Government // Mobile & Wireless
Commentary
8/21/2013
01:08 PM
TJ Keitt
TJ Keitt
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Can IT Help Build A Better Workplace Environment?

Forrester's "employee-centric design" process brings IT and business leaders together to improve on how employees do their jobs.

IT Pros: 10 Ways To Boost Your Business Credibility
IT Pros: 10 Ways To Boost Your Business Credibility
(click image for larger view)
Today's business leaders are competing to recruit and retain top talent, and an engaging workplace that sparks productivity is a big part of the appeal. However, IT's traditional role of providing flexibility to higher-ranking employees doesn't do much for the wider workforce that has access to iPads and Skype at home.

In fact, a recent Forrester survey shows that only 37% of employees are satisfied with the service that IT provides. What's more is that only 41% of employees would recommend a job at their company, and 44% would recommend their company's products.

Not surprisingly, those who feel supported by managers, respected for their efforts, and encouraged to be creative are more inclined to recommend the company and work harder. We're seeing a debate within the upper echelons of organizations on how to best create meaningful workforce experiences. It's critical that the CIO is at the table during these debates. Why? Regardless of the management strategy, technology will be necessary to help unlock workforce potential.

[ Your IT team can play a key role in retaining top talent. Here's how: 3 Ways IT Can Support Talent Strategy. ]

My colleagues at Forrester and I maintain that to build a positive workplace environment that drives profit and superior customer experiences, firms must take a holistic view of the workforce and design specific experiences for all the different worker segments, not just the executives. We call this process "employee-centric design" -- and it's used to align the business' technology strategy with how employees actually do their jobs.

Employee-centric design requires that companies do the following:

1. Observe how employees work and discuss their challenges with them. True needs and opportunities come to light when a business leader spends time watching and speaking with an employee. These observations should not only take into account the employee's tasks themselves, but all the surrounding elements, including the devices the employee uses, employee mindset and motivations, and how third-party products impact his or her work experience.

2. Describe employees' specific business context and evaluate how to meet their needs. Once the research process is complete, the observations must be distilled into frameworks that give IT and business leaders a common understanding of the employees' needs, motivations and challenges.

3. Brainstorm ways to address employee issues and critique these ideas. This is an opportunity for IT leaders to have an open conversation with business leaders and employees. During the redesign of Biogen Idec's Intranet, for example, the developers had brainstorming sessions with groups that were regularly publishing content on the site -- human resources, corporate communications, lines of business and IT. The development team also actively sought employee feedback, which had the dual benefit of helping sort through design concepts and showing content creators ways to sharpen their messaging.

Global CIO
Global CIOs: A Site Just For You
Visit InformationWeek's Global CIO -- our online community and information resource for CIOs operating in the global economy.

4. Create prototypes to vet the ideas. It's essential to turn the concepts into a set of mockups to help IT and business leaders visualize ideas. For example, Verizon Wireless transformed a cumbersome manual sales tracking process into a dynamic mobile app that gives in-store staff real-time sales performance data on their iOS and Android devices. The design, created by Cynergy, was built around observations and interviews with store staff. To get buy-in, Cynergy demonstrated the prototype to key Verizon stakeholders to give them a vision of how the tool could help workers.

5. Test the prototype's functionality with users. The final step in this process could be the longest, as IT must make sure that the tools are usable and useful. Biogen Idec's Intranet development required several rounds of user acceptance testing prior to its launch. This process also gives executives the chance to see if the business can support the tool. Take Waste Management, for example -- corporate communications staffers had discussions with the different regional and departmental groups to ensure that they could update and manage content on their pages successfully.

