Is it your people? Is it your technology? The real reason teams struggle to use digital tools effectively 

by | Feb 2, 2024 | Company, Industry

Digital workers are feeling overwhelmed

When it comes to introducing new software applications to a business, most organisations have the best of intentions. Whether it is to improve customer service or streamline processes to help teams work efficiently, a new software rollout intends to improve how a business functions. And yet, this is rarely the case. Instead of seeing teams thrive with the use of their digital tools, we’re often met with frustration and digital workers feeling overwhelmed.

A recent survey by Gartner found the average number of applications a digital worker, also referred to as a “knowledge worker,” uses is 11, compared to six in 2019. In addition, the survey found 47% of digital workers struggle to find the information needed to effectively perform their jobs. 

“Employees struggle to stay afloat as information and applications flood their digital workplace. Although digital workers are putting in effort to try to efficiently manage this content to try and reduce duplication and/or improve knowledge sharing and retention, finding the information needed to do their jobs can often be a challenge,” 

Like scope creep on a project, the average digital worker is suffering from application creep and information overload. They’re spending a lot more time finding information, updating data and getting up to speed with the latest applications, it’s taking time away from the core roles.

The solution? Less isn’t necessarily more.

If the problem lies in having too many applications, the logical next step would typically be to consolidate them. But what if each application had a true and promising purpose? This is where digital effectiveness comes in. It’s not the kind of applications you have nor the number, what truly matters is how effectively your teams are using them.

Digital effectiveness refers to how successfully an organisation leverages its digital tools, technologies, and strategies to achieve its goals. It’s measured by a team’s proficiency in using digital tools, the ability to adapt to technology updates, and whether the technology they’ve implemented achieved the desired business goals e.g. improve customer service, increase visibility of sales pipeline. Essentially, digital effectiveness measures how well an organisation uses its digital resources to enhance productivity, innovation, and competitiveness in today’s increasingly digitalised world.

The impact of poor digital effectiveness

If your organisation has a low level of digital effectiveness, consider the impact of having 11 software applications that aren’t being utilised to their full potential.

A lack of investment in your people when technology is introduced or upgraded, may have result in your team struggling to adopt the new way of working and you may lose good people who are frustrated trying to keep up with technology changes.

If your processes are not fully documented, hard to access and/or unclear then your people are most likely confused about what information is expected from them. This results in the quality of data in your systems being poor, meaning that you can’t confidently make decisions based on the information in your reports.

If your platform has been upgraded, but the most valuable features of your technology are not being used, your team is missing out on opportunities to work more efficiently, and you are most likely still spending your precious time on being the go-to support person.

The three critical areas you need to address

Often teams with a lack of digital effectiveness have gaps in three areas: their people, their platforms, and their processes. Here’s where you can turn these gaps into opportunities to help your teams work smarter.

1. People: Continue to invest in your people – not just when it’s time to go live

Typically, people are offered training when new technology is introduced – training which caters to the needs of the people and the functionality available at that point in time. But it doesn’t consider new features or process changes. Technology is continually evolving, upskilling your team will mean they can keep up with changes.

When investing in new technology, most organisations choose subscription-based technology solutions. As part of your subscription the vendor will be releasing new features at a rapid pace, often as frequently as every three months. If you are not providing your team with the opportunity to upgrade their skills at the same rate, they are getting left behind, and you are not realising the full value of your investment in technology.

By making an ongoing investment in your people, continuing to increase their skills and knowledge in line with changes to your business processes and improvements to your platform, you will achieve a higher level of digital effectiveness. For example, if you were to provide education on system features as they become available alongside regular reinforcement of existing features and their benefits, people will continuously improve their skills and therefore be better equipped to work more effectively. 

2. Platforms: Optimise how your platforms are being used

To optimise means to “make the best or most efficient use of” your technology.  In other words, to create a platform that is the best fit for your organisation and helps people achieve the desired outcome with little or no wasted time or effort. Your people need to believe the platform adds value to their job and makes their job easier to do. It helps them to be more successful, rather than hinder their progress. 

The reality of introducing new technology is that we can only really build to meet the needs of our people and processes at a point in time. However, people and processes are not static, they change. As your business evolves, your platform needs to evolve too. If your platform is not growing in line with your business, your people will find reasons to stop using it and the overall performance of your business will be impacted.

3. Processes: Make it easy to find and follow your business processes

Imagine you have skilled people and an optimised platform. That is all you need, right? Wrong. Outside of people and platforms, there are rules around how and when things need to be done.  

Let’s compare this to our drive to work. We have cars (people) and roads (platform) but without road rules (processes) we will have a problem. If one person thinks green means go but another thinks it means stop, there will be chaos. A big part of why you feel safe and confident on your journey is that there is a shared understanding of the rules.  

The same applies to business. It is important to have a common understanding of your unique business processes, your shared terminology, when to complete particular tasks, where to go for help, and most importantly people need to know how to find and read the signs. The easier it is to find and follow your business processes or rules, the less chaotic it will be.  

A digitally effective organisation will have properly defined processes that evolve as the business does. But just as importantly, these processes will be easy for people to find and to follow. 

How digitally effective is your organisation?

Digitally effective organisations need to be thriving in these 3 critical areas: people, process and platform. We have pioneered an innovative approach to assess the degree of digital effectiveness in your organisation.  

Get in touch with us today to find out your digital effectiveness score or click here for more information on our Digital Effectiveness Index.  

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