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Vicky Dowdeswell

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How new technologies are changing the behaviour of people in the workplace.


As CEO of a global software company, I spend a significant proportion of my life travelling and visiting our various offices and the companies we serve around the world. No matter what industry sector our customers play in, I see all of them experiencing an immense change in the way they operate and compete and specifically how their employees engage with the business. The reasons for this are manifold, but one of the main drivers for this change is the way we are harnessing technology.


The Business environment is changing

Looking at the business environment, I believe there’s more uncertainty than ever. Globalisation means competition can come from anywhere, and it arrives faster than ever. Consumers have raised their standards, too. They’re used to getting what they want and they’ll tell the world about it if it’s not right. Additionally, Governments are aggressively introducing even greater amounts of legislation to protect their consumers. It’s also clear that the actual pace of change is itself accelerating. So not only is the world of work changing, it’s changing more rapidly than ever.


Organisations are adapting

On my customer visits, I see organisations of every size, in every country and in every industry feeling this change and their response varies considerably. In some cases they believe they will remain on their chosen course and weather the storm. In others, they acknowledge this change and are exploring how they can transform their operation. However in very few do I see real progress, with companies positively embracing the changes and new ways. 


Traditionally, organisations are structured in hierarchical bureaucracies, centrally managed from the top down, and structured by silos of activity. This approach has worked successfully for decades, yet the emerging new world of work favours a seemly less structured organisation. Organisations need to be agile, managed from the bottom-up and where value chains are fluid and extend to partners, suppliers and customers. This connected structure allows these organisations to get smarter faster and to preserve and distribute that knowledge with greater efficiency.


People expectations are different

This new way of operating favours the new entrants to the workforce. Today there are even more generations within or just about to enter the workforce and the age gap between these generations is getting much smaller. This coupled with more ethnicities in the workplace, each of whom have different expectations and motivations; adds to the rich and diverse makeup of the workforce.  And because we live and work in a global world, all these differences are magnified as we interact with people in different geographic locations.


Technology – an enabling force

I believe there are 3 main technologies that will have a significant impact on our working lives. The first is Mobile. Using ‘smart’ devices we are able to communicate with people and consume and create information, virtually anywhere and at any time. The second is Social software. This has created an environment where people can connect and interact in a network. The final technology is the Internet. We all understand how the internet has changed our lives, but now software companies such as mine are using it to deliver software in the cloud to the customer.  


These 3 technologies can be harnessed to create a wholly different experience. One that is a radical departure from the traditional database driven, transactional systems most organisations deploy to support their workforce.


Transformation at work

It’s easy to see this change coming if you look at the history of how technology has evolved in the service of business. We started by creating databases, then we moved to applications that took advantage of that data. Now we’re ready to connect people – to ideas, to the information they need, to each other – on a unified learning and talent management system built Social Enterprise Platform. That’s exactly what Saba offers with the Saba People Cloud.


At Saba, we’re harnessing these technologies to make them work for you, not against you. We’re incorporating them into our products to take advantage of the opportunities they create to improve communication, build connections, and streamline collaboration. The top-down, process-centric rigidly controlled environment in which systems were put in place to protect the organisations from people are over. Organisations in the new world of work need to be built around people, they’ll be driven by the wisdom of the crowd, and they’ll be trusted, because they will be transparent.


So where do you start

Companies that want and need to make this transformation can face an indomitable task. Our experience has shown that you need to build a simple business case and pilot around a specific issue or challenge, such as new hire on boarding, response times in customer service or a creative project. Then by working with your supplier you can stage the introduction of the system to support the business case and once proven, look at how to extend the value of your investment.


At Saba, the whole company uses the Saba People Cloud. It did not start out like that though. Initially our Product Management team piloted the product. Then they involved engineering, then marketing, then the big step – Sales. As a result we’ve been able to switch off many applications that supported intranets, wiki’s, Sharepoint, etc. The Saba People Cloud provides us with an operational infrastructure that is enabling us to work in so many different and effective ways. It’s self-sustaining and continually changing to meet the changing needs of our organisation.


At Saba, we are making the transformation and I believe that for nearly every organisation such a transformation is vital for their future success. The technology is proven and available today and so I encourage you to seriously explore how you can start transforming your organisation.


Saba (NASDAQ: SABA) enables organisations to build a transformative workplace that leverages the advent of social networking in business and the ubiquity of mobile to empower an organisation’s most mission-critical assets – its people. The company provides a set of people-centric enterprise solutions to various businesses and industries worldwide. Saba delivers cloud-based learning management, talent management, and social enterprise solutions to transform the way people work.

Saba’s premier customer base includes major global organizations and industry leaders in financial services, life sciences and healthcare, high tech, automotive and manufacturing, retail, energy and utilities, packaged goods, and public sector organisations.

2 Responses

  1. Great post and very relevant
    Great post and very relevant at the moment. We live in a hyper-connected world, where everybody is constantly “plugged in” want information instantly.

    The only way for employers to be responsive to customer demands is to be constantly “plugged in” themselves, that means making business systems available from the cloud and on all devices.

    Enabling customers to self-serve, automating and streamlining processes and using social platforms for customer interactions will be key. Customers have the power now and we must operate on their terms.

    Similarly, having an in-depth understanding of your customers and their challenges and goals will allow you to really add value. This can be done through powerful CRM profiling in your training management software
    or simply refined account management and market research skills.

    Using technology to measure training ROI and aligning this to central business functions and objectives, will help HR and L&D gain a seat at the “top table” – only then will they be able to facilitate real change to people and processes.

  2. Embracing new technology

    I think you make a valuable and interesting point about how technology in the workplace has evolved Mr Yazdani. One challenge many companies have though is actually embracing the incredible benefits of new technology.

    Companies are often paralysed through fear of allowing communications from the business to happen so quickly, sometimes without supervision, and placed where they may not be able to be deleted, in full few of clients, competitors and everyone else.

    What this means is that this fear of new technology means that these companies don’t learn by doing and if they do begin to bring on new technology, they are very limited in what they will allow it to do.

    Company structures are changing and control is being shared throughout, and I believe this approach leads to more enterprising companies with employees who are more engaged which ultimately means better results and technology is helping make this happen.

    durhamlane provide sales training courses and IT sales training


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Vicky Dowdeswell

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