Technology changes the way we work in ways that staff could never imagine just a few years ago. The combination of better mobile tools, digitised business processes and improving connectivity has created a perfect storm that allows savvy enterprises to revolutionise the way they do business.
Many organisations see connectivity as focussing on getting devices linked to the network. As long as the pieces of the communications chain can all interconnect, they see their connectivity challenges as resolved. However, physical connectivity is only part of the solution. In order for a business to be truly digital, its business processes need to change as well. That means finding digital solutions for manual processes.
“For example, when a contract is signed it might be sent digitally but then printed for signing. Then it’s scanned again and sent back where it is printed, countersigned and scanned once more. For two parties that have made an agreement it’s a logistically heavy experience,” explained Carlo Platania, Business Program Manager, Telstra.
“By making processes more efficient we are not only driving productivity but also we’re driving costs out of the business. There are also environmental benefits.”- Carlo Platania, Business Program Manager, Telstra
Doing that digitally with commercially sensitive data requires taking a holistic view of the business process – from the devices used to how devices and people connect – and looking for tools that make it possible to retain a secure process without sacrificing convenience and productivity.
“There’s a fine balance [to strike] between an extremely secure, locked-down, easier-to-support environment versus what we’re used to in our personal lives, where we can download whatever we want,” said Brent Southey, Telstra’s General Manager for Enterprise Collaboration.
Striking that balance has required the use of a number of different tools. For example, DocuSign, a cloud service, makes it possible to electronically sign documents. That negates the need to print, sign and scan documents multiple times.
“By making processes more efficient we are not only driving productivity but we’re driving costs out of the business,” Platania explains. “There are also environmental benefits as we reduce the use of paper.”
There are also other benefits. For example, documents can be more easily retrieved as electronic documents can be stored on-site and indexed more efficiently than manual systems. Furthermore, by untethering staff from lugging folders of documents around, they are able to spend more time with customers.
Transforming a business into digital natives where everyday tasks such as data entry and information retrieval are simplified through digitisation, creates new opportunities that help businesses grow through improved service and greater differentiation from their competitors.
“Although we often have mobile capability from end to end, there’s often paper involved,” explained Platania. “Our aim is to make the process 100 per cent digital. We’ve seen up to 90% reduction in turnaround time with a large majority of contracts ‘accepted’ in less than one hour, saving time and money.
WISE Employment is a not-for-profit company that delivers employment services to disadvantaged unemployed people. In many cases, WISE Employment’s clients are dealing with mental illness, physical disabilities or social challenges following being released from custody or other challenging circumstances.
WISE CIO Michael Havill says many of the existing manual processes and systems are unreliable.
“We needed good mobile data communications, as we needed to be able to connect to government systems from remote offices that might only operate one day each week,” Havill explains.
After reviewing past IT projects and looking ahead at what the company would need, Havill led WISE towards mobile devices and digital technologies that would enable greatly improved services.
“We gave staff modern hardware with unlimited data and voice connections for work and personal, while reducing our overall communication costs,” Havill says. “This increased the productivity of the staff by about 25 per cent. People were able to work during the day and finish things off at home. Staff morale improved significantly. We’ve become an employer of choice as a result of this.”
As well as making staff happier, clients have benefited, and government compliance has been simplified.
“Everything is much more dynamic,” Havill says. “Staff are moving around as they talk on mobile phones and they are able to carry ultrabooks to chat with clients and meet them in more relaxed settings, rather than the old way with people sitting in small offices behind a desk. Capturing data through mobile devices means there are a lot fewer errors, so we’re able to meet our compliance obligations more easily.”
The net result has been happier clients as well as improved system availability.
“We’ve gone from being 95 per cent available to our clients to 99.9 per cent, while reducing costs and improving services,” Havill says.
Five things you need to know about technology and work:
- End-to-end digital processes enable staff to be more productive
- Integrity and reliability don’t have to be sacrificed when digitising a process
- Good systems and equipment gives a serious boost to morale and productivity
- Digitisation doesn’t have to be expensive now that commodity cloud services can help
- The right processes and equipment will put you in closer touch with your customers.