As technologies advance and herald new levels of optimization and efficiencies, many organizations have rightfully and earnestly sought more productive yet cost-effective ways of delivering IT driven by the mantra "do more with less". But despite the fervor, the verity of doing more with less can be so easily misconstrued or distorted if it is not applied without proper consideration for new factors of success in the digital era.
For instance, businesses should carefully study the impact of their quests for greater efficiency and productivity, and avoid the pitfalls of overworked resources.
Michael Mankins, a partner in Bain & Company, observed that many companies monetize efficiency gains through workforce reductions to improve profitability. This is sound strategy during periods of healthy growth but leaner times call for a different approach because “wringing out greater profits through efficiency has become the managerial equivalent of attempting to squeeze blood from a stone,” he wrote.
Companies faced with slowing business, Mankins suggested, should obsess over productivity – expanding the output of goods and services to deliver greater earnings growth from the same workforce – not efficiency.
Companies that adopt a productivity mindset, he added, seek to cut resource-sapping red tape; simplify the organizational structure and processes; and create ways of working that allow employees to focus their time on delivering value for customers and shareholders. These companies also ensure their star talent is assigned to business-critical roles and inspire every employee to do their best work with ingenuity and creativity.
A decade ago, amid a brewing global financial crisis and slowing economy, Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, warned how multitasking undermines productivity. “To effectively reenergize their workforces, organizations need to shift their emphasis from getting more out of people to investing more in them, so they are motivated – and able – to bring more of themselves to work every day.”
To this end, the 2017 Global Talent Trends study by Mercer described how organizations are ensuring that the “people agenda” is not lost in the drive to stay ahead in a disruptive world. They are transforming structures and jobs for increased efficiency, agility and customer intimacy; establishing new rewards paradigm for employees; and harnessing advances in technology to increase the flexible work options available to their workforce.
Technology will play a key role in empowering people to be more productive and creating a better experience for both employees and customers. Gartner’s 2017 CIO Agenda: A Southeast Asia Perspective survey found that IT leaders in the region are grappling with “a significant increase in organizational revenue expectations and an overall lack of skills in all areas”.
“To achieve business expectations, CIOs need to increase their spending on digitalization as a proportion of IT spending,” said Siddharth Deshpande, principal research analyst at Gartner. “While increasing discrete IT spending does not automatically correlate to more revenue growth, increasing spending on digitalization certainly has a direct correlation with increased revenue for the business. We recommend that SEA CIOs increase the proportion of their IT budget spent on digitalization to at least 40%, to align with global digital leaders.”
Such spending will enable organizations to monetize products and services rapidly using new business models made possible by emerging technologies. The IT staff efficiencies resulting from automation and optimization that technologies such as virtualization and software-defined infrastructure as well as cloud computing offer will be essential to mitigating the impact of talent shortages. By deploying self-services with machine learning and self-healing attributes, for example, organizations can minimize human intervention and cost, suggested F5 Networks.
The risk management perspective has to be considered too with the business imperative to build trust and resilience in the digital world. Here, presenting a compelling story on the state of your enterprise security, the business risks and the mitigation plan is critical to helping top management face the very real possibility of a cyber breach and make informed decisions relating to accepting a risk or championing a solution.
More importantly, clarity on the demands and risks of digitalization will help business leaders allocate spending wisely and not try to do too much with too little.
This is a QuestexAsia feature commissioned by F5 Networks Asia Pacific.