By: Frik van der Westhuizen, CEO of EQPlus
Even though advanced technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and real-time data analytics can make organisations more productive, people are still an integral part of the process. Business and technology leaders must therefore remain cognisant of the human element and never simply get technology for its own sake. By doing so, the company can free up employees to focus more on driving a culture of innovation.
If organisations give information workers access to tools that can help automate menial tasks and better analyse data to make more informed decisions, increased business agility can be unlocked. However, many companies still struggle to see how AI, ML, and other technologies fit into hybrid work environments and how they can be used to improve employee collaboration.
One of the ways to overcome this is to match people to technology. This requires companies to closely analyse existing processes and identify the ones that hinder collaboration. Technology on its own cannot optimise environments if the underlying system is not conducive to change. It is important to involve HR in this as the department is best positioned to identify those employees likely to benefit most from advanced automation technologies. It is as much a skills discussion as it is one that centres on identifying those people who will be willing to use technology to affect change inside the organisation.
Every company can find an example of performing a technology roll out only to see it fail due to employees not embracing it or understand how it fits into their day-to-day tasks. Taking a more people-specific approach to technology implementations can mitigate the risk of this happening to a great degree.
Following from this is to identify the technologies that will make it easier for people to perform their duties. Technology must help create an enabling, collaborative environment. If the tools and technologies selected do not help achieve this, then they are not the right fit for the company.
One of the ways to achieve this is to perform an audit of the current technology stack. Given how rapidly technology has evolved in recent years, it is hardly surprising how bloated systems have become. Many organisations struggle with data siloes and disparate solutions that focus on different processes with no easy way to integrate. By reviewing the entire technology ecosystem that has been put in place, organisations can better identify the priority areas to address. Working closely with the people on the ground becomes important as these are the ones who have an intimate understanding of where the challenges lie and what they require from more innovative solutions to realise business value.
Over the past two years, people have had to quickly adapt to leading more technology-enabled lifestyles. Whether working remotely or using the internet to do banking, shopping, work, and other things, individuals have had to become more digitally-native than ever.
The speed of technology change has accelerated exponentially in the wake of the pandemic. With more local companies adopting hybrid and remote work policies, and many looking to trial a four-day work week in the new year, innovation will be a common theme to keep building momentum through technology.
Companies must realise that people, technology, and innovation happen together. The one element cannot be effective without the other two in place.