The modern business environment is characterised by a giant hyper connected network in which every employee is connected in a myriad of ways and where information can travel instantly anywhere around the globe. Social networks are democratising access to information, while video calls enable people to keep in contact with overseas based friends and family.
In many workplaces, however, communication has become more cumbersome. The explosion in the availability of data and sources of information is also leaving staff that do not have access to business intelligence and analytics solutions, vulnerable to information overload (an oversupply of irrelevant information) or information silos (the lack of enough relevant information). This is down to the fact that consumers have embraced technology to a larger extent in their personal lives allowing it to drive productivity levels higher, while organisations have been slower to adapt.
In order for this to change, companies need to become responsive organisations, which requires a process of change management resulting in a restructured way of thinking about communication hierarchies to take advantage of open learning and experimentation.
Responsive organisations are able to respond rapidly to change by democratising and optimising the open flow of information. To do this, responsive organisations use social technologies to not only share and disseminate information, but also to help organise networks of employees and direct them towards common goals and purposes.
Putting the right data into the right hands
Within businesses the traditional structure for the flow of information involves a one-way movement of information from the top-down or from decision-makers down to the lower level staff. This structure is definitely not the best for companies that aim to keep up with the pace of change in today’s fast-paced business environment.
Getting the right data to the right employees as and when they need it is highly challenging within the modern workplace, especially when employees do not have access to the right technology tools. Within the connected age, tools that help automate workloads are no longer sufficient since non-routine workloads of staff are increasing to the point where it is having a very notable impact on the returns from the implementation of these technologies.
Productivity in this era boils down to empowering people to connect more rapidly with subject matter experts within the company to find the right information more easily. Social, information management, real-time communication and collaboration tools, as well as machine learning technologies need to be used in greater harmony to enable the modern workplace and modern worker.
Hastening the pace of decision-making to boost responsiveness
During the industrial period, the command and control style of leadership involving managers, middle-management, and workers was extremely efficient and effective, but in the connected era technology and virtually ubiquitous connectivity is boosting the ability of employees to self-organise, collaborate and communicate quicker and faster internally and outside of their organisation.
Rival businesses and new startups can quickly disrupt markets and industries and information flows faster. In the connected age, it is not necessarily managers who will possess the best insight and decision-making ability. Companies need to empower its staff to make more meaningful contributions rather than controlling the decision-making process through a traditional hierarchy.
To implement the technologies including the social technologies to make an organisation more responsive is relatively easy, but equally as important and far more challenging will be to apply change management that will transform the structures, processes, and cultures within a business. The end-goal of that process should be to make the company more open and non-hierarchical and consequently, agile enough to respond to threats and opportunities quicker and build a higher tolerance for disruption.
By Uriel Rootshtain, Business Group Lead – Office Division at Microsoft.