How does today’s enterprise IT environment keep pace with its workers? CIOs need to be able to meet the needs of tech-savvy digital individuals who have higher expectations of workplace technology than ever before.
Being a CIO in today’s enterprise carries many challenges. The pressure is on to empower business units, contribute to the bottom line and create innovative ideas and systems regularly, while enabling the most demanding generation of workers we’ve ever known. One Orange customer, Heather Bell, VP of Strategy at global healthcare company Sanofi, told our recent Hello! World event audience, “CIOs really need to juggle basics like Wi-Fi coverage and email with remote access on a global scale but at the same time be able to be a strategic thought partner to the different parts of the business dealing with digital transformation. They must also be able to respond to the innovators who pop up in unexpected parts of the business saying 'Hey I have a problem that I think technology could solve and don’t you think we could try something?' [CIO] is a tremendously exciting role, could not be more critical strategically and I think it is hugely challenging too”.
The ‘Netflix normal’ challenge
Digital individuals expect technology to be present, on their terms, everywhere. In their smart home they have the digital tools to give them what they want, when they want, and this is the expectation that they now have of their workplace.
The enterprise must accommodate the ‘digital native’ generation, end-users who have never known or experienced a world without superfast broadband, mobile internet, social media and high quality streamed video. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to this generation of users is taken entirely for granted.
Not that long ago, social media was banned or blocked in many workplaces – today being able to use social media in the office is regularly cited as a factor in many digital natives' selection of a place to work As such enterprises have now engaged with employees on their own terms, creating their own social platforms using tools like Jive, similar to the Plazza social collaboration platform we built at Orange. It is vital enterprises give employees the same end-user experience they have elsewhere.
It is now almost 60 years since Peter Drucker predicted the rise of the knowledge worker. “The most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution, whether business or non-business, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity,” he said. Incredibly prescient, but the imperative in the digital enterprise is about networking those knowledge workers, retaining them and keeping them satisfied and therefore more productive.
The digital individual in the enterprise - everybody benefits
The digital enterprise can empower workers by combining the latest digital tools with smart approaches to roles and responsibilities. By embracing and leveraging digital technology, enterprises create competitive advantage, boost employee engagement and lower their costs. At the most basic level, when employees can access the information and resources they need at any time and from any place – just like they are used to doing at home – they are able to perform their jobs more effectively.
When all areas of the business are brought into the IT tent, new opportunities emerge. As an example, if the HR department is empowered to choose technology tools and solutions relevant to them, they can drive digital transformation in the company by empowering employees. In turn we then see this new advance as an opportunity for a new ‘customer’ outside traditional IT functions – opening up whole new avenues for innovation. At Orange we organize Portfolio User Groups where customers look at the future of particular solutions and where they might go – so this year we’ve invited HR departments in addition to the traditional IT invitees. Who knows what ideas we might come up with?
IT is the enabler for the digital transformation of the enterprise and the conduit along which the entire change in philosophy takes place. At Orange we have seen that as customers have become more demanding and expectant, so too have their workers and our workers. And to compete and thrive, you must embrace this transformation and become the digital enterprise that empowers digital individuals – or risk being left behind.
This article first appeared on LinkedIn Pulse here.
Helmut joined Orange Business Services in 2007 to head up Europe and Russia. He is now CEO of Orange Business Services.