Why Your Digital Transformation Should Focus On Employees, Too

It isn’t just about the customer, says Moxtra CTO Stanley Huang. Connecting employees with each other is critical to your whole operation today.
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Your digital transformation strategy shouldn’t focus only on benefiting customers, Stanley Huang, co-founder and CTO of Moxtra, a Cupertino, California, company that provides businesses with customer-facing mobile apps. Particularly in this age of remote work, it’s critical that technology help bring employees together.

Huang talked with StrategicCIO360 about the importance of ensuring the employee experience is just as rewarding as the customer experience, how that helps fuel better customer experiences and the CIO’s role in both efforts.

How has the expedited digital transformation seen during the pandemic evolved the employee experience and expectations from their employers?

For the high tech businesses in Silicon Valley, the employee experience was likely impacted less than in traditional industry businesses. They are already accustomed to using those types of systems and technologies for more digitally-driven work. For all industries, there are some common impacts, as well as changes that need to be made. Right now, with a majority of employees still working remote, it’s definitely harder to measure and evaluate a company’s employee experience. Management needs to leverage KPIs and rely on data to determine expectations of employees, like what teams need more support and which projects need more attention.

For the employee, there are definitely benefits and disadvantages of the expedited digital transformation that occurred over the course of the pandemic. While many get to stay home and forgo the commute to work everyday, employees can be lonely and isolated from a business perspective by working remotely. However, virtual meetings and team syncs remain the basic foundation right now.

Companies should reframe their employee mindset to focus on connecting them to each other, rather than to a central office. The remote work experience has likely taken a toll on many workers, making an improved employee experience even more critical. Employees expect more out of their companies to keep the employee experience matched to the level it was before the pandemic. Employers need to leverage digital solutions, among other things, to better connect their teams and keep all their employees happy.

Why should CIOs be considering employee experience just as much as customer experience?

When you’re defining your business’ strategy and execution, it’s vital for organizations to understand and convey to their customers who exactly you are and what you can provide them with. Internally, it’s the same situation. Your employee is your customer. Every employee needs to know at a high level what the management team is thinking in regards to the company vision, and what is expected of them to make this happen. When adjustments need to be made, teams and your employees will understand why. If employees are in the dark about the company vision, when you provide a change in direction then it is more difficult to pivot in that new direction.

In addition, it’s extremely difficult to be a customer-centric business unless you also treat your employees like customers and provide them with positive experiences. Employees need to feel valued, trusted and respected to influence the bottom line for their business. CIOs should be motivating their employees with purpose, and provide proper support to do their jobs effectively.

A key in maintaining a positive employee experience is gaining feedback from employees themselves, and truly gaining confirmation that your employees are satisfied. Every company can benefit from improving its employee experience. When employees are prioritized by their company, that is the first step in creating success that in turn benefits customers.

What should small businesses with no formal IT leadership consider when investing in new technology?

For small businesses with no IT leadership, investing in new technologies can be an extremely daunting task. However, in today’s world, digital transformation is essential to the success of a business. One of the most effective efforts for small businesses is to take a look at their competitors. What kinds of technology have they implemented? How did they do it? How is it supporting their customers and benefiting their business? How good, or bad, is their movement? Since competitors may vary in scale and some of them could spend tons of resources and investment on their IT department already, movement is the important data to pay attention to when making a comparison against other players in the same industry.

This one may seem obvious, but searching online can be extremely beneficial to small businesses. Discovering what the top practices and solutions to solve specific business needs are can help inform you on what works, and if it will work for your own business. There is more than enough information available in the market to help guide you in beginning the process of adopting newer technologies.

After diving into research and other data you’ve found, it’s essential to evaluate your business’ exact situation right now. For example, what is the most urgent problem, what is blocking our growth at the moment, what is the potential risk, etc. It’s critical to analyze how your business needs fit into the picture, to ensure that adopting a specific technology will solve the needs of your organization.

Ultimately, following these steps can assist any small or medium-sized business that lacks IT leadership in finding the best strategy to grow their business through technology investments.

What do CIOs need to consider as the country returns to normal—or a “new normal?”

Most likely, the CIOs are just getting a chance to take a break from dramatically fast changes that have occurred throughout the past year. All changes in the past year were reactive, and while that was what was necessary, now is a chance for CIOs to gain the ground back and be more proactive. CIOs need to rethink their 2021 plan from all perspectives, from vision to strategy, and all the way down to execution.

The most critical step is the vision part. Things are reshaping, and with this, most organizations are having dramatic changes in their vision. The most important part to think about is what is your vision, what has been changed, where is the risk, etc. It’s important to also differentiate which changes have been positive and which are negative. How have customer expectations evolved, and how does this affect our vision? All of those questions needed to be answered at the vision level before moving forward.

Once you find an answer for those, then you can go back to strategy and execution. What is the expectation for the upcoming year, and how is your business going to strategize to bring it to fruition? Consider your budget and where investing will take you the furthest, and take into account where there may be unanticipated changes. The final step is executing the vision, and thinking realistically about how your team, which is likely remote, is going to bring this vision to life. This is also likely going to include long-term planning and establishing checkpoints along the way. While CIOs don’t need to fully own the vision, they do play a key role. However, collaboration with other executives can help offer several strong perspectives and assist in carrying out the initial vision. Especially in regards to technology, it needs to be serving the business. The starting point of aligning technology and your business goals is to understand the vision of the business. Start with that value positioning and use it as a lens for any decision made about technology. Once you’ve put the business vision at the center of your focus, you can decide how technology can best serve that vision. CIOs should always have the overall business vision at its heart, before considering a strategy.

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