Directors and managers throughout organisations are looking deeper into the processes involved in capturing employee behaviour data; analytics is no longer only the remit of the marketing team. However, the enthusiasm for collecting data isn’t always aligned with business objectives. It is repeatedly found that organisations lack the level of information governance needed to reap the full value of their analytics.
Senior leaders, and all employees, want clear, useful content that’s easy to access on any device, and that motivates aligned behaviour. Simply put, corporate content needs to be helpful and easy to act upon.
Employee engagement must be part of the digital transformation journey, and is obviously part of digital workplace adoption. Companies therefore need the tools and channels to reach diverse audiences, and the analytics to measure impact. Yet, most companies do not have analytics services in place. Without employee involvement and measurement, transformation will take longer, cost more, or fail.
“We are entering a data-driven age of precision decision-making. If companies make decisions without the right information, they are either lucky or wrong, which is quite scary. The availability and accuracy of analytics that materially help leaders understand data will be key to competing in the future of work,” says Bethany Garland (pictured right), Product Evangelist at the employee engagement app company, mHub.
Garland is currently focused on building mHub’s analytics to showcase relevant data. “It shows deeper insights and relationships while remaining simple to use. In a world of information overload, beautiful and simple data visualisation feels like a relief.”
In this interview, Garland shares some trends on the future of work and her views on the importance of using analytics to make decisions that impact the bottom line.
Gloria Lombardi: Based on your research and experience with enterprise clients, what are the top trends that will deliver change in 2017?
Bethany Garland: Gartner conducts the world’s largest annual CIO survey to track how senior IT leaders around the world balance priorities. It is a glimpse into the future. It’s a great way to enable CIOs and people like me to compare the priorities and actions for the year ahead with their global peers.
According to Gartner, the top four technologies that will deliver change in 2017 are analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), digital security, and business algorithms.
Of these top four changemakers, 81% of CIOs believe that analytics will have the greatest impact — and Gartner suggests analytics should be at the top of CIO’s action plans for the year.
GL: Why, in your opinion, is analytics so crucial to the future of work?
BG: Without analytics, companies cannot measure the effectiveness of what they are doing, which leads to a big waste of time, money, and productivity. It would be like sailing a ship without navigation aids – possible, but slower, and dangerous at times.
Analytics has to be a cornerstone of any plan or initiative. It has to underpin everything businesses do. Once they have good analytics in place, they can begin changing faster and more effectively – knowing what works and what doesn’t. Yet, it is worrying to see how reluctant some businesses are to get into measurement and analytics. I believe there’s a knock-on effect upon innovation. It is those businesses that will not be able to transform themselves and survive.
It is incredibly empowering to have all the right information and data, presented in a way that is easy to understand, and available on mobile devices. This is critical right now, and it is only going to become even more critical as business speeds up in the connected world.
GL: How are you approaching analytics at mHub?
BG: I am designing analytics that tells a story through data visualisation that is simple to understand. It allows the user to focus only on the important information and takes the guesswork out of the decision-making process. Analytics that helps companies to do more of the things that work. It’s not about telling people what to do. It is about providing the information to enable them to make the best decisions possible, quickly. Many struggle as they drown in a sea of data. The challenge (and the opportunity) is honing in on the key information.
Businesses use mHub for different purposes – communications, employee engagement, change management, training, knowledge sharing, and supporting productivity. So, my job is to build analytics that is appropriate to the many different uses and within the appropriate context for users. It can be specific content analytics or overall trend analysis with aggregate data.
For example, some companies use mHub to cut through the noise and deliver critical, strategic updates to the whole business in real-time. If the message needs to cascade throughout the business consistently, then it is important to know that everyone has seen it – and what actions employees have taken afterwards. With our analytics, they can identify specific groups of staff that have not seen the message and come to understand why they haven’t. If it is a video, for instance, how many watched it until the end? If the key message was half-way through, but before that point 60% of the audience has already dropped out, then the company knows that a large number didn’t see the core message, and that videos probably need to be shorter.
Companies can quickly identify silos, and target their engagement efforts to specific groups of employees. They can easily separate the successful communications from the ones that did not go so well. Most importantly, they can better understand their audience; discovering which formats staff prefer, how they like to consume knowledge, and how they want to access corporate information.
Another example is health and safety policy updates. It’s usually necessary to know that all team members have been given up-to-date information and whether they have understood it. Particularly with remote workers. It is essential to ensure the compliance and safety of all the employees in the field and the general public. With mHub, users are notified with instant policy updates, and the company can understand virtually immediately from the analytics who has seen it.
GL: Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the move from descriptive to predictive and prescriptive analytics. Any particularly thoughts on those?
BG: Predictive analytics is interesting. At mHub, for example, it is useful around the area of self-training – you watched a particular type of video, then the system predicts that you might also find this other video to be useful.
At the same time, it is important to be careful with recommendations. The danger is to filter too much – putting users into bubbles where they do not see the full picture.
But, it is useful when it is aimed at saving people time and not throwing too much content at them. The same applies to knowledge sharing. We have one customer who uses our app to save their employees’ time when searching for information – we are working on algorithms that use data to predict what the user is searching for, and which content will be most useful to them by reordering it to the top of the list.
Predictive analytics is helpful for forecasting communications trends too. For example, by predicting the specific times to send out a piece of communication to have the biggest impact – whether it is reach or engagement.
GL: Beside analytics, what are the other building blocks of successful digital transformation?
BG: First, the culture and the leadership. Otherwise, you are just throwing technology around, which is not the full solution and rarely leads to true business change. Digital transformation requires intentionality, vision, and strategy.
Secondly, it is the people. If companies want to transform faster they have to bring everyone with them. Analytics has a part to play – organisations need to see what resonates with their employees, what motivates them, what works to bring all of them into that journey together, and what information is needed for staff to understand new processes and ways of doing things.
As with any change, it is the engagement work that counts – anyone who wants to transform the organisation but ignores their people will invest without getting a return.
Finally, pioneering organisations are not going on this journey alone. They are creating digital ecosystems. According to Gartner, 79% of the top performing digital businesses participate in a digital ecosystem, and 78% of the them proactively engage with start-ups. Start-ups move at speed, and can provide big corporates with the innovation, agility, and creativity they need to solve their digital transformation challenges.
Picture of a business man looking at analytics on table: unsplash.com, Olu Eletu
Picture of analytics displayed on a desktop computer: unsplash.com, Carlos Muza