Before the pandemic, agility was a buzzword in business; an idealised ability to adapt and make decisions quickly, increase the pace of change and bring everyone in the organisation along with you
Then came March 2020, and within a matter of weeks enterprises were surviving – thriving in some cases – in a more uncertain and volatile business environment than many of us have ever known.
Looking at technology alone, organisations achieved change in a matter of months that would otherwise have taken years. There’s an old saying that necessity is the mother of invention, and this is exactly what we’ve seen. The pandemic rapidly accelerated digital transformation ambitions and forced organisations to leap across obstacles that would previously have posed real challenges.
As we eye the complete easing of restrictions, and a return to some sort of normality, the gaze of business leaders must now turn to creating a holistic and sustainable tech strategy. But, what does that mean?
It means taking a breath, capturing the learnings and efficiencies created over the last 15 months and setting a long-term digital strategy that enables the business, its technology and its people to work better. As a starter, here’s a few key points to consider.
Align tech investments with business outcomes
While there’s no doubt technology has been a lifeline for businesses, in many cases it will have served as a solution to short-term problems, with less consideration for its long-term value. Demonstrating the value of technology and return on investment is going to be crucial as we move forward.
When setting your digital strategy, start by identifying your key objectives and vision for the ideal end-state. This should shape everything that comes before it. This includes thinking about the business outcomes you want to achieve, whether that’s an increase in productivity, efficiency, cost savings or something entirely different.
Set KPIs and measure, measure, measure
Once you’ve set clear business objectives, it’s crucial to put solid key performance indicators (KPIs) in place, and measure these continuously to ensure technologies are making a tangible difference to your business.
Too often businesses forget about the importance of measuring these KPIs long-term – in fact, research carried out last year by AppLearn found that just 12 per cent of organisations measure the success of their technology investments after one year, falling to five per cent after three years. When you consider the time and money ploughed into software roll outs, these stats are shocking. But there’s also the fact that software evolves and the way users interact with it can change, especially with major updates – this makes assessing the performance and value of investments beyond the first few years of implementation just as important.
In the age of the digital workplace, data is king and will give business leaders greater insights into the technologies used and the end-to-end employee experience. To maintain productivity in the long-term, you must move beyond surface level vanity metrics and gather intelligent data points – this could be time spent navigating tasks within applications, task error/completion rates, what pages users have visited or where they’ve looked for support.
Review the employee experience
Think about the number of applications your business now uses. It’s likely this has increased significantly during the pandemic as you adapted to the changing environment. And while each individual piece of technology has solved an immediate problem or plugged a gap – do all those applications work together? Do they provide a consistent, unified experience for employees?
It’s easy to think: why does that matter? However, you need only look at the impact of context-switching to understand why – the action of flitting between different applications or windows, taking users out of the flow of work. Research from Pegasystems shows that the average employee is using 35 business applications for their day-to-day job, and switches between these more than 1,100 times a day.
The risk? A tangled mess, employees who are overwhelmed and a significant impact on the bottom line. Every minute spent flitting between disparate applications impacts productivity, resulting in time and cost losses for your business, as well as increased employee frustration. This is being compounded by the shift to hybrid working, which can make it increasingly difficult to train and onboard users.
Consolidate and streamline your tech
Creating a holistic and sustainable tech strategy means looking for ways to consolidate, streamline and seeking solutions that help bring disparate applications together.
It’s about taking a step back and putting data-driven tools in place which give you full sight of the metrics. And the best solutions will enable potential problem applications, user groups or inefficient processes to be pre-empted a long time before they can impact on the bottom line. In its latest report, analyst firm Constellation Research identified several disruptive technologies that will make all of this possible, including digital adoption platforms (DAPs) which lay over business applications to support users and organisations throughout their software journeys.
If enterprises are to take anything from the digital acceleration experienced during the pandemic, it’s the art of the possible. Agility is now much more than a buzzword, with teams capable of adapting to large-scale digital transformation. The challenge now is creating an end state where users don’t have to think about support, as well as a sustainable digital strategy that builds on the efficiencies achieved, clearly aligns technology with business outcomes and works for your employees.
About the Author
Andrew Avanessian is the CEO at AppLearn. He has a wealth of experience in growing fast pace technology companies and is using his expertise to accelerate AppLearn’s growth plans and strategic objectives. AppLearn is a pioneering digital adoption company and creator of the Adopt digital adoption solution. We’ve made it our mission to bring certainty to enterprise software investments
Featured image: ©Elenabsl