The last few decades have seen technology adoption accelerate rapidly. It now plays a vital part in powering today’s organisations. The cutting-edge technologies of yesterday, installed by IT Departments, are now seen by many employees as archaic and prehistoric when compared with the modern experiences they have come to expect in their personal lives. Where previously businesses purchased software to automate processes and drive productivity, today these tools now condemn employees to working practices which seem to be hard coded into the system and difficult to change – a sure route to poor business performance and a frustrated workforce.
As the UK was early into IT, we have some of the most antiquated systems at our core. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why the UK is lagging so far behind other G7 economies when it comes to employee productivity.
Existing software applications and systems were not built and designed with worker mobility in mind. At that time, they had no concept of what mobility might look like. However, these applications have taken, in many instances, years to implement, at massive cost. By and large, they run the business and they are critical. So, despite the availability of many modern alternatives today, even if companies wanted to rip and replace their systems, the complexity and cost of change are prohibitive. Simply put, many companies are caught between a system that works but is hard to use and not mobile. However, despite increasing pressure to evolve and improve, do organisations really want to spend £20 million JUST to make it mobile?
Today’s employees, yesterday’s tools
This means today’s employees are being armed with tools that are inflexible when asked to cope with today’s working practises. Employees, both mobile and office-based, are being burdened with complex archaic systems. Workers can spend hours wading through the various computer screens and devices needed to do their job. They want to succeed, but the very software tools they are given by their employer appear to hold them back.
Research from Sharp reveals almost 40 minutes a day are wasted per employee in UK offices. This time costs businesses over £2,100 per employee a year, adding up to 21 days a year wasted due to slow or inefficient technology. Even world class employees will suffer at the hands of old, creaky systems. Poor IT means poor productivity. It’s time for a change, a culture shift, to empower your workforce and boost productivity.
Old fashioned, unwieldy and on its ‘last legs’
The first productivity wave in the 80’s came as new systems automated time-consuming processes. When those systems worked well, so did the business processes they supported. The increasing demands and fluidity required today, however, makes the working day feel more ‘ad-hoc’ than ever before. In addition, there are new tasks and job roles which fall outside the remit of existing ‘old school’ systems’. These are difficult to shoe horn in.
As the working pace quickens and more mobility is needed, employees must navigate the choppy water of complex systems just to get the answers they need to solve the everyday problems of today’s working life. This is in stark contrast to their personal lives outside of work, where actions are quick and easy. It’s clear why frustrations appear.
The phone shop challenge
Customers who have visited a mobile phone shop recently even with a trivial query or ad-hoc request know all about these problems. I know first-hand how painful it is to watch frustrated employees attempt to negotiate through four or five complex, online systems to just get the answers and information needed to fulfil a simple request. Ironically on a desktop. There must be a better way.
Imagine a world where work is as simple as ordering an Uber, booking a restaurant or having a meal delivered to your door from your smartphone. Micro-apps can join the dots. Today’s work needs to mirror our consumer-driven lifestyle. Enterprise applications need to be ‘Uber-simple’.
If old systems can’t be replaced due to cost and complexity, can companies really unlock their workforce’s potential? Micro applications, or micro-apps, provide a solution that creates a new way for employees to engage with their enterprise apps, a new system of engagement which unlocks the value in systems like SAP, Oracle and Salesforce to help mobile enable the workforce. The personal catalogue of micro-apps exposes the relevant parts of all your monolithic enterprise systems and are delivered to those who need it.
Creating micro-apps increases workflow speed and satisfies the insatiable demand of modern-day employees. Additionally, they can be delivered quickly and easily (without coding or APIs) in the shape of a simple, smart, easy to use mobile app, in the palm of an employee. Micro-apps make the user feel the systems are now working for them by alerting them when KPIs are drifting off track, or even simple things like new items that need action.
Micro, mobile and made for you
The quick, simple and mobile demand for more productive IT systems at work is being fuelled by the micro-sized, mobile-friendly and task-specific consumer applications that are eating their way into the daily lives of consumers. The easy use of Facebook, Spotify, WhatsApp, and others, are driving a user revolution in the expectations of corporate life.
Younger workers especially will not tolerate unproductive technology because they have seen ‘the grass is greener’, even on their daily commute to the office. This is based not just on their consumer experience but the work experience of peers who work for more forward-thinking companies. Perhaps even rivals. For staff satisfaction, workforce retention and loyalty, this is critical.
So, the existing systems embedded deep within traditional enterprise organisations are the real problem. Competitive advantage will accrue to those in new organisations who can implement modern-day agile systems without recoding the complex legacy systems.
‘Swipe left. Swipe right’ for productivity
Failing to provide employees with today’s tools leads to frustration and irritation. Why would you expect an employee to be okay with having to log onto an unwieldy system and spend thirty minutes filing an expense claim, approving a purchase order, or logging a piece of data into a system, when they can order a taxi in 60 seconds?
Leading, ‘New world’ organisations are attracting the best talent because they conduct business in a modern way. They prove their forward-thinking credentials with the systems they provide to their employees and customers. Comparatively, ‘Old world’ businesses with prehistoric software will struggle to survive in this environment.
Organisations must act now to keep up with the competition and make sure they have the tools to attract the best talent and resources. Micro applications enable this ‘culture shift’ without the pain of having to update and renew the entire system infrastructure. Remember that when you next get exactly what you need from your smartphone, by simply swiping left or right.
Russell Acton, VP & GM, International, Capriza
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