The tech industry is the fastest moving and most innovative industry in the world, but it is also one in which longevity is more the exception than the rule. The average life span of a company listed in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index is predicted to shrink to 12 years by 2027, from 33 years in 1964. As global organisations, IT enterprises need to be agile in order to overcome any danger they may face in the future. This danger can range from changes to data and privacy regulation, cloud network issues, recruiting the right talent and enabling them with the right skills. There is also a need to prepare for challenges they didn’t even know they would face. In the age of disruption, change is something tech companies can embrace and be fully prepared for – as long as the right measures are implemented.
In our industry, it is easy to get distracted by technology, products and commodities, so much so that we might forget about our greatest asset – people. Flourishing organisations keep employees at the core of what they do; investing in them, keeping them happy and considering their health and wellbeing. There is a direct correlation between FTSE 100 companies and those that feature on Glassdoor’s 50 best places to work in 2019 – including tech giants like SAP, Salesforce and Microsoft.
To foster a culture of innovation, executives need to create an environment that encourages creativity. This can include initiatives such as freedom to experiment, networking at tech industry events and rewards for outstanding efforts. It’s about allowing staff to be creative away from their desks. This is exemplified in Rocket.Build, an annual hackathon open to all employees. Staff retention is critical to an organisation’s survival and with over half of the UK IT workforce revealing they feel stressed, underpaid and overworked, creating a positive working environment where people feel valued is important as a valued employee is more likely to be a committed one.
As R&D moves at lightning speed, IT enterprises must also ensure their employees’ skills adapt and change with the products. A World Economic Forum report last year revealed 65% of children who enter primary school will end up in jobs which don’t yet exist. Therefore, if executives implemented the same philosophy to training staff as they do for product development, employees would be on a continuous quest for improvement. Yet, unmotivated and untrained staff can destroy the best products and services.
It is important for managers to anticipate what’s coming, understand the market and any change of direction to be future-ready. This means training employees at all levels, so they are prepared to understand and meet customers’ needs in the present and future. The Association for Talent Development estimates that ongoing training and education at work could increase a company’s income by a staggering 218%, as well as a 24% higher profit margin.
In Rocket’s line of work where legacy technology is the one to turbo-charge the business of our customers, identifying risks or possible point of failures is what will prepare our industry for the future. These risks could be in areas that range from people, systems, processes or legal compliance. However, all these influencing factors can be identified and acted upon.
For example, if you are too dependent on a single person, vendor or team for the success of the business, this could create big problems in the future if they are not around. 79% of people who leave their jobs cite lack of appreciation as the main reason. Upskilling, valuing and training employees can resolve this.
IT enterprises must ensure their organisations are connected; from sales to service, identifying and integrating data from every touchpoint of your customer journey helps executives to understand customer behaviour and anticipate their needs ahead of time. This ultimately leaves you in a better position to make strategic decisions for growth and adapt your business according to their needs.
Adapt working environments
Just as technology has adapted, so should your business’s working environment – it can play a major role in how satisfied or motivated your employees are. With 41% of UK office workers admitting they are only ‘sometimes self-motivated’, directors are well-advised to create a setting that feels like a community rather than ‘just’ a place where people go to do a nine-to-five.
Working practices are extremely important to most employees. Providing a working environment which accounts for the needs of the individuals is certainly worth consideration, especially since many of us are spending 1,792 hours at work every year. Gensler identified four different work modes – focus, learn, socialise and collaborate – all of which need to be accommodated. Businesses can go the extra mile and e.g. bring the outside in by introducing natural elements like plants into the office space, provide break-out rooms for much needed quiet in an open space environment, and consider partitioning to control the noise level which can be distracting. If employees enjoy the workspace, productivity and engagement are likely to increase.
Remember that many brains are better than one. Strive to create a culture that supports and encourages staff to conceive and come forward with new products, services and technologies for your business. A 2017 McKinsey study revealed 40% of industry is digitised in a time where millennials make up the majority of the workforce. These digital natives need nurturing and looking after.
Employees should be encouraged to share and think creatively outside of their computers – communication platforms such as Skype for Business are making this sharing easier. According to author Jacob Morgan of the book The Future of Work: Attract new talent, build better leaders and create a competitive organisation “knowledge is now nothing more than a commodity”. The means the most important factor is an employee’s ability to learn how to learn and stay adaptable to any challenge arising. This is far more valuable than the knowledge you can access from a computer.
The new knowledge workers are the future
“Knowledge workers” was a term coined back in the 80s, describing this new kind of worker whose main capital was knowledge. Nowadays with working environments that cater to the needs of the employee’s and many tools at their disposal, workers can be considered “professional knowledge workers”. By accommodating and equipping these workers, your business will be armed for any challenges in the future.