So, I’m working with Sam Stern, an analyst on our Customer Experience research team, to examine how companies can better align employee behaviors with desired customer experience outcomes. Sam is looking at the types of rewards and recognition that fundamentally shift corporate culture towards customer-centricity. It builds on Paul Hagen’s culture research, How to Build a Customer-Centric Culture and Nine Ways to Reward Employees to Reinforce Customer-Centric Behaviors. Paul highlighted a number of great examples of how companies reinforce customer-centric culture through employee incentives and perks. I’m looking at the technology underpinnings of customer experience management and how these technology solutions can be applied to the workforce.
In case you haven’t noticed, the world of work is changing — people are more mobile, teams are more virtual, organizational structures are more fluid, work hours are more flexible, and offices have more ping-pong tables, latte machines and bring-your-dog-to-work days. In exchange for the more casual and flexible approach to when, where and how we do our jobs, we put in more hours whether they are accounted for or not. We write emails at the dinner table, work on weekends, travel more, and maybe accept lower pay and reduced benefits in exchange for a better work/life balance. Despite the tradeoffs, it seems to work for everyone. We get the flexibility we need and our employers get workers who are more engaged, more productive and better able to create and deliver meaningful value to customers. Over the last year or so, TJ Keitt and I have been leading research into workforce experience and IT's role in supporting a changing work environment and how to measure workforce experience.
Over the last few months, TJ Keitt and I have been wrestling with the concept that CIOs play a key role in employee engagement. All the signals point to this as hot topic. We've worked with many large clients on workforce technology assessments to help them understand how to assemble the right portfolio of technology tools to help employees be as productive as possible. For this research, we interviewed many technology leaders and their HR counterparts in companies that are widely recognized as great places to work that also happen to score well on customer experience. Our colleague, Kerry Bodine, co-author of the book Outside-In: The Power Of Putting Customers At The Center Of Your Business and an expert in customer experience published a blog post in November 2012 that talked about the importance of employee empowerment and the need to design the employee experience in the same way that you design the customer experience. As Kerry puts it, "great customer experiences don't happen by accident -- they have to be actively designed." The same is true of great employee experiences.
It’s hard to miss the buzz around mobile. Smartphones equipped with near field communications to instantly share video and voice control to allow for a handsfree web experience.New tablets like the Microsoft Surface, iPad Mini and Kindle Fire HD are tearing up the advertising airwaves. But mobile is not just another chapter in the smaller, faster, cheaper device story. And it’s not tiny web or shrunken PC applications. Instead, mobile is the flash point for a holistic, far-reaching change for your business. Your app is in your customer’s pocket. What will you do with that privilege? The answer is that you will deliver mobile engagement experiences that empower people with smart apps and products to take the next most likely action in their immediate context and moments of need. Mobile engagement experiences focus on people and their needs, not companies and their processes.
Over the last year, Ted Schadler and I have interviewed literally hundreds of CIOs, technology vendors, integrators and mobile design firms to capture and codify the state of the art in mobile engagement. And we’ve seen some great examples along the way as:
Customers hive around smartphone apps that deliver service at their convenience. Consumers download and use apps from Walgreens, American Airlines, Bank of America, and Wal-Mart, and 700,000 other app builders. Walgreens has a best-in-class app for reordering prescription drugs. Refill from your account, scan your prescription bar code, or type in the prescription number. Then automatically refill at a nearby store.
Recently, my colleague Melissa Parrish wrote a great report on the Always-Addressable Customer, a population of ultra-connected consumers for whom mobile is a key touchpoint. Based on the number of Internet-connected devices they use, the locations they connect from and the frequency with which they go online each day, Melissa's analysis showed that 38% of online adults in the US already meet the criteria of always-addressable.
Her analysis got me thinking about information workers (iWorkers). What percentage of iWorkers -- based on the number and diversity of devices, locations and applications used for work -- could be called "Anytime, Anywhere iWorkers"? There are about 79 million iWorkers in the US today, about one-third of the total US online population of 247 million. Using our Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey of about 5000 iWorkers, we discovered that 15.1% -- or about 12 million -- meet our criteria of 3 connected devices, 3 locations and at least 7 applications used for work in any given month.
It’s safe to say that the early adopters of Apple’s iPad didn’t go out and buy the device because they wanted a new gadget for work. They purchased the iPad because of what they could do in their everyday lives. But it didn’t take long for employees to bring their iPads to the office. If we mark the modern tablet era by Apple’s 2010 iPad launch then an astounding 84 million iPads and as many as 120 million tablets in total have flown off the shelves. Forrester’s global workforce and decision-maker surveys and client conversations show just how fast tablets are being adopted:
Three-quarters of a billion tablets will be in use by 2016. It took more than 20 years for the PC to reach an installed base of 750 million people. But tablets will surpass that mark in less than half the time. Global tablet sales will top 375 million in 2016 with about one-third of tablets acquired by businesses for employees. Back in 2007, we wrote that to reach the second billion users, the computer market would be driven by lower cost hardware, useful applications, and easy access to the Internet from anywhere. Tablets fit that bill to a tee.
Some 82% of firms expect to support tablets for employees. Companies are getting tablet fever as 82% of firms report interest in using tablets. According to these IT decision makers, tablets will come into the enterprise via several doors, including employees bringing their own: Our latest survey of global information workers shows that 12% use tablets and 8% paid for it themselves. And more than half of the 1,004 firms we surveyed plan to increase their spending on mobile devices and apps by at least 10% next year.
The pressure to innovate has never been greater for every company. After speaking to many CIOs and business leaders about innovation, a couple of issues rose to the surface: ideas are being drawn from so many sources now -- employees, partners, customers, and other stakeholders -- that the decision about what to invest in is getting harder. At the same time, the process for sorting through, evaluating and incubating is cumbersome. In my almost-finished report, I decided to take a crack at developing a simple methodology and evaluation tool that helps spot good ideas in the pile quickly and fast-track them into an incubation stage.
Innovation is a discipline with established best practices, needed skill sets, and time-tested processes and tools. But even the process of innovating is being disrupted by social media, collaborative tools, and customer empowerment. A good innovation program empowers your people, engages partners and customers, revives morale during challenging times, and provides an extra shot of competitive energy when you need it. Engaging in a genuine and meaningful dialog with customers, partners and employees around innovation is admirable and has proven to be a great source of new ideas for many companies. However with so many ideas being generated, time and energy gets wasted on ideas that won't go anywhere, vague criteria designed to cast the widest net don't provide any kind of focus, and opaque evaluation processes leave people guessing about the status of their idea.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, Ted Schadler and I are working on mobile strategy research for Forrester's CIO clients, and Ted's recent report Mobile Is The New Face of Engagement is the foundation for much of our research effort this year. One area that we are currently exploring for a new report is mobile engagement maturity, an assessment framework that will help our clients develop a strategy over time that leverages their strengths and addresses their weaknesses to continuously improve.