When dealing with the crisis, some nations fared better than others. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was decisive, swift, and effective in its response, and now the country’s economy is in recovery. In February, Fitch Solutions predicted the UAE’s real GDP growth to reach 4.6% in 2022, compared with 3.4% in 2021.
Now businesses face the challenge of sharing in this success. Recovery periods traditionally claim casualties, so competitiveness has become more than just a bullet-point in a boardroom presentation. Digital transformation was made necessary by the crisis, but because it happened on such a scale and at such incredible speed, for many it has exposed operational weaknesses that must be addressed.
Various studies have shown us that despite massive spending on transformation, the number of projects that yield positive ROI is a disappointing minority. And many stakeholders are confounded by the results because pre-project expectations were high. The problem is rarely ambition; the GCC region has no shortage of that. And it is not even strategy. No, the problem is fragmentation of systems. Silos — of data people and processes — mean technology cannot have the impacts on efficiency and productivity that lead to ROI.
Now imagine being the customer or employee of such an organisation. When innovation fails because of ineffective underlying architecture, both customer and employee may disengage from the brand. And it goes without saying that both are required for sustainable growth. Such a business is neither a disrupter nor an industry leader. It is, at best, an “also ran”, and at worst, on the road to failure.
To avoid this path, regional technology leaders must convince line of business owners of the virtues of consolidation and collaboration. Consolidation refers to the streamlining of operations and the elimination of silos. And collaboration refers to a new view of data sharing — business performance can be greatly enhanced by dismantling linear processes and replacing them with an ecosystem of data and resources that move freely between customers, suppliers, partners, and even competitors. It is also vital to empower employees to make real-time decisions. This will deliver the business agility necessary to react to market changes as they happen. To be agile is to be competitive.
The employee and the world
In the digital age, customer-facing employees bring a lot more knowledge-based contributions to the table than ever before. Attracting and retaining the talent required to capitalise on that capability has become paramount. The pandemic threw into sharp relief a series of issues concerning work-life balance, health and wellness, and job satisfaction. At the same time, lockdowns established that remote, flexible work was not only possible, but of great benefit to both employee and employer.
Businesses need to balance the employee experience with the customer experience. If employees are happy and can work collaboratively and easily with the tools and technologies at their disposal, then customers will naturally receive a better experience from that company. To achieve this balance requires the thoughtful development of a corporate culture that is open, inclusive, and nurturing and the implementation of technology that enables employees to get work done without being bogged down by cumbersome processes.
Employees that know where their contributions fit in the broader business mission are more likely to deliver outstanding CX, which boosts the bottom line. These employees are also more likely to remain with the company and act as encouragement for the next wave of new hires.
A platform for change
To transform the world of work, ensure employee productivity and job satisfaction, and drive impactful customer experiences, we must implement the right platform for the job. The optimal platform will help us get the most out of existing technology tools and processes via a simple interface, allowing technology leaders to deliver quick wins and enhance buy-in from other business leaders.
Over time, platforms that eliminate system fragmentation deliver genuine business resilience. And they allow technologists to offer great digital experiences to employees and customers. Meanwhile, boosts to efficiency lay the groundwork for ROI from digital transformation programs.
The cultural changes required to realise the digital vision of a company are many. They are deep and they are broad. Departmental silos will be supplanted by cross-team collaboration and innovation. And industry-specific focuses will be uprooted to make way for industry-agnostic approaches.
Once the right technology is in place, the work is not done. In fact, it is just beginning. Businesses that differentiate themselves today may be ordinary, or even subpar, tomorrow, if they do not continually evolve. Whether a company is trying to streamline employee experiences and processes or understand its customers better, digital transformation never stops. Platforms need to be ever ready to workflow a better world.