Today’s technology company: role of digital in the workplace

  • Posted on July 13, 2015

Historically, technology has been seen as an enabling tool and distinctly separate from the business.  Put another way, in the past, one would point to a company down in Silicon Valley and say that it is a technology company, not my agricultural equipment business.  However, in today’s digital business era, an evolution of mindset has unleashed a wave of rapid disruption and innovation that has impacted business models, talent recruiting and retention, and customer satisfaction and loyalty.  This mindset shift is that technology *is* the business with digitization as the driving force that democratizes innovation and enables the realization of results at speed.

Companies like LinkedIn, Pandora, Uber, and a transformed John Deere operate in the professional networking, music, transportation, and heavy equipment industries, but in reality, they are often referred to – and refer to themselves – as technology companies. Technology creation and application are – regardless of the products and services they ultimately deliver – core elements of their innovative and disruptive outcome-focused business models. So, if the distinction between a business that uses technology and a technology business is no longer meaningful, what does it mean to be a technology company today?

Being a technology company today means being mindful and strategic about who and what your workforce is. If we agree that technology is the business and that every company is therefore a technology company, the reality is that every organization is now a technology organization and we’re all competing for the same, limited human talent pool. The ability to embrace this perspective results in a new class of companies that are shaking up and energizing every industry sector from financial services to energy and health, to automotive, retail, and beyond. Those organizations that don’t adapt to this new reality are being made irrelevant and will be overtaken by more agile, responsive, and data-driven digital businesses.

Once you free up space to be able to be creatively disruptive internally, one of the first steps on this journey will be the implementation of your digital workplace, wherein a new class of blended “digital talent” works seamlessly together. This new blended workforce is made up of intelligent software, ‘things’, and humans.  The digital workplace challenge is to leverage the unique traits of each (i.e., unlimited compute and memory for intelligent software, the ability to go where humans cannot with things, and the ability of humans to apply judgement) to not only be more productive, but also be more effective within your business context.

Imagine, for example, a retail setting where store associates are equipped with machine learning solutions that can predict customer volume, sentiment, behavior, and desires and personalize that first greeting. Armed with this insight, how might an associate or even the store itself be able to better serve their customers? Can customers interact with products in the store in a way that acknowledges who they are and their loyalty through past purchases? Can the shirt on the hanger offer a loyal customer an exclusive price “just for you” when they take it off the rack?

In this new blended workforce paradigm, this partnership of intelligent software and things in the environment frees up human talent to do higher-order tasks that deliver differentiated and emotionally connected customer service thus increasing brand loyalty as well as job satisfaction for the employee.

The digital revolution is upon us and a shift in mindset is Step One. Is your organization equipped to be on the forefront of your company’s digitally-enabled transformation? Are you embracing the fact that technology is your business and are you defining initiatives that seek to reimagine your digital workplace and workforce?  Are you creating a digital workplace where technology is enabling your human talent to apply their technique achieving market relevance and business longevity?

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