Employee-centric design will not happen overnight. To be successful, firms must clearly define whether they are improving an existing experience or creating a new one, build a consensus for what the business wants to achieve, and define the metrics used to determine when success is met.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
8/22/2013 | 2:46:19 PM
re: Can IT Help Build A Better Workplace Environment?
What percentage of today's companies would you estimate follow employee-centric design? This sounds great but I haven't seen this in action much.
David F. Carr
50%
50%
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
8/22/2013 | 2:58:40 PM
re: Can IT Help Build A Better Workplace Environment?
This is more or less what social collaboration tools like Jive are supposed to accomplish, isn't it? Where are the gaps?
RobPreston
50%
50%
RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
8/22/2013 | 3:20:07 PM
re: Can IT Help Build A Better Workplace Environment?
Employee-centric design seems consistent with the Employee First mantra of HCL Technologies CEO Vineet Nayar. http://www.informationweek.com...
TerryB
50%
50%
TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
8/22/2013 | 5:25:32 PM
re: Can IT Help Build A Better Workplace Environment?
Maybe I've not read this correctly but my question is: Who in the heck doesn't design systems without talking to the actual people who will use them? That has worked for me since 1985 when I started in this field.
I also question his 37% satisfaction rate. I've been severely disappointed our (local biz unit) satisfaction dropped from 90% to 68% two years ago when our global company centralized IT support. 37% would get me fired! Who does Forrester talk to for this stuff?
dchasselshp5
50%
50%
dchasselshp5,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/23/2013 | 4:35:21 PM
re: Can IT Help Build A Better Workplace Environment?
Let's cut out the fancy speak. Business users not IT or the GǣvendorGǥ should decide how software supports them at work in a transparent easily understood development environment. The interpretation gap between IT and business must be closed as build and future change is quickly implemented exactly as required. This has been the Gǣdream the questGǥ for decades! Good news it has been created where the build takes place in the GǣmodelGǥ using declarative no code change no code generation or compiling. Just a pity Forrester have ignored for so longGǪ..until it suits them? Must drop their CEO another noteGǪ.from the UK.

However the result is what is important not my spat with analysts. People will embrace ownership of their processes feel empowered individually and collectively to deliver on their agreed outcomes. Fear of change will be removed indeed welcomed to improve the work environment. At last business in control of their processes and business logic not GǣITGǥ whose jobs is secure delivery to users on whatever device.
TerryB
50%
50%
TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
8/23/2013 | 5:12:10 PM
re: Can IT Help Build A Better Workplace Environment?
The "model" doesn't cut it, doesn't collect sufficient level of detail and doesn't guarantee robust code. The key is generate something the user can see and touch ASAP and then iterate until user is ready for production use. And then apply continuous improvement thru it's lifecycle, quickly responding to all requests for improvements or integration with other processes.
Anyone can model a process at a high level, only serious developers can create a high quality product that actually works.
Kind of like describing how to play high quality football versus actually being able to do it, which very few can. Not all "IT" is created equally, as you seem to suggest.
dchasselshp5
50%
50%
dchasselshp5,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/23/2013 | 6:16:32 PM
re: Can IT Help Build A Better Workplace Environment?
How I love it when I get "not in my life time" type comments - it just confirms how disruptive this is! Let me try a put it in simple language.

Business logic never changes; think of the pony express a man doing a series of task picking up a letter (a series of task just getting to that) getting on the horse etc. Today the man does the same series of logical steps but the horse is now the webGǪ..got it yet? GǪ..When you analyse the tasks human and system to achieve outcomes where all information is created there are less than 13 work task typesGǪstill with meGǪ.? So identify them create them as configurable GǣobjectsGǥ stored in database and build a Gǣprocess engineGǥ to orchestrate as required Then build an easy to use
graphical interface to build this logic and of course workflow or more
appropriately Gǣcollaboration flowsGǥ. Then you need MDM capability to use legacy data etc and GǣbingoGǥ you have exactly what I claim!

All far too simple for GǣITGǥ whose evolution has stuck with old 3GL coding but keeps GǣITGǥ (or the vendor) in control. Oh yes I forgot 20 years R&D and including working with early adopters; a steep learning curve for all including us! BUT it really does work and
handling any business complexity e.g. build a configurator in weeks, an intelligent process recognising past actions GǪand we know more to come.
TerryB
50%
50%
TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2013 | 5:49:34 PM
re: Can IT Help Build A Better Workplace Environment?
You crack me up. You need all these tools created by IT to even implement what you are babbling about. What's your price tag on that stuff? Way more than it costs someone like me to just create it for my users, based on what they want.
I suspect you've never actually created anything for a company that you worked for. Have you heard this joke? "A consultant knows 300 ways to make love but doesn't have a girl friend".
Get it? Still with me?
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest September 23, 2014
Intrigued by the concept of a converged infrastructure but worry you lack the expertise to DIY? Dell, HP, IBM, VMware, and other vendors want to help.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.