There are 75,357,094 millennials in the US.
Why should you care?
Because global leaders such as GE and MasterCard are transforming their cultures to appeal to a new generation of customers and employees. During the next decade, we’re going to see profound changes in the ways we expect to work with partners, some of whom we may only encounter through digital interactions.
Digital Change Is Knocking
The type of office culture that a company cultivates will either attract or discourage people from working with your enterprise. Is your company prepared for a new wave of expectations?
Market forces and technology innovations are continually springing new challenges onto companies that want to cultivate innovative work environments. The availability of mobile devices has significantly impacted expectations of employees, as well as what they expect from us.
Digital natives expect mobile, tablet and touch-based user interfaces to be a part of their work tools because they use those screens for almost everything else in their lives.
From commerce to banking to social interactions, each engagement with a consumer app creates a new user experience benchmark that enterprises with high-performance workforces must acknowledge and compare themselves to.
Businesses are hustling to deliver updated workflow experiences, but implementing applications that are easy-to- use and function with zero latency have been a challenge.
Shifting Mindset to Mobile
Companies have been overwhelmed over the past few years, attempting to transition their business apps to mobile devices to make their work environments more efficient and intuitive. The motivation to do so is more urgent than ever before.
Nearly half of US consumers have shifted their mindset to mobile, according to a 2016 Forrester report on the future of mobile. By 2020, Forrester predicts, 5.4 billion smartphones will be in the hands of consumers worldwide. This has major ramifications for businesses, large and small.
A digital transformation can move a company closer to operational excellence by offering new tools that boost agility, enable rapid growth, and create concrete competitive advantages.
However, new tools are simply the foundation upon which your new digital culture will live. Once the tools are in the hands of employees, what happens next? And how does that drive growth? It starts with digitizing your workflows.
Digitizing your company’s business processes converts a physical, multi-touch process into a malleable stream of data points.
Millennials are accustomed to calibrating or editing all of their digital activities with the touch of an icon. This consumer behavior, paired with cloud technology, gives businesses the opportunity to redraw their workflows across geographies, and in turn increase the quality of their workforce.
Additionally, these digital workflows create analytic data that bolters rapid decision-making.
Companies that leverage these new tools will ascend to the top of their industries. The journey up that escalator is not a passive process.
Strategies for Digital Transformation
A digital transformation initiative can take a significant amount of time to execute. The baseline expectation is that if you give employees new technology, operations will improve. But, that is only the first step.
You’ll need to factor in time for user experience redefinition and worker enablement, among other things.
Depending on the skill sets of your employees, you may need to spend more time on one of these core areas than others. For example, you may need to create training programs to fill in some of the skill gaps across your workforce.
Addressing Workplace Challenges
Everyone on the team needs different resources to fulfill a role within the organization. If your have a geographically dispersed workforce, you may need to create standard operating procedures documentation to ensure that everyone knows what is expected.
Every enterprise will have unique challenges to address.
As an enterprise moves forward with its digital transformation journey, not everything will go right the first time. Companies should build in time to correct mid-course, because everyone learns and changes at a different pace; and things don’t always fall into place perfectly on the first iteration. This is a process that shouldn’t be rushed—nor deferred.
Driving Digital Transformation
Logically, you may expect that the highest-ranking person in a company is the motivating force for digital transformation. However, pockets of innovation may also form at the departmental and regional levels, when a visionary person on the team spearheads the process.
A few recurring catalysts inspire these champions of organizational change. One of the primary drivers is the desire to leverage mobile technology to create operational efficiencies.
In some instances, the associated end goal is to create a paperless office and thereby reduce the company’s carbon footprint. In other instances, it’s the need to more effectively track KPIs across divisions.
Across the board, the technology interaction preferences of today’s workers and customers are motivating companies to change the way they operate in order to remain competitive.
Digital Culture Drives Growth
Embracing the demand for mobile work environments is vital for a company that wants to appeal to digital natives. It enables stakeholders to position the company for growth in ways that impact all levels of the organization.
C-suite executives can obtain access to macro-data that guides their decisions. Access to real-time, performance data about their entire operation empowers them to make decisions that impact the company’s fiscal health.
Instead of waiting for an employee to research the data and prepare it for viewing, they can simply open up a laptop or mobile device and view the data from anywhere in the world, whenever they want to view it
At the regional or line of business level, supervisors and managers can gain insight into the safety and health of employees, regulatory compliance, and product quality data. Remarkably, many industries, such as manufacturing and distribution, are still using pen- and-paper based tasks to capture this information.
Translating the amount of human and material resources required to prepare those reports into dollars is illuminating. The annual savings from eliminating paper records, and the cost of storing them, could be reinvested into a new product line or a service. These are growth opportunities that shouldn’t be ignored.
Mobile Options Improve Productivity
On the ground floor, geographically distributed workforces can more efficiently complete the tasks for which they’re responsible. For example, regularly scheduled safety audits can be hundreds of questions long and often must be filed in duplicate.
Digitizing that process and making it accessible on a mobile device can lead to major timesavings. A mobile application can empower an employee to tap through one digital work stream and enhance it with native mobile capabilities, such as photos.
This simple mobile feature that most of us don’t think about anymore has the power to increase the accuracy and timeliness of reports by ten fold. When a work task is completed on a mobile device it can be instantly uploaded to the cloud and made available to all stakeholders, which saves labor hours.
Another specific example is a workers compensation claim process, which requires multiple witness reports. If everyone is not in the same room at the same time, how much time does engaging all those stakeholders take?
If you can text them a link to a digital form that’s stored in the cloud, it takes less than a second for each one. If you can automate that notification process, you don’t even need to think about it. The software does the work for you.
This is the essence of the digital transformation process: The ability to leverage technology to position your company to adapt to change.
Whether you need to create transparency, improve accuracy, or simply obtain data to make faster decisions, the best way to do that is to take the first step in your digital transformation journey. The quality of your future workforce depends on it.
Pankaj Malviya is the Founder & CEO of Pulpstream, his third bootstrap venture. He has successfully lead two technology ventures in the past to successful acquisitions.