our B2B market as an IT Managed Service Provider, the key takeaway is that successful customer experience is not a given in any industry, it comes through hard work, regular engagement at all levels by our teams with our customers to gain the right and  relevant insights from our customers that we can use internally to help us try do better each day.

Not everything works perfectly first time, but what I say to my team and our wider company is that success is a journey.  You have to keep working at it and refining the detail – and this is especially true of the digital age.   Finding the right digital tools to match not only our organisation’s needs but also the tools that we think will delight our customers, has been a journey Amicus ITS has been undertaking through 2018 with our Ami baby chat bot – and the choices we make to take us to the next stage in 2019 could be moderate or substantial game changers for the business in the longer term.  So whether through data insights, AI chatbots or  machine learning, we are with Forrester in that 2019 is the perfect time to revitalize, re-energise and lead the way with a vision for freshness and vitality.

We’d welcome your thoughts too if you would like to add a comment.