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The Often Ignored Aspect of Digital Transformation

By KT Ong, Country Manager, Dell EMC Malaysia

It is the era of productivity. From PCs to smartphones, a wide variety of technologies are available to empower employees to personalise their work styles. However, at a more macro level, adopting these technologies into the workforce has hit a roadblock for the organisations, as they have not been able to evolve their infrastructure at the same pace to keep up with employee expectations.

A multitude of factors are at play here, from the size of the organisation to the costs and disruptions of constantly revamping systems to upgrade them. But there is a greater danger for organisations in not transforming their workforce with new technologies – low employee morale and productivity combined with security concerns. This in turn could have a ripple effect on customers’ experience and their trust in the organisation, which would subsequently impact profitability.

KT Ong

KT Ong

A research on how Digital Transformation (DX) is Reshaping the IT Services Market in Malaysia revealed that approximately one-third of organisations in Malaysia have begun their digital transformation journey. As enterprises in Malaysia are faced with fierce competition and price war to win customers, it is becoming increasingly crucial to leverage digital technologies as much as possible to deliver superior customer service experience and create competitive advantage through product differentiation[1]. Workforce transformation needs to be a key emphasis of the overall digital transformation strategy to reinvent the business. As the digital-first mindset of customers permeates the workplace, IT and business leaders should equip employees with the right tools and boost their productivity.

The workforce is an asset for the organisations whose value will be enhanced by investing in technologies to empower them. A complete and secure transformation of the workforce is required for organisations to be agile and develop a strong and sustainable business model in the digital era.

According to a study on Workforce Transformation from Forrester, commissioned by Dell, 48% of Southeast Asia (SEA) business leaders felt that better devices and understanding device diversity are key to enabling their workforce effectively and retaining these talents. In the digital era, enabling the workforce with technology is a deliberate strategy to foster high performance and excellence. It begins with understanding that employee experience, customer experience, and revenue growth are decisively linked.

There is an opportunity for organisations to differentiate themselves by providing employees access to the IT resources they need to stay fully engaged. This in turn will have positive effects on customer satisfaction, ultimately driving revenue growth for the organisations. Remote access to enterprise applications, productivity tools and providing more device options to the workforce are the key priorities for employee-centered activities.

Security strategy: Enabler or Hindrance?

With the implementation of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) and an increasingly mobile workforce, the threats to IT security have also increased and earned a higher top of mind recall. The complexity of the IT environment due to diverse devices, coupled with growing sophistication of security threats, outdated security policies and easy information access have made endpoint devices increasingly vulnerable.

In fact, 81% of respondents are concerned about the legal liability issues arising from BYOD policies, while 44% said that organisation-wide breaches originate from employee devices. However, 75% of respondents said that replacing older PC hardware with newer PC hardware will significantly improve the security landscape for organisations.

Endpoint has always been a focus of attacks from hackers. However, now it has become a larger issue with the increase in information which can be accessed from one device. Organisations have not updated their policies in line with changing workforce trends and needs. Increasing adoption of diverse business and consumer technology, and use of various end user computing and internet-of-things (IoT) devices has made uniformed security policies obsolete. For example, a creative designer and a supply chain manager are bound to have different needs and require different tools and devices. A rigid security policy applied to both will hamper their style of working. Also, data security policies are a checkbox item rather than a well-thought-out schema.

 Servicing the employee needs through adequate back-end infrastructure

Existing workforce enablement policies don’t work for companies striving to operate in a customer-obsessed operating model where employees depend on technology to win, serve, and retain customers. Organisations designed most existing employee technology policies for a one-size-fits-all model that had a single PC and mobile device that employees could use for work. In the context of today’s workforce, where employees use their personal devices for work which often involve using multiple devices, and subscribe to a more mobile work style, it is imperative that workforce technology adapts to the needs and requirements of its employees more closely to deliver more positive impact.

IT organisations have to find a fine balance between managing budgetary constraints, delivering efficient IT support for the entire PC lifecycle, and enabling enhanced productivity and workforce experience. It is evident that firms in SEA do not have adequate in-house skills.

Ensuring the workforce remains productive in a digital world

Considering the challenges, workforce transformation would seem like a daunting task for organisations. The key is to find the right balance between business and IT objectives. There are a few important steps which organisations should follow as they embark on this workforce transformation journey:

  • Assemble a cross-functional working group to define the approach to workforce experience and communicate the strategy back to the company as a whole
  • Shift focus towards fostering employee productivity to improve customer experience and grow revenue
  • For every key security decision, consider how it will affect employee productivity and choose the least impactful method that still delivers excellent security
  • Choose the most secure device hardware and supplement it with authentication, network, and data security as part of the endpoint security strategy
  • Find a fine balance between managing budgetary constraints, delivering efficient IT support and enabling enhanced productivity and workforce experience
  • Shift support responsibilities outside the organisation to take advantage of the expertise of third party vendors while lowering the burden on internal IT departments to allow them to focus on productive tasks

Undertaking workforce transformation is no longer optional for organisations. Employees will adopt devices and applications which enable them to be more productive and suit their preferred work style. The strategy which business and IT leaders adopt to align employee experience to improve customers experience while maintaining security and controlling costs will ultimately determine their ability to compete in the digital era.

[1] IDC Reveals that Malaysia Lags Behind ASEAN with Only 34% of Organisations Embarking on Digital Transformation, May 2016

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