The unspoken reality of enterprise technology in the workplace

The unspoken reality of enterprise technology in the workplace

Organisations that make the effort to design and deploy intuitive, effective and compelling enterprise technology will have a distinct advantage in attracting digitally fluent employees, writes Aaron McEwan

Most people who know me would probably say I’m a bit of a geek and an early adopter of enterprise technology. I still get calls from friends and relatives when they need help with “computer stuff”.

My fascination with all things tech really took off when I started working for a software development company in the late 1990s. They were building e-commerce websites and cloud-based management software before anyone really knew what to do with them.

On my first day, I was handed an Apple iBook 3G Clamshell. It looked like a lollypop and was unlike anything I’d ever seen. It was fast and sleek and it could do things that I didn’t know were possible on a computer. Most of my friends didn’t even have computers at work. The ones that did were using clunky desktops.

I was certainly the only salesperson I knew that had a laptop and the advantages were amazing.

I could manage leads and opportunities, track my activities, follow-up with clients and send my boss detailed reports on how we were performing. I also worked out that I could use it to produce flyers and posters and design album covers for my band. It was a revelation to me and fundamentally changed my expectations of what work technology could deliver.

Unfortunately, in my next job, it was back to a beige desktop. I hated it. So, I got myself an iMac and brought it into work. It cost me every cent I had. My friends thought I was crazy. Most of them didn’t have personal computers. If they did, they were less powerful than what they had at work. For them, coming to work was an upgrade. Not anymore.

“Outdated mobile phones, ugly laptops, clunky HR systems, complicated CRM platforms and buggy custom-built enterprise apps are the norm in most workplaces”

Today, advanced technology permeates our day-to-day lives. Personal electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets, hybrid laptops, digital assistants and intuitive consumer apps that we use every day to assist us in life have become extensions of our ourselves.

As a result, businesses struggle with enterprise technology to match the speed at which these technologies are adopted at home. Outdated mobile phones, ugly laptops, clunky HR systems, complicated CRM platforms and buggy custom-built enterprise apps are the norm in most workplaces.

How technology drives attrition
At a time when employees have never been under as much pressure to perform, they are being asked to downgrade and use inferior, impersonal tools and tech that frustrate them, slow them down, waste their time and prevent them from delivering value. And it appears, they’ve had enough.

In early Q1 2019, Gartner revealed technology ranked in the top 10 reasons Australian employees would leave their current role. In the data, technology had risen eight places from 3Q 2018 to come in ninth on the list of key attrition drivers for Australian employees

Slow and unproductive enterprise technology doesn’t just frustrate employees. It erodes the employee experience and directly impacts their performance. The tools and tech employees are given to do their job often feel like a representation of an individual’s value or worth to the company. Feeling valued by your employer is intrinsically linked to the employee experience and directly impacts how a person feels about their job.

These factors may have already hit the willingness of Australian to commit to their current employer. Gartner’s most recent Global Talent Monitor data revealed that intent to stay has dropped by more than 8 per cent, in the three months to March 2019.

“Consumer apps and platforms like Facebook, Evernote, Uber, Netflix and Instagram are purposefully designed to be intuitive and enjoyable to use, if not outright addictive”

Businesses can no longer ignore the enterprise technology needs of their employees. They must start thinking of their workers like they do their customers – making it a priority to offer a personalised, seamless and efficient experience.

The consumerisation of enterprise technology
The systems and tools that employees use to do their work is an important part of the broader employee experience. Allowing employees to bring their own devices to work still makes many CIOs nervous, particularly in highly regulated environments.

Cybersecurity threats are real and potentially devastating. However, forcing employees to use badly designed enterprise software just because it’s safe, is unlikely to prove productive or engaging. If employees don’t like the systems, or find them difficult and time-consuming to use, they’ll probably avoid them and/or turn to the many widely available cloud-based alternatives, ironically increasing the organisation’s risks.

Consumer apps and platforms like Facebook, Evernote, Uber, Netflix and Instagram are purposefully designed to be intuitive and enjoyable to use, if not outright addictive. They hide unnecessary complexity from the user and are continuously updated to keep pace with advances in technology and the changing demands of consumers.

If only the same were true for enterprise apps. Launching a new HRIS shouldn’t require extensive training and change management support to drive adoption. It should be like Netflix, or Instagram where the user can work it out on their own.

Organisations that understand what their employees value and make the effort to design and deploy intuitive, effective and compelling enterprise technology and systems will not only reap the rewards of an engaged workforce, they will have a distinct advantage in attracting the most digitally fluent employees in the market.

Image source: Depositphotos