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Mapping digital workplace insights to business value context

  • Posted on April 24, 2017

Most enterprise organizations are traveling along the journey to digital today.  There is no definitive measuring stick for how digital they have become but that does not stop them from continuing to invest and trying to find that edge to define new opportunities.

Investments take many different shapes ranging from IT modernization, mobile investments, the automation of business processes, or the massive spend to take advantage of the vast amounts of data generated by today’s business and consumers.  Therefore, investors get onboard with the hope that the investment will drive up customer and shareholder value in a world where new competitors are born with a digital edge.

Measuring Business Value of IT Investments

Regardless of the investment type, companies traveling along the path to digital transformation need to understand how those investments are creating value.  This starts with measurement.  Measurement infers there is data to be measured, data with the right context showing useful business value.

It still amazes me how many organizations are collecting data (more now than ever of course), and in turn, reporting on that data with very little insight gleaned from the inherent potential wealth that data should offer.  I attribute that deficit of value to something very simple: context.  Companies have leveraged historical reporting (the proverbial ‘view through the rear windshield’) for decades and so many continue to do the same with new data they collect today.  How do we drive insights from the data?  We need context for a better understanding of how that data drives a certain truth about the business and the actions of its customers and employees, both historically and prescriptively for the future.

For example, many organizations have realized the value of moving to as-a-service offerings for many back-office applications like Office 365 (O365). Our clients make significant investment in O365 for obvious IT infrastructure benefits, the ability to offer the latest features to employees, and the promise of higher levels of collaboration within the workplace.  The TCO calculations for IT savings are straightforward but more can be extracted if we understand the use of these tools in terms of how they impact real business value.  By real business value I mean activities that drive revenue, higher customer satisfaction, employee productivity, engagement, or new methods of cost savings.  We need to put the use of these tools into a context that shareholders will find meaningful.

Deriving Insights from Digital Employee Experiences

While Microsoft is making more and more measurement tools available to its customers to help them understand levels of usage and adoption, the question of context remains.  Does looking at historical numbers really deliver business benefit or indicate the value being derived from their use?  If I see that I have 18GBs of documents in OneDrive, does this really move the needle for anyone?

Avanade’s Digital Employee Experience offering is anchored in an analytics solution we call Digital Workplace Insights.  While it includes measures of adoption and usage, we see the value in delivering insights that are tied more directly to the value-based, digital objectives I mentioned above.

Recently, one of our clients, a global consumer packaged goods producer, set out on a journey to redefine their employee’s digital experience.  This new campaign was supported by the insights delivered by Digital Workplace Insights on the adoption and usage patterns of Microsoft Exchange.  Their hybrid environment (over 100k mailboxes mixed between on-premises servers and Exchange Online in O365) was easily supported by Avanade’s Modern Analytics Platform (AMAP).  Our solution is built on this modern analytics platform, which allows clients to expand their understanding across the larger application ecosystem (line of business systems, CRM, HR data, etc.).  The resulting insights allowed our client to understand how their tools were being used so they could pivot effectively to define their new path.

Getting Answers to Value-Based Questions

Deriving insights does not just become transparent when the data starts to flow.  Similar to the path to becoming digital, this is a journey.  We need to walk before we run.  Digital Workplace Insights help organizations first understand key digital behaviors by understanding the adoption and effective use of digital tools like Office 365.

With this treasure trove of data, we can now begin to correlate key digital behaviors with our traditional business measurements and answer value-based questions:

  • Does the effective use of SharePoint or OneDrive move the needle for our sellers?
  • Do those exhibiting good digital behaviors correlate to a higher percentage of quota attainment?
  • How about when we consider the use of these tools with related sales activity in CRM – does this mix change the game?
  • Does the department with a high level of digital engagement have lower attrition

If you are investing millions of dollars in digital tools, I can say with confidence, having contextual insights into how your investments impact the business seems like a pretty important piece of the digital transformation puzzle.

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