Last weekend I had the pleasure of skiing with friends and family, and while I typically focus on only two things during these outings: getting down the mountain safely and the cold beer at the end of the day, I could not ignore the constant reminders of reality. That is, example after example of an organization delivering a great customer experience and the implications for the digital workplace. Even in the midst of my vacation, I saw many signs of how they are unquestionably linked.
The ski resort didn’t only focus on customer experience as a priority or core competency, it appeared to be wholly blended into their culture. They understood that each interaction was a point of success or failure in each individual’s experience. While it was clear that they were managing to an overall strategy of delivering an exceptional customer experience, they were also tailoring that experience to the unique needs of their guests. To highlight a few things that stood out to me:
- Programs uniquely tailored to older ski enthusiasts, early childhood skiers and physically impaired skiers; constant live entertainment at the base of the mountain; access to equipment repairs throughout the mountain; warming, snack, and beverage service available just about everywhere
- A virtual environment that mirrored the physical environment (including the normal apps that I would expect, but also interactive trail maps, views of individual run snow conditions via live cams, lift wait times, GPS tracking of buses and shuttles, and more)
- An incredible hotspot the size of the mountain – no matter where you ventured, it seemed you always had a strong connection
This is where it really got interesting for me, and where I saw the connection to the digital workplace – ease of access has changed the world of work forever. To provide you with some context, our group included about a dozen millennials – all born in the 1980s and all off to great, ambitious careers. At any given time, one or more of our group were connected to the web and executing real business. There was refinancing taking place, large investment portfolios rationalized, supply chain issues resolved, accounting guidance provided, sales deals closed, and even an international video call. All performed flawlessly on various mobile devices from the mountain! This group of millennials may not be aware (or even care) but they are helping to redefine the workplace environment by establishing the new digital expectation
Never one to miss an opportunity, I facilitated a discussion regarding the digital workplace. Here are some insights I took away:
- By all accounts, the informational workforce of the future will not be constrained by the physical workplace environment – either within the four walls of their company or being completely virtual
- This workforce will not be limited by time constraints. As a whole, this particular group covered most of a 24 hour window – with the early risers regularly starting at 5:00 AM, and the last completing their work efforts in the wee hours of the morning
- Their expectation is that the right information to perform their work and make decisions should be available on-demand. And if the right people or systems are not immediately on hand, they are willing to improvise with an ever-evolving network of social platforms.
- While the nature of the individual applications and user interfaces may vary, the workplace systems they encounter in no way match the easy to use, intuitive systems they routinely use in their everyday life. They believe this limits their productivity, and often times becomes a roadblock for their current work and a driver for exploring other employment opportunities.
From the perspective of digital consultancy, this real life experience with family and friends reinforces the following for me:
- Organizations need to rethink their workplace environments sooner rather than later – challenging processes, technologies, and organizational structures
- They need to establish digital strategies that align with the workforce of the future and ultimately make the digital workplace a reality
- Organizations need to understand the value of user experience and design-centered approaches to internal applications, and include those investments in the business case/ROI justifications
- Digital consultancies such as Tahoe Partners need to incorporate consumer-based, device-independent best practices into workplace application design
For me, the bottom line is that companies are going to have to reinvent their workplace environment, driven by the need to:
- Significantly improve collaboration, productivity and innovation
- Gain rapid access to information and people, leveraging insights that are abundant but rarely ever captured
- Attract and retain a high performance workforce (that has a completely new set of expectations)
Organizations are going to have to radically change the way their teams collaborate and engage with one another. Expect exciting times ahead for the next frontier of business solutions….