On October 15, I was invited to the launch of Unify, the new name for Siemens Enterprise Communications. Giving up a heritage stretching back to the age of the telegraph is a courageous move at best. Like some of its peers with a strong history in communications, Siemens Enterprise Communications has been through a tough period recently. Like Nokia Handsets and BlackBerry, the company has had to reposition its business to regain lost ground. But this is where the comparison stops, for this move is a bold departure and is being put into practice differently:
Unify is not an evolution; it's a new beginning. As the CEO Hamid Akhavan announced the new Unify brand, there was a mixture of emotions; it was both a sad departure from the powerful parent and liberation in the face of a new mission — harmonizing the enterprise. Mr. Akhavan presented the brand as young, hip, and customer-focused. A fresh, apple-green Unify logo completes the picture; it is differentiated, concise, and a good base upon which to build a lively brand in the years to come.
Anyone who's been following this blog knows that I've invested a lot of time recently laying out the case for why CIOs should take more ownership over employee engagement and workforce experience. With the foundational argument in place, it's now time to turn to the critical question: How should an IT department act? This can be a paralyzing question because owning the workforce experience means IT leaders must step outside of traditional technology provisioning and maintenance roles. That's why the path forward for IT leaders is to implement a series of changes in how they view themselves, employees, and the technology landscape:
Pivot benchmarks to account for engagement's link with IT satisfaction. Traditional IT benchmarks concern the performance of the infrastructure and employees' satisfaction with the service they receive. These are indeed important measures, but they do not give a complete view of how technology helps engage employees. We recently published our benchmarks for workforce experience that lay out what CIOs should be evaluating in addition to their customary metrics. These include employee engagement measures, employee technology attitudes, where employees learn about technology and how IT plans align with employee expectations. Evaluating both IT and the workforce in such a fashion requires the buy-in of executives, particularly the head of HR who traditionally owns employee engagement and satisfaction surveys.
Yesterday afternoon, I moderated a panel on the role the IT department can play in the business's employee engagement efforts. Any follower of this blog knows that this is a topic I've talked about a lot lately (see previous posts here and here) because hiring, developing and retaining talented and productive employees is critical in the Age of the Customer. The panelists were Ed Flahive, Vice President Global Learning & Development at State Street, Mike Peterson, CIO and Vice President at CHG Healthcare Services, and Ray Velez, Chief Technology Officer at Razorfish. As you've probably observed, this was an eclectic group, representing human resources, IT and client delivery groups respectively. Well, that was on purpose. This topic requires perspectives from both business leaders and technologists. Having had 24 hours to think about that discussion, I thought I would share a few a-ha's I had from my conversation with these gentlemen: