Companies today must think of their employees as customers and employ technology, including mobile apps, that employees want to use.
I have always been a bit of a technophile. Many years ago, in another life, when I worked in technology sales, I was one of the first sales engineers on my team to buy a personal laptop to use as a way to manage leads and accounts. The advantages of doing so over pen and paper became clear to me within weeks. I was able to track my activities more effectively and follow-up more precisely than my associates.
For similar productivity reasons, I also equip my home office with the best tools that make the most sense from a productivity standpoint. This has been true for both the years I worked out of my home office self-employed and as an employee.
I expected the tech I bought for my work to always be better than the tech that was provided to me by my employers. I grew to dislike the outdated computers, software and support services provided by employers. Why didn’t these employers invest in their employees to make them as productive as possible? There was never a good answer to that question.
However, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was an outlier. Most workers didn’t have personal computers and most appreciated whatever outdated green screen hardware and software was planted in front of them. Today, it’s the other way around: Employees don’t just want state-of-the-art technology that matches their work—they demand it.
Consider a recent note from research firm Gartner that found outdated technology pushes Australian workers away from their employers. In fact, Gartner’s “Q4 2018 Global Talent Monitor” found that technology now ranks ninth in the top 10 reasons Australian employees will leave their current role.
“People have become so used to advanced technology in their day-to-day lives, that they expect the same thing from their workplace. However, businesses are having a hard time matching the speed at which technology is adopted at home,” noted Aaron McEwan, human resources advisory leader at Gartner. “It’s not surprising that employees are becoming frustrated when they find themselves wasting valuable time navigating complicated systems and processes that utilize slow and old technology. It’s unproductive and inefficient for everyone involved.”
According to McEwan, businesses no longer can ignore the needs of their employees and must start thinking of them as they do their customers, making it a priority to offer a personalized, seamless and efficient experience.
This recent Gartner Australian survey taps into trends that have been underway for some time. A few years ago, Microsoft partnered with SurveyMonkey to conducted a survey of about 1,000 millennials in the United States. That survey found 93 percent of respondents said modern technology was one of the top aspects of a good workplace.
This isn’t just about new hardware or off-the-shelf software. It’s also about custom-built enterprise apps. For decades it has been accepted practice that enterprise software didn’t have to compete with consumer software, and poor-to-lackluster design was considered acceptable.
This is no longer the case. Most employees today are technically savvy and their enterprise apps are on their tablets and phones, right next to the consumer apps that they love to use.
Enterprise IT can try to force them to use leaden software, but this strategy increasingly is unlikely to prove productive. If they don’t like a collaboration platform, they’ll turn to one of the widely available cloud alternatives. If they don’t like the enterprise CRM, they’re likely to turn to Salesforce or a competitor.
When consumer apps are designed—think Evernote, Uber, Instagram or another favorite consumer mobile app—a considerable amount of thought is invested into the user interface and making the app enticing to use, designing an intuitive workflow and hiding complexity from the user into the background of the app. The same should be true for the enterprise apps designed for the enterprise.
A recent survey from Adobe found that 61 percent of 1,500 enterprise leaders believe organizations that don’t deploy mobile apps are at a competitive disadvantage. I’d take that a step further and conclude that deploying isn’t enough. But it’s more than simply deploying an app; organizations that don’t deploy effective and compelling apps will find they are at a competitive disadvantage.