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Digital Transformation Starts with the Employee Experience

Published on : 5/29/19
  • Most organizations understand the implications of failing to adapt amid fierce digital disruption. However, a distinct knowledge gap has emerged when it comes to building digital strategies around people's needs.

    Effective digital integration can drive better intelligence and facilitate more informed decisions about organizational efficiency. But ultimately, for long-term success the focus must shift from ‘How can we use technology to improve our bottom line?’ to ‘How can we use technology to support and engage our people?’ Jean-Philippe Courtois, Executive Vice President and President of Global Sales, Marketing and Operations at Microsoft, explores this topic along with Sylvia Metayer, Chief Growth Officer at Sodexo.

    A turning point for digital transformation

    “Organizations are ‘at risk’ if they’re not already demonstrating effective use of technology and robust digital-first strategies to power people’s experience of the business,” says Courtois, who drives Microsoft's presence as a strategic global digital transformation partner for businesses all over the globe.

    Top 5 technologies used by global businesses:

    1.    Mobile technologies (59%)
    2.    Big Data/Analytics (58%)
    3.    Private Cloud (53%)
    4.    Public Cloud (45%)
    5.    Embeddable Technologies (40%)

    Source: IDG Communications Inc, 2018 State of Digital Transformation

    Recent research revealed that just 8% of organizations believe their current business model will remain economically viable if their industry keeps digitizing at its current speed. For companies who want to stay competitive, digital integration is vital to long-term prosperity. It’s why 89% of enterprises have plans to adopt (or have already adopted) a ‘digital-first’ business strategy with Services, Financial Services, Healthcare, Education, High-Tech, Manufacturing and Retail industries leading the way.

    Broadly speaking, organizations will always have the same end goal for digital integration: to improve efficiency across the business. But when only 16% of digital transformations have improved company performance and sustained those gains, there is clearly a pressing demand for business leaders to rethink their approach. And it starts with the employee experience.

    Reinventing the employee journey 

    Courtois emphasizes the fundamental role of digital in “increasing workforce engagement by reimagining the employee journey, empowering employees and automating operations.” Metayer agrees, adding that “when you contribute towards the quality of life of your employees, you are also contributing towards their performance.”

    This perspective is critical. Because when business leaders use technology to improve quality of life, the true potential of digital transformation can be realized. Courtois and Metayer see four key ways in which technology should be used to prioritize the people who consume the workplace:   

    1) Technology as an ally

    Across the various channels, processes and tools that employees use, the digital experience should not only drive productivity, but also make people’s lives easier by supporting every aspect of the working day. Metayer notes that for today’s workforce, “technology is fast becoming an ally that’s there from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep.” 

    Employees increasingly expect that with just a few taps, they can arrange food, access concierge services, book activities, make service requests and much more. Smart notifications, multi-channel communication, streamlined payment methods and real-time maintenance updates all add up to a more focused workday. 

    2) Technology as an enabler

    An effective digital transformation helps grow the business while also enabling employees to reach their full potential. Today’s climate asks leaders to provide their workforce with opportunities to do what technology can’t—think, create and strike up human connections. “Technology today touches everything we do, at work and in our personal lives. Making the best use of it, making it work for us, is what matters,” says Courtois.

    This can be accomplished by deploying digital solutions where they are needed most. Automated data and reports, streamlined processes and employee self-service are just a few examples of tools that reduce administrative tasks. With more free time, employees can focus their efforts on more meaningful and challenging activities. 

    Case Study: WWF Brazil focuses on saving the planet with more efficient project management

    For 40 years the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has worked to protect the Amazon, one of the world’s most important and biodiverse regions. When you’re fighting to protect a natural environment intimately linked with the health of the planet, a lack of efficiency isn’t an option. The nonprofit turned to Microsoft Project Online to help it replace slow and outdated spreadsheet-based processes so it could focus on its mission.

    “Using Microsoft Project Online, there is no doubt that we are more effective at our core mission,” says Marcelo Brasileiro, CFO, WWF Brazil. “We have seen a 10% increase in productivity since we’ve put the solution in place.”

