Tomorrow’s top-performing firms will have one thing in common: a mastery of digital tech that gives their front-line workers more control. So says Carolyne Ruston, marketing manager at CDW, who assesses the research
At least 55 per cent of organisations will be transforming their markets with new business models and digitally enabled goods and services by 2020, researchers at International Data Corporation have predicted.
Technologies ranging from blockchain to artificial intelligence are already enabling these “digitally determined” businesses to improve their operational efficiency, reshape their offerings and expand their market share.
Ready for the challenge?
Organisations that fail to adapt to this new reality are in danger of getting left behind. The challenges they face include recruitment, as skills shortages harm the ability of enterprises to innovate and grow. Cyber security, too, is a pressing concern, as the volume of data they hold constantly increases.
This is all happening against a backdrop of economic turbulence, exacerbated by factors such as the continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit, which is forcing businesses to rethink their methods.
Regaining the advantage
What’s the most effective response? To answer that, we must acknowledge that people are still central to how organisations work.
Granting employees greater control of their work is what gives progressive employers an edge. This means equipping their teams with all the tools they require to perform at the highest possible level.
“To rapidly innovate, better serve customers and engage workers, organisations across the globe are looking to technology-driven solutions that improve information-sharing, enhance teamwork, accelerate decision-making and drive process efficiencies,” reported Forrester Research in a 2018 study commissioned by Microsoft.
“Organisations looking to further improve the performance of their employees are looking to devices with next-generation capabilities, including voice recognition, digital pens and touchscreens.”
A business case for change
The study, which investigated the impact on businesses of adopting Microsoft Surface devices running Microsoft 365, observed gains in areas such as teamwork and productivity, along with reductions in pressure on IT departments and spending on third-party tech.
A previous study for Microsoft by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services focused on the digital empowerment of customer-facing employees. The ensuing research report observed that these front-line workers were too often the last to benefit from any digital transformation.
“Employees who are the first point of contact between organisations and their customers, or who spend most of their time making products or managing operations, often have been an afterthought in many organisations’ digital transformation efforts,” the report notes.
“That is starting to change. Business leaders looking to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their workforce are extending their digital efforts beyond what we typically think of as knowledge workers to include maintenance workers, retail assistants, nurses, flight attendants, electricians, baristas, store managers and others.”
Indeed, 78 per cent of organisations involved in the research agreed that their future success depended on connecting and empowering front-line employees with technology and information.
To learn more about the commercial advantages of empowering employees with digital technology, you can access a wealth of information and resources from CDW and Microsoft by clicking here