Empowering people to deliver digital transformation

Gartner’s most recent survey of CEOs and senior business executives showed that growth remains their number one priority. But as the pathway to growth becomes steeper, the leaders of large enterprise are looking at digital transformation as a driver of improvement.

Technology was ranked as the third most important imperative to business success and mentions of digital transformation are becoming more frequent. Respondents recognised that digital advances could facilitate greater efficiency, increase customer value and inspire the creation of new services and other sources of revenue generation.

It was also interesting to see workforce rise from being the seventh most pressing priority in 2017 to the fourth in 2018. In fact, 28% of business leaders named staffing and talent among their top three priorities.

The two are not mutually exclusive, of course. Digital transformation cannot succeed without the engagement of employees.

When asked about the biggest inhibitor to digital business progress, the most common answer was talent and workforce capability. Technical and financial challenges obviously exist, but in the opinion of business leaders, employees have the greatest influence on digital progress.

That means engaging them in the process, upskilling where necessary and carrying out a period of user testing and training prior to any implementation. It also means ensuring staff are suitably equipped. This could be described as the last 2ft of digital transformation. If that final 2ft is obstructed by outdated or unsuitable devices, the transformation journey could be halted.

More than three-quarters of the respondents (78%) to a global survey conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services strongly agreed with the following statement: “To be successful in the future, our organisation must connect and empower its frontline workers with technology and information.”

The report underlines the tangible benefits that can arise from augmenting frontline work with technology and data. “Combining human talent with technology empowerment enables people to do things humans are not equipped to do on their own,” said Jeffrey Rayport, a professor at Harvard

Business School and author of Best Face Forward. “If you care about increasing productivity or competing on the quality of your customer interactions, in most situations you can’t assume that either technology alone or humans alone will provide the optimal answer.”

Michael Schrage, research fellow at the MIT Sloan School of Management’s

Initiative on the Digital Economy, added that the way business leaders select technology for their employees depended on whether they viewed their workforce primarily as a cost to be managed or as a resource to be

cultivated in the service of innovation and a better customer experience.

The vision of better engagement with employees is admirable but research suggests it is rare in reality. Microsoft reported recently that less than 15% of the world’s workers feel engaged at work. We all know how frustrating the working day can be. On average, a knowledge worker suffers an interruption every three minutes, has eight windows open on their computer, checks their email 30 times per hour, feels that 47% of their time in meetings is unproductive and spends 20% of their working hours looking for vital information.

Technology has a role to play in improving that picture. But the truth is that digital transformation requires not only technological change but cultural change. It’s about establishing new ways of working, enabling employees to be connected, collaborative, creative, flexible and productive. The IT architecture of the past is not sufficiently adaptable to cope with these new ways of working. Instead, we’re seeing the rise of a new IT ecosystem where cloud-enabled productivity apps are accessible on numerous devices. Hardware and software are coalescing into a more seamlessly integrated environment that empowers workers.

Microsoft’s range of Surface devices perfectly encapsulate this new paradigm. The powerful capabilities of the Microsoft 365, incorporating Microsoft Office and Windows 10 Pro platforms, are fully realised in a range of premium laptops that combine touchscreen technology with maximum mobility, high-level functionality and built-in security features.

Despite being the most junior in the range, Surface Go exemplifies many of the best features of the Surface family. Within its compact body, weighing just a little over 1lb, its Intel Pentium Gold processor accommodates a complete range of fully-featured desktop software. It combines the portability and intuitive interface of a tablet while also adapting into a laptop format when required, with a built-in kickstand, natural typing keyboard and trackpad.

Even greater capabilities can be unleashed by the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop and Surface Book 2, while Surface Studio offers creative power and Surface Hub promotes group productivity and collaboration.

The ability to capture ideas either by pen, voice or touch and then share them with colleagues in a highly visual way is clearly advantageous to organisations that are prioritising innovative thinking. The Microsoft 365 suite also facilitates enterprise-class email, voice and video services, plus real-time document sharing and chat-based workspaces.

Use cases will vary depending on the distinct needs of a business, whether the focus is on enhancing customer interactions in front-of-house locations or accelerating the agility of senior executives. The important point is to align people and technology in a harmonious whole that improves the way the business operates.

To help enterprise exploit the very best advantages of the Surface family, CDW provides a range of wrap-around services that add value in important areas. An extensive range of maintenance and support services are offered by CDW, underpinned by tailored SLAs and delivered by accredited engineers with demonstrable technical expertise. Design services, including the build of a main image, are also available alongside pre-delivery asset-tagging, deployment support and delivery.

Learn more about the Surface family


“Building For Success at the Firstline of Business”, Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, Sponsored by Microsoft.

“Practical Guide to the Modern Workplace: Guidance for Business Leaders”, published by Microsoft.


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