    3) Technology to support continuity

    “Employees are less and less restricted to one site, and their experience goes beyond one touchpoint or service,” says Metayer. “All employees, whether remote or onsite, should benefit from an identical standard of experience and service delivery. Technology enables the organization to deliver enhanced services and achieve continuity in the experience between the office, the home, and other locations where people work, live and play.”

    With flexible and remote workstyles increasingly the norm, employees need to be able to connect with their company’s services however and whenever they want to. Whether it’s ordering breakfast during their commute, booking a workout from their desk, or arranging a repair from the other side of the world, the ecosystem known as ‘work’ should be accessible at all times.

    4) Technology to optimize the workplace

    Most employers want to deliver a best-in-class workplace, but how do you create a workplace that adapts to new demands? Organizations can work with technology partners to draw proactive, time-saving recommendations from data, based on employee activities, schedules, and feedback. By optimizing and customizing workplace services based on individual needs, people can get more done.

    "Data gives you the capacity to be predictive, and that directly affects the employee experience,” Metayer emphasizes. “When you know how often people are visiting a site, when you know which people will be there and how they work, you can provide an expertly tailored service that’s there when it’s needed and founded on the principles of customization, which in the modern workplace is something every employee wants.” 

    When asked which factors contributed the most to their organization’s effective execution of a digital transformation strategy, more than 50% of survey respondents pointed to their access to great technology partners and nearly 50% said company culture.

    Futurum Research: 2018 Digital Transformation Index

    Moving toward a “growth mindset”

    People-focused digital transformation has many benefits: it simplifies the employee experience, it empowers employee mobility, and it enables optimization of facilities and services based on real-time data. It also asks for the development of a digital culture from within the business—what Courtois describes as a “growth mindset.”
    “For any successful organization, it’s important to build a team of talented people who are comfortable with change. A team that sees the opportunities in a changing environment or industry and adapts to it,” explains Courtois.

    Metayer agrees. “For Sodexo and our corporate clients, the evolution toward a digital workplace requires new capabilities, new attitudes and a far-reaching transformation. Getting an organization and its employees to believe in the benefits of this positive disruption is no easy task, it requires daily work.” 

    Her advice? Give your people the tools, the time and training they need to thrive, provide a consistent, data-driven experience that enhances their day, and build digital strategies designed to attract and engage the best talent. Achieve this, and organizational efficiency will follow.  

    Once everyone is moving in the same direction, transformation can happen. 

    The Sodexo Workplace Platform

    Developed through close partnership with Microsoft, the Sodexo Workplace Platform is an innovative, multi-purpose solution powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365, Azure, AI, IoT and other Microsoft cloud technologies. The Platform makes everyday life easier and more efficient for organizations, their consumers and Sodexo’s employees. 

    For organizations, the Platform brings data together from multiple systems and makes it meaningful through analytics, enabling greater efficiency and the ability to make well-informed strategic decisions. The Platform can help companies reduce complexity and better understand space utilization, asset and energy usage, employee productivity and more.

    For workplace consumers, the Platform provides constant access to every service, every activity and every piece of information, everywhere they go. This enhances the workplace experience and allows employees to focus on what really matters. From ordering meals to requesting repairs, the Platform is a simple one-stop-shop for everything they need to get done during their day.  

    For Sodexo’s employees, the Platform provides a consistent, centralized way to handle their to-do list and plan for the future. It reduces administration and streamlines processes, which gives staff more time to develop their business. The Platform’s data and predictive algorithms can be leveraged to support forward-planning and personalization of services.

    For all stakeholders, the Sodexo Workplace Platform unlocks the power of real-time data and analytics for an enhanced workplace experience and better management. Contact us to learn more about the Platform.

    How Microsoft helps its customers drive digital transformation

    Digital transformation is about reimagining how you bring together people, data, and processes. Microsoft partners with organizations across every industry to help them successfully develop smart strategies that combine these three pillars and implement technology solutions to deliver deeper customer engagement, optimized operations, more empowered teams and differentiated offerings.

    Discover more about how Microsoft helps businesses maintain a competitive advantage in a digital-first world.