From economic and political instability to regulatory uncertainty companies have certainly had to carefully manage their strategic priorities during the past year. Gys Kappers, CEO of Wyzetalk, examines what they can expect from 2018.

“The business environment is never without its challenges. Yet, even amidst these, there are opportunities to be found. We have seen how the gap between executives and technology has narrowed. And while there is still a general lack of designing proper implementation plans, this provides a platform for growth into the new year.”

Kappers believes that even though this consolidation [between software and technology platforms] will continue, the need to appoint a chief experience officer (CXO) is there. This person and team will become responsible for the overall experience the company has internally and externally for those that touch its products and services – a vital element of the digital world.

Bespoke approach

“One of the ways this will be done is through personalisation. This presents businesses with arguably one of the biggest opportunities for internal management in 2018. Machine-learning (or AI) will become more prevalent and create a more customised experience for internal and external stakeholders.”

Using the data and analysis coming from multiple productivity and HR systems, companies can now be more influential in how they engage with employees. This, in turn, will impact the customer relationship as well with people looking for more simplicity in solutions that cater for their specific requirements.

This creates an enabling environment where employee engagement (and performance) can be measured much more effectively than in the past. A real-time analysis helps the process of continual improvement through carefully designed interventions based on accurate statistics.

Increasing flexibility

“By using machine-learning, companies will take much of the administrative burden from employees, leaving them with more time to focus on their core deliverables. And, by becoming more efficient, have more time to spend away from the office environment. This is where South African companies are waking up to the possibilities of doing business from any mobile device and at any time.”

The reality of doing business and living in a digital-rich environment, means the way we communicate is also changing. Kappers says this is putting the focus on generating more ‘snackable’ content and using systems that not only listen to what employees are saying but also fast-track responses to be more reflective of a real-time environment.

“These digital approaches are finally creating a communications parity for everyone in the organisation – from the hyper-connected head office worker to the employees at the coalface and remote region. But even though more people are using smart devices, there needs to be more cost-effective (if not free) ubiquitous access to all. This will help address issues of education, literacy, and skills development and is vital before we can say smart apps are consumed on an equal level by all South Africans.”

This person and team will become responsible for the overall experience the company has internally and externally for those that touch its products and services – a vital element of the digital world.

Collaborative environment

Achieving this communications parity is also necessary for true collaboration to happen. And this does not have to be viewed as a technology-only solution but one that reflects an evolving company culture that is more embracing of doing things differently.

“From this, we will see mobile technology being used to bring multiple systems together, making it easier for employees to manage their work life with productivity tools like leave processing, e-learning, wellness, logistics, and other elements. It will lead to the automation of many HR systems.”

And working in an environment focused on continuous improvement, a different approach to training and developing employees will be adopted. This changing workplace is all about organising teams of multi-skilled people and companies need to put the human element at the core of their strategic development.

Everything digital

“In South Africa, we are at the cusp of truly entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution where automation and data exchange across technologies will become commonplace. But before that happens, decision-makers need to think beyond legacy systems and embrace digital solutions that take their organisations to the next level of innovation.”

Kappers says that while much of this will change the fundamentals of how organisations think about their target market, it will result in a more knowledgeable organisation that knows more about all their stakeholders and design systems around that.

“Given how digital has become a part of our professional and personal lives, companies will be more open to adopt elements of each to create an enabling environment for its workforce that puts people at its centre.”