Digital Darwinism – Pressure from Within
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.
– Charles Darwin
The pace at which technology is changing is astonishing. It is exciting to see what is around the corner, but we also face a struggle to keep up. Digital Darwinism is the concept of technology and society evolving faster than your ability to adapt (Digital Darwinism: thriving in the face of technology change, ACAA).
The evolution of technology will impact various stakeholders of an organisation, but one of the biggest impacts will be on your staff. Consumer technology has seen some rapid and well documented advances over the last decade, arguably driven by an increase in mobile access. Your workforce, as consumers, now use technology on an hourly basis to improve their efficiency, well-being, and knowledge. Their Google Calendars notify them of when to leave to arrive at their next meeting on time, and mobile apps like Uber allow you to secure transportation within a few seconds and automatically charge the fare to your account.
This constant access to technology has created a demand for innovation, and as a result, expectations have increased. With the benchmark raised, organisations have to constantly look to keep their team armed with tools to keep them efficient.
Enterprise technology seems to have taken its time in catching up, perhaps because costs of switching, opportunity cost, and other considerations are keeping businesses cautious. However, pressure has begun to build internally and enterprise employees are becoming frustrated. They use well-designed, fast technology at home, but they get to work and are forced to use a system that was built and designed before the browser they use even existed. Businesses that embrace change and keep up-to-date with technology (now easier than ever through continuously updated cloud deployment models) will experience some or all of the following:
- Increased staff loyalty – Being a pioneering company in your space means that your staff are not frustrated and removes roadblocks from their everyday work. This reduces staff turnover and can also attract top employees from competitors.
- Increase asset value – Data can be a competitive advantage, but it must be recorded. Simple-to-use technology increases adoption and data value.
- Better results – This is perhaps the most obvious outcome: better tools provide better efficiency and greater productivity.
- Educated decisions – Business decisions are no longer a guessing game, because data is constantly recorded. More educated decisions can reduce risk and the cost of growth.
- Competitive advantage – With tools that are more efficient and engaged and provide better delivery to the market, you can stay ahead of the competition in your clients’ eyes. This enables you to deliver an incredible customer experience.
I recently visited a client that was running a small but growing business. On a regular basis, this company uses employee reviews to ask its consultants to name three areas in which they could improve. Before this company changed its technology, its database was always chosen as one of the three areas holding consultants back. At the same time, the company’s most senior rep found that the system actually held productivity back because of the amount of time it took to complete crucial tasks, so he refused to use it. Because of this, other consultants felt that they shouldn’t have to use it either.
The recent change to a new system has enabled this senior employee to track all communication automatically, allowing him to go on holiday without requiring his colleagues to phone him for updates. The business is tracking metrics so that it can plan an office move and hiring plans based on actual business performance. All of this justifies how important adoption can be. Technology that creates barriers can have a negative impact on morale, efficiency, productivity, and business performance.
So what is changing…?
Cloud technology is not necessarily the answer for every business, but it clearly possesses significant advantages, from lower operational costs to faster innovation. Improved infrastructure, knowledge, and Internet speeds have made it possible to provide a platform that delivers consumer-style technology in the workplace. Most importantly, these advances allow businesses to be “responsive to change.”
We are now even seeing enterprise technology imitate consumer products. For example, Google Apps for Business resulted from Gmail and Microsoft morphed Hotmail into Office 365. As expectations and benchmarks from employees rise, employers are expected to deliver technology that is simple to use but produces results. This demand is only going to increase as “digital natives” seep into the working population. By providing a tool that is simple and easy-to-use, you can motivate and empower your employees to build a business that’s focused on results.
There is a lot of further reading that to do within this space, and opinions will continue to change and develop. If anybody has their own opinions, further articles, or studies on the topic, or if you think that there are areas that should be discussed in more detail, I would be happy to hear more. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.