Companies Without People: How Digital Denial Undermines Business Success
A pernicious bit of denial is eroding the ability of many companies to compete in the Age of the Customer. That denial manifests in the mistaken belief that it’s technology—not people or culture—that is most critical to business success.
That’s false. In fact, in the Age of the Customer, your people and your culture are more important than ever. So if you don’t diligently ensure that your technology strategy supports superlative employee performance and a super-healthy corporate culture, you won’t succeed with customers. And that’s a death sentence for your company.
What Tech Can and Can’t Do
Of course, great technology can do wonders for your relationship with your customers. Digital self-service, analytics-driven cross-selling, and IoT-based value-adds are all awesome. So it is imperative that companies fully leverage technology to provide more value to customers and to deliver great experiences that promote loyalty and larger share-of-wallet.
Unfortunately, because technology is so awesome, business leaders tend to develop a mental map that looks something like this:
This is a horrendous way of viewing technology for many reasons—but here are the two main ones:
1) Customers hate it. Sure, customers like digital. And some may only want to deal with you via an app. But great multi-channel customer engagement requires great employees. That’s why, if you notice, so many companies now tout the human touch they bring to customer care.
2) It’s not competitively differentiated. Empirical evidence plainly shows that 99% of all technology only provides competitive parity—not innovative differentiation. Sorry, tech sector. But for every Uber and Airbnb, there are 99 companies deploying “me-too” capabilities because someone else already has them. That’s not a bad thing. It does, however,prove that the above map is badly defective.
Tech-Empowered People, Tech-Empowered Culture
A far superior mental map of technology looks like this:
This map highlights the fact that you need market-savvy people to make technology really pay off in a world where customers engage across multiple channels and human decision-making remains central to business success.
To make this map work, though, you can’t just focus on technology—as the defective map above it implies. You also have to rigorously focus on how you connect your technology to your people.
And that’s where so many companies drop the ball. It actually seems like they think they can modernize everything about their business except the way they provision users’ digital workspaces.
But precisely the opposite is true. Your investments in technology will only optimally pay off if you substantially re-think the way you connect people with technology. Can you quickly get people the digital resources they need, when they need them? Can you do this quickly while still maintaining cyber-safety? And can you drive cost out of the process even as your digital resource portfolio keeps growing?
These are the challenges RES uniquely addresses. And it’s why every company seeking to excel in the digital-centric Age of the Customer should be talking to us.