CEO speak: Meeting employee and customer techspectations

Think Progress Team

Monday 12 January 2015

In the space of a decade, the smartphone has evolved with breathtaking speed to become a gadget central to almost all our lives. For Mike Anderson, this is a clear example of the inexorable rise of mobile technology within the business model. He explains.

Ten years ago, a smartphone was a device that allowed you to sync your calendar, send an email, and maybe send a document or two. Today, it’s able to do a multitude of things. It can control your heating, order your shopping, ensure your home is secure and help you catch up on the latest television.

As for businesses, the smartphone is one of the catalysts that will significantly augment the way we work and thereby affect how successful we are.

In fact, I personally believe we are just at the start of a new industrial revolution – one that’s fuelled, like its predecessor, by new and awe-inspiring technology. Only this time, it’s digital technology that’s the force for change.

But companies have been worryingly slow to embrace the opportunities this revolution brings. As a result, this could mean a huge division in industry is in the offing. As the 21st century progresses, the winners and losers will be defined by those that adopted the right tech and mobilised their business, and those that didn’t. Put simply, those businesses that embrace technology will survive and thrive. Those that don’t, won’t.

Why? Because being mobile, investing in technology, and understanding the techspectations of your people and your customers is now a critical part of driving business success. Too many businesses are still not sufficiently prioritising mobility. They are turning a blind eye to a world that is changing fast around them. Unfortunately for them, their competitors are not.

For instance, the tech an employee has at home is, in fact, often significantly more advanced than the tech in the office where they work. That’s partly due to the democratisation of technology – but it’s also due to lack of investment by businesses, as well as a lack of understanding of what technology can do to mobilise a business, its workforce and its potential.

Smart employees, with smart devices, equal smarter businesses

Our recent ‘Techspectations’ study showed just how far behind some firms now are when it comes to fulfilling their employees’ technology expectations.

As part of the study, we contacted over 1,000 office workers to ask them about their experiences with technology in the workplace and in their homes. The results show the growing technological divide between UK businesses and their employees.

Whether it related to mobiles, tablets, computers, broadband or WiFi, the majority of our respondents said all were better at home than at work. This means that UK productivity is being hit and individuals are getting more and more frustrated, leading to a growing resentment between employee and employer. In one of our more startling results, 47 per cent of people said they would consider moving job because the tech in their workplace was so poor.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Companies should be embracing quicker, simpler, more efficient and better ways of mobilizing their employees and harnessing their people’s technological ambitions.

Demand more, be better

Those companies that do, see amazing results. Better productivity. Happier employees. Huge efficiencies. Positive revenue shifts. A company like KPMG is a great example of how to embrace mobilisation. There they’re clear on the benefits mobilisation can bring to them – the ability for their on-the-road workforce to keep track and update activities in real-time, mirroring their sales process and enabling them to deliver faster revenue forecasting.

They’re meeting their people’s techspectations because the investment the business has made in technology, via a complex but simple to use app, is something that an employee can’t create themselves, but will benefit from hugely.

Waitrose is another business that’s embracing technology to deliver a better employee and customer experience. We’ve helped them take their key internal systems from a screen in an office to the shop floor of every store. That means their employees now have live, dynamic access to their systems, allowing them to better engage with their customers.

Similarly, Kantar – the second largest market research company in the world – is another great example of a mobilised business that’s looking to exceed its employees’ techspectations. They have 28,000 employees in over 100 countries. They define their big challenge as “knowing what they know” – in other words, how they keep up with the millions of pieces of research that their teams are producing across the world. Through the clever use of technology, we’re helping them equip their global account directors with an up-to-date view of every piece of research in real-time.

With employees demanding more tech, and customers expecting smart, real-time engagement with the brands they deal with, businesses of all shapes and sizes – across every industry and in every sector – need to embrace the change that the second industrial revolution is bringing. Those that don’t will be very quickly find themselves relegated to the dark ages.

Mike Anderson is CEO of Chelsea Apps Factory, leaders in business mobilisation

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