The key to successful cloud technology implementation lies with the workforce

Cloud tech at work
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John Stokoe
Head of Strategic Development EuroNorth
Dassault Systèmes
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Implementing new cloud hosted technology in companies of any size presents challenges and opportunities. It also induces uncertainty and anxiety among the workforce who may see their jobs under threat. There is no doubt that some companies introduce new technology to reduce headcount.

But simply replacing people with technology implies that the human capital of the organisation remains underdeveloped and while short-term savings can be achieved the company may not progress sustainably.

Workforce operates in new ways

Across the range of companies that we encounter those who consider technology in relation to the workforce are able to innovate more successfully. This is possible because the workforce is enabled to operate in new ways, form new groups and generate new ideas as a result.

The introduction of new technology is most successful when it is aligned strategically with the business model. In other words, it should be an integral part of corporate strategy that is also reflected in staff development.

Innovation is harder to achieve on an individual basis but in groups it can be accomplished and implemented more effortlessly.

If these factors are taken into account the company and its employees will be culturally ready to embrace technological advancement and to reap the considerable productivity and innovation rewards that cloud hosted technology adoption offers.

One of the main reasons for introducing new technology is to remove waste. In manufacturing and construction, waste is expensive and often highly visible but ultimately totally avoidable.

In commerce or services there may be no physical waste but it is equally expensive and harder to detect. Large amounts of waste in business result from the dispersion of people and information into separated silos each with its own processes and in many cases its own applications and solutions.

Because the data that each department creates is separated from the rest of the business it cannot be turned into useful intelligence in the ideation process. Its potential value is hidden and locked away.

Achieving innovation

It is common for numerous organisations to use antiquated procedures that have been built up over many years. Any resourceful and innovative thoughts about the company cannot flourish within the existing construct.

By introducing technology that breaks down silos and where stakeholders can use the same unified and universally accessible system, sequential and well-received business transformations happen.

Deploying new technology brings automation to functions such as design, manufacturing, engineering, finance, commerce and marketing, unifying separate islands of work into one single stream while connecting different departments, their stakeholders and the whole organisation.

Innovation is harder to achieve on an individual basis but in groups it can be accomplished and implemented more effortlessly.

Rather than people, worrying that technology will replace them; they are motivated to utilise it and any synergies to the fullest while developing better and more efficient ways of working that lead to improvements of their own and the company’s prospects.

One of the main benefits that this methodology has already brought to many types of businesses is that the enterprise can expand and take on more people in the knowledge that its human resource will be fully capitalised.

Fully capitalised HR

Human resources and IT are often gridlocked by unrewarding practices and outmoded technology. These specialists have a great part to play in introducing and explaining the methods and the adapted strategy that will project the organisation into the future.

New roles can be created at all levels while the organisation is drawn together into a more efficient unit. Employees will use technology to form new working groups drawn from previously siloed departments.

This leads to a mixing of, ages, demographics and disciplines from across the entire business. And because the technology automates many formerly wasteful processes, time becomes available to commercially exploit innovations brought about by the new order.

Involving the interdisciplinary workforce provides feedback for managers and highlights areas for potential improvement and up-skilling, re-skilling or training.

In many of the companies that we work with the workforce requests that more areas of their work are digitized because they see it as a catalyst for overall improvement. It makes them more productive and profitable and therefore more valuable to the company.

This is especially felt in the SME sector where companies may struggle to be competitive but can use technology to innovate through enhanced collaboration and give themselves a winning edge.

Leveraging enthusiasm

Technology is constantly evolving so it is crucial to ensure that the IT framework is future proofed with the ability to incorporate any new applications that could be useful to the business as it organically develops.

Developing trusting partnerships between technology providers and users where they understand and mesh with each other is a prime requirement. When this is achieved, engagement at all levels within and between the companies delivers the insight and adaptations that lead to improved competitiveness, performance and business strategies.

Implementing technology and processes bottom-up as well as vertically means that emerging innovations in lines and products that could otherwise be lost or hidden can be captured and marshalled for the benefit of the business.

Providing a common working basis, such as a platform, makes information and process details available for all employees.

This way, ideas and innovation are nurtured and at the same time easier to detect and capitalise. This flexibility lets the company work together leveraging the enthusiasm and new thinking of the young with more experienced minds, nurturing transformation and improvement. People begin to think and perceive the organisation differently.

The company can reassess itself and its internal and external identity and reputation in relation to customers, competitors and suppliers

Extrapolate future business performance

While bringing operational efficiencies digital data can also be deployed to extrapolate future business performance. This could be on a single work cell level or for the whole enterprise. This level of foresight and the opportunity to run digital ´what-if´ scenarios is a powerful lens through which to view the business.

Because we work on an international level I have seen that Asia is far ahead of Europe in the deployment of unified platforms with India making very fast headway to cementing its position as an innovation centre.

There, university students use the same cloud hosted technology as their eventual employers to ensure that they hit the ground running in the world of work.

While bringing operational efficiencies digital data can also be deployed to extrapolate future business performance.

A fresh wind of change is blowing the stifling bureaucracy from many companies that want to reap the rewards of working digitally [on premise and on the cloud].

Small companies are leading the vanguard with their agility, fresh thinking and clear strategies that deploy technology to maximise their most valuable resource – people.

Top 10 management tips for introducing technology to a business enterprise:

  1. Start with a clear strategy for being a digital organisation
  2. Use technology to empower and manage people as a business asset
  3. Get IT departments to understand the big picture and be proactive in the change process
  4. Use focus groups to recognise technology evangelists and innovation drivers in your business
  5. Challenge your own thinking about the value of technology and educate yourself and key stakeholder about it
  6. Use HR departments to champion the business transformation process and explain the advantages of technological change in your organisation
  7. Merge individual silos of information with a unified and universally accessible enterprise platform
  8. Think across the business and at all levels to generate new and different ideas
  9. Use technology to bring people together into new interest and responsibility groups
  10. Think long-term (10 - 30 years) about your business direction

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