Why do businesses buy new technology? Historically, it’s been an operational investment to reduce costs, simplify administration, speed up processes and measure results. These are admirable objectives – but they’re not differentiators. Also, they’re certainly not focused on the user experience.
For technology to transform organisations and enable them to outshine the competition, it needs to empower employees. The strength of a business solution should be judged on how it does things differently, more efficiently, more enjoyably and with better results.
It’s time we stopped looking at tech investment in terms of efficiencies, instead prioritizing its value as a talent enabler. With the right people experience, the rest will follow, and business technology will do more than generate ROI. Employee satisfaction and productivity will improve and customer service as a result.
Being quick, lean and data accountable isn’t a differentiator
We’re in the early stages of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’. Digital technologies are innovating business processes, and companies in all sectors recognize the improvements that software can deliver. The value of technology as a process accelerator, automation provider and information democratiser is widely known. Digital tools such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms are now affordable to businesses of all sizes.
But if every company is using technology to drive efficiency, then being quick, lean and data accountable is no longer a competitive differentiator. With the back-office running at full tilt, service companies rely on their employees being the differentiator.
In light of this, ERP software should be used to support employees’ ability to deliver services to the best effect. But given the layered, complex nature of many solutions on the market, fragmented and complicated systems prevent staff from leveraging their full potential. So, why aren’t more companies prioritizing user experience, to enhance business technology’s role in empowering people?
Don’t mistake efficiency for people power
On paper, it might look like people lie at the heart of technology investment, but efficiency is still the key driver.
The Economist Intelligence Research Unit recently found that while increasing employee productivity is the number one reason that companies put resource into new digital platforms, over half (53 per cent) of businesses think this investment is just an IT strategy under another name.
Make software a cultural investment. It should address business needs in a faster and more agile way. To ensure that ERP systems make life better for their employees, C-suite decision-makers need to focus on their human impact.
The questions CEOs should be asking aren’t just ‘can we do this quicker?’ or ‘where can we save costs?’. There needs to be more holistic, people-based considerations, such as ‘is technology enhancing my team, or getting in the way?’ and ‘can we be using software to improve people’s happiness and create new opportunities?’. Also, as operations are optimized and administrative tasks become streamlined, senior personnel should be looking at how talent can be upskilled and reskilled.
Let’s change the mindset for technology investment
There’s no use applying digital technology to legacy processes, objectives or values because it won’t generate significant change.
Companies are on the right track by recognizing that they can improve work performance by enhancing their digital infrastructure. To date, this investment has been focused on the wrong thing – operational efficiency – and that’s stopping companies from getting the full value from their ERP platform.
The truth of the matter is simple. If people are happy, supported, well-motivated and rewarded, they will push for better results.
Used in the right way, ERP software is very effective in empowering people to improve their communications, processes and workflows. It can also act as a catalyst for better training and skill development.
Employers should provide a self-motivated team with clear goals and a path for progression, with the tools at their disposal to perform at their best. When you look at things this way, it’s easy to see how a people-first approach will drive business-wide improvement – and, at the same time, make the office atmosphere more vibrant.
Unit4’s next-generation enterprise software supports our customers in delivering an exceptional People Experience to their customers – from students and professionals to the public servants and non-profits doing good in the world. Unit4 transforms work to be more meaningful and inspiring through software that’s self-driving, adaptive and intuitive, intelligently automating administrative tasks and providing easy access to the answers people need. Unit4 works with people the way people work.