It was my pleasure to be among the speakers at WalkMe’s Realize 2020 conference on March 11. Here’s a summary of my remarks on the post-digital world of disruption and continual change—and what that really means for our customers and colleagues.
We live in a world of disruption.
This disruption might be from social and political situations, regulations and trade wars. A lot of the disruption is driven by new waves of technology converging and being applied by new entrants and incumbent players.
A majority (71 percent) of the 10,000 companies we looked at recently are in or on the brink of significant disruption. Up to $41 trillion dollars in enterprise value is exposed to disruption.
When companies are in the middle of disruption, typically they make quite cautious moves. But, playing it safe amid disruption is very risky. As organizations, we need to make a deliberate choice about transforming our current business and developing our new business for the future. Instead of being disrupted, we need to make a wise pivot toward becoming disruptors.
We are also in a post-digital age now. More than half of consumers feel technology is central to their daily lives and globally people spend an average of 6.4 hours online.
We’re all a bit digitally overloaded. I have a few hundred apps on my iPhone. At work I use dozens of applications to get my job done.
We’re seeing what has been called a tech-lash from both consumers and employees.
I prefer the idea of a tech-clash—people don’t oppose technology; they remain excited and intrigued by it. But businesses are developing and deploying that technology using the playbooks of decades past, from the days before tech had such a meaningful impact.
For instance, businesses need to navigate the new trust frontier with customers and employees by showing how they use their data securely, protect their privacy and be transparent about the decisions made through artificial intelligence (AI).
And businesses are having to navigate the impact of automation on displacing some work, while helping the workforce ‘new skill’ in order to work with new intelligent technologies. Here they need to reestablish trust, rather than job insecurity.
As shareholders, customers, employees and citizens we increasingly care about responsible business, sustainability, social responsibility and organizational purpose. As this shift from ‘me’ to ‘we’ continues, we’re going to see increasing emphasis on new experiences and change for everyone’s lives and society.
How can organizations be the disruptors and not the disrupted? It’s critical that we stop seeing change as a one-time event.
A better analogy would be to think about businesses as living, breathing organisms—constantly changing and adapting.
Given the ever-changing conditions, we need to build agility into our businesses, the ability to change continually, and the ability to transform the business time and time again. Just think about the constant evolutions of world leaders like Netflix—they go from sending out DVDs, to streaming, to being an award-winning TV and film producer.
We studied the underlying dynamics of a number of companies and found they need both fast and stable DNA, a bit like riding a bike.
The stable DNA is about strength in leadership, talent and culture and the ability to move effectively in a way that generates value.
The fast DNA means you can move quickly, rapidly spotting threats, experimenting with new opportunities and scaling new revenue streams.
What is clear is that you won’t have success when approaching transformational change just thinking about today and trying to optimize it using technology alone. In any transformation effort, the human element is paramount—people are the change.
I think the best customer and employee experiences are where digital and human experiences are aligned. Where we think about customer and employee experience hand in hand.
This means approaching design and change with empathy, thinking about the overall relationship and trust with the employee and customer, the emotion at key moments that matter, and how we make the everyday experience delightful.
A good example of this is our work with Vodafone, where we created a solution called Intelligent Care, powered through artificial intelligence to proactively reach out to customers with information they need. It has improved customer and employee satisfaction, reduced in-bound calls by 1.5 million and increased the use of digital channels by 26 percent.
Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines, had it right. He was asked “Who comes first—your shareholders, your employees, or your customers?” He replied, “Well, that’s easy, employees come first, and if employees are treated right, they treat the outside world right, the outside world uses the company’s product again, and that makes shareholders happy.”
Being successful in a post-digital world is a very human thing, yet customers and employees can find it difficult to adopt to new technologies or new ways of doing things.
That’s where WalkMe comes in. I tell my teams that WalkMe allows us to augment the technology and the human with superpowers, a bit like Robert Downey Jr. in “Ironman.” WalkMe allows us to help people learn—whether they are new to your company, have changed roles, are doing something for the first time or just the first time in a long time.
As a digital adoption platform, WalkMe can be integrated inside the work of the colleague or the experience of the customer. The personalization and the contextualization makes experiences and work easier for people, lowering errors, reducing dropouts and allowing time for what we do best as humans—being creative, building relationships and solving complex problems.
Our really progressive clients are thinking about digital adoption as a core part of how they work and WalkMe as the platform to enable that all the time and everywhere.
It’s clear that disruption is here now and we’re in a post-digital world. Change is continual both in today’s business and building the business for the future.
We all need to remember that transformation is not created through technology alone. The successful businesses of the future will be the ones that unlock new value by going where technology, data and people meet in order to create new customer and colleague experiences.