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How Modern Applications Engage Your Workforce

26 Oct 2017 by Claudia Hrynyshyn

Technology has leveled the playing field for customers, employees and business leaders alike, creating a cycle of digital experiences in which all parties involved either benefit or struggle.

In this ecosystem, today’s employees are hyperconnected consumers outside of work, leveraging the cloud for seamless user experiences. But as new technologies such as the cloud increase the velocity of change, traditional enterprise applications and legacy systems are notorious for evolving slowly. What’s the impact of this slow pace?

Let’s discuss how enterprise applications are affecting today’s workers and why upgrading applications has become more critical than ever.

Dismal data: The U.S. workforce

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report gives a sobering look at American workers. Released this year, the report reveals that only 33% of workers are engaged in their jobs — and technology is often the culprit. Only three out of 10 U.S. employees report having the tools they need to do their jobs well, and the lack of these resources is the highest indicator of job stress.1

With millennials on track to dominate the workforce population, a meager 29% of them are engaged at work — the least of any generation — according to another Gallup study from 2016. And, with millennials’ reputation for job hopping and nontraditional W-2 work, Gallup estimates the annual cost of millennial workforce turnover to be $30.5 billion. In this scenario, both the business and individuals suffer — because technology has made the two inseparable.

Legacy systems’ ripple effect

As applications age, they become more difficult to support. Resources to address the complexities are dwindling fast, creating a maintenance nightmare with every customization or change. And, since more and more vendors are ending support for legacy apps, support costs surge.

But that’s just on the IT side. Legacy applications are slowing workforce productivity, creating a maze of disparate platforms and hindering collaboration. As the above data shows, the workers using legacy apps are increasingly unsatisfied, demanding more from their job experiences. Using outdated systems to serve consumers, in particular, causes frustration that reflects back to the employee and the overall business represented.

“True digital transformation is a convergence of employee and customer experience,” says Raheel Retiwalla, director of digital business at BlueMetal, a division of Insight. “If you don’t enable your employees to work friction-free and improve their experiences, you stand the chance of not being able to differentiate your customer experience, and your bottom line will suffer.”

The difference between legacy and modern apps

There are a few key distinctions between legacy and modern applications for the enterprise. The first is user experience. Whereas traditional applications require users to adapt to the design of the application, modern applications are built to operate the way users prefer to work.

The second difference is ease of access. Legacy apps only allow information to be accessed from within the application, but modern apps allow seamless access from multiple sources through a consistent user experience.

Thirdly, legacy applications were developed in isolation, making sharing information with other applications difficult. Modern applications, on the other hand, are developed according to application and security standards to create a cohesive experience across applications.

Using journey maps to drive transformation

At the end of the day, applications should save you time and effort — not make more work. In order to begin the journey to modernizing applications, treat employees as if they were customers.

Customer journey mapping, a method widely used by forward-thinking startups and enterprises alike, involves diagramming the steps your customers take to engage with your company, whether that be through a product, online experience, retail experience, service or any combination of those.

Enterprises can use the customer journey map as a template to create an employee journey map that outlines how they prefer to work, interact and share information. Explore where they struggle to do their jobs efficiently. Find the pain points, and then prioritize initiatives to remove the friction, leveraging a modern app development partner to build out new experiences focused on user-centric — not system-centric — design. As the enterprise drives adoption, applications can be continuously improved by regularly gauging employee satisfaction. This creates a virtuous cycle of improvement and employee engagement.

As individuals gain more control over their digital work experiences, both agility and productivity increase. Collaboration becomes seamless, allowing employees to focus on delivering innovative experiences to customers to keep the business and brand relevant and strong.

1 Gallup. (2017). State of the American Workplace.

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