Article | January 23, 2020

Empowering Employees Is The Key To The Digital Transformation

An interview with Ross Homans, Vice President Operational Programs Stratix.

With today’s rate of innovation, enterprises are constantly looking to gain an edge, wherever they can. From integrating cutting-edge solutions that make operations more efficient to transforming legacy processes, the time has come for companies to embrace the digital era. The key is empowering employees through this transformation as change requires the right connection between people and technology. Ross Homans, Vice President Operational Programs at Stratix, shares both insight and strategy on how enterprise leaders can take on this digital transformation with command and confidence.

Q: How has mobility progressed since the early years to the enterprise tool it is today?

Homans: In the early years, mobile devices were referred to as handheld computers. Prior to the concept of mobile as we now know it, we still needed to think outside the box for solutions to drive people to work smarter. At this time, it was a cottage industry but soon rose during the late 1990s and early 2000s with the convergence of Wi-Fi. This led to more standardization as Microsoft jumped in to build operating systems for specific, purpose-built devices. Carriers saw the need to create connections with new devices and thus, the rapid evolution of mobility was born.

From the late 1990s to early 2000s, we started referring to mobility, as well, mobility. Investment from a spectrum of corporations led to a quick expansion of the industry, that surprisingly started from an enterprise perspective. With Blackberries for the white-collar sector and rugged, purpose-built devices for the blue-collar side, there was a clear need for mobile devices across all sectors of industry. Consumers did not really become fully integrated with mobile technology until around 2010, three years after the first iPhone was released. This changed the way people lived and worked and jumpstarted “The Mobile Revolution.”

Enterprises quickly realized they needed to find a transformative way to deliver their services as they were quickly being outpaced by consumer technology. I saw firsthand the beginnings of this evolution of devices and how companies recognized the need to revitalize their business practices with mobile technology. It was further accelerated by the advent of cloud integration in social media and mobile. Those were the three underpinning platforms that created a foundation for companies to rethink how they go to market.

At Stratix we are delivering the technology and connecting all the parts and pieces for our clients. How do we operationalize these technology investments so that they can truly deliver transformative experiences for their customers? We also saw the need to create custom solutions for many different end users versus one standard. We are now in an era of the “Personalization of IT”, where companies are no longer able to create just one standard. The accessibility of technology is so vast that companies are needing to step back and look, from the inside out, how they can integrate the technology with their people. How they transform their processes to leverage  what’s exciting for many of our clients in changing the way they do business.

Q: What role do you think mobile technology plays in the digital transformation of the enterprise landscape, and how do employees’ factor into this?

Homans: Every company is looking for a leg up in today’s environment and mobility can be the catalyst for this. The right mobile program bridges cross-functional groups within a company and provides a  sturdy foundation allowing their employees to travel and perform their roles in a frictionless manner. We look to enable digital transformation via mobility. By looking at how mobile can make the jobs of employees easier and help to achieve business outcomes, we make a difference, particularly on the edge, where companies are delivering their product or service.

We believe companies need to inspire their employees to be a part of their digital transformation, and this requires  collaboration. Employees and end users need to feel invested in the process and receive a personalized digital experience. While  we are accustomed to living through mobile in our personal lives, the use-cases for businesses are vastly different. There are many processes and procedures end users must adhere to, and we aim to simplify this to make mobile an enhancement, not a disruption.

Our goal is to find connections between people, processes and technology to bridge IT with operations. We aim to empower employees, not overwhelm them with technology. The key is to have a support program handy to help take the pressure off internal teams.  Enterprise mobility is meant to take the friction out of this process to help our customers scale to their environment and focus on innovation in their processes. Companies are realizing that the speed of information and making sure they can answer a customer’s question or delivering information or product or service, must be powered by mobile technology. The expectation from the outside in, as consumers (because we rely so heavily on mobile), is any company that’s not leveraging this technology is somewhat behind the curve. -.

Q: Where does the customer experience intersect with the employee experience?

Homans: We all know many companies spend millions of dollars on marketing and advertising their unique brand, but too often a company falls short at that point in customer experience. Companies need to rethink how they manage the customer experience from the inside out. An excellent customer experience happens naturally when employees are engaged and connected to the company’s brand.

While businesses want to create a personalized experience for their customers, they need to first create a platform with employees to deliver on that personalized experience. Understanding the different customer touchpoints in business will lead to a more seamless experience for end users. Even though certain employees may never directly interface with a customer, they play a critical role in ensuring a seamless, integrated path to deliver exceptional customer experience.

Q: How can companies overcome obstacles to future proof their operations?

Homans: I think companies start out looking at the big picture and often forget about how we execute that vision in day-to-day operations. It requires thinking through a mountain of details. No matter what new tools or processes you put in place,  transformation will only be as effective as your employees embracing the change and being able to leverage the tools they’re given. Companies must offer the underpinning support programs to help them meet and ultimately exceed customer expectations. Employees need to be aligned, prepared and, again, supported to deliver on the desired customer experience. You also need the ability to continue to iterate and improve the end user mobile experience securely through those support programs like Mobile Device Management (MDM) Administration

Technology is just a tool. The face, the voice, the engagement outcome is the experience. While I enjoy talking about technology, what we help our customers understand and think about is when this goes live, how is that employee going to be able to deliver on those expectations you’ve branded for your company?

For the first time in the technology industry, we as big enterprises are interacting with and incorporating technology where the customer and the end user know more about it than the business. We try to take that fear, uncertainty and doubt from the mind of the end user. But we also try to instill, on the core IT of businesses, that this is very different and the investments you make will fail if these end users are not part of the program.