Wednesday December 4, 2013
Recently at Purple Cubed we implemented a technology change, switching to a cloud-based web application to store, organise, share and access our files and information. The drive for this was to enable our people to access organisational data from any device and work from anywhere. The move was at times difficult and frustrating, although we were all on board and understood why it was happening, so it got me thinking about our office ancestors and how it was for them when change happened.
Some of the most significant changes that technology has delivered in the last three decades have been in an effort to improve productivity and communication. Thirty years ago, business was centred around face-to-face relationships, getting out and meeting people, dealing with the paperwork later. If someone was out of the office, they were out of contact. Sending documents happened through the postal service and was a slow and cumbersome affair. Enter the first changes with the introduction of the fax machine and email; speeding up this process and making people more connected with their business peers. Ironically, both are now already viewed as yesterday’s technology. Whilst modern day business is still focused on building strong relationships, we now have mobile phones, tablets, web-conferencing and social networks to help us do this without the need for face-to-face contact always. Communication is instantaneous, global, simple and cost-effective. We can transmit documents, videos and images anywhere in the world, instantly and at no or little cost.
You could say we are working in a ‘Darwinian’ environment – experiencing rapid change which looks set to continue for the foreseeable. Organisations, as well as their people, must adapt to survive.
So, how do you do it?
1. Through continuous improvement
The CIO of TUI Travel, a leading international leisure travel company was recently interviewed by The Financial Times about how they respond to the fast-changing holiday market. People are significantly more digital savvy now, logging on and buying holidays themselves; obtaining the information they need from the internet and using other holiday makers’ reviews to support their buying decision – rather than visiting and trusting the travel agent behind the desks. They also expect a lot more, expecting a service which is personalised to their individual tastes and completely up-to-date wherever and however they access it.
With such demanding customers and so much competition a click away on the internet, success requires being ultra-fast to react. The answer TUI Travel has found is to create a culture of incremental change that lets you introduce innovation every few weeks as customer needs and expectations evolve.
Fear of change is as much a part of human nature as adapting to survive, but a planned and staged approach to innovation can achieve the latter whilst minimising the former.
2. Keeping everyone in the loop
Not everyone finds it easy to adapt to change. As new processes are introduced and demonstrate more efficiency, often people’s jobs alter and so it’s natural to see some resistance to the change. In most cases businesses experience this because they are trying to grow. In others it’s seen as a result of shrinking one part of the organisation in order to build another. To minimise the resistance, it’s important for organisations to have their strategy clear and transparent; showing people the big picture, where they’re headed and the opportunities to progress. And keep communications clear and honest, in the majority of change situations, resistance is as a result of those involved not understanding what is going on and how they can contribute.
3. Embracing the benefits
We think in linear terms but technology moves at an exponential pace. Business schools teach us to be logical and methodical, but the truth is, we’re not as rational as we’d like to think. We now need to make numerous decisions daily, usually quickly and sometimes having to rely on technology to help us to do this. Look at which areas of work you are spending most time on and research technology available to help you. Anything that saves you time and produces quality information is the way to move forward.
Everywhere you look, efficiency and information is being automated. From robots in factories to pattern recognition software that automates analytical tasks, machine capabilities are replacing human ones in every area except one: our ability to interact with each other face-to-face. In a fully automated age, the only truly valuable asset will be the human spirit and how we thrived through changing times.
What could you automate to be more efficient?
Sol works on Purple Cubed’s big projects and supports our Account Managers and Business Advisors. To discuss this topic further email firstname.lastname@example.org