Why CIOs and CEOs Need to Remember That People Are Only Human

I'm fortunate to spend time with many CEOs and the common theme discussed more often than not, regardless of industry or size, is how to secure the long-term relevancy of a company, to be as innovative and agile as the disrupters in their industry. To do so under economic duress, with heavy bottom line focus has become an acute challenge. To do this, CEOs are looking to increase staff productivity, allow them to engage customers and their employers anywhere, any time and on any device. This need is heralding a new age of working, with a digital environment at its core.

People can now do amazing work with the web-based tools that they use at home creating, sharing and storing files, to making online video calls, allowing better interaction and working practices than those available in the office. It makes sense that businesses are looking to transform their working practices by harnessing these tools to make it easier for staff to do their jobs more effectively. In this way, the needs of the CEO and staff have aligned - to increase productivity and allow team-based collaboration and idea generation. The ability for a company to deliver long-term innovation, new products and services, is the single most effective way to maintain relevancy in any industry.

In order to achieve business transformation desired by CEOs, CIOs and staff, it's important to keep the following in mind:

1. People like to work together (not in isolation)
According to a study by research scientist Ben Waber, the secret to effectiveness and happiness at work is communication, friendship and social interaction. How is this reflected in today's office technology, if we still encourage staff to work in silos, only letting others input into a document one at a time, for instance? Would a more effective process be to allow everyone to contribute in the same document at once, to share ideas and inspire each other? Another example is remote working. While physical distance between teams is sometimes unavoidable, the technology in our working environments should help to bring us together. It therefore needs to replicate a face-to-face discussion, while being simple to use. Online video conferencing is a fantastic, cost effective way to do this, giving that feeling of face-to-face interaction across distances.

2. People lose stuff
IT teams understand that people lose stuff. Recent research found that half of companies have lost a portable computing device with important data stored on it and 22% said the lost device had security implications for the organisation. By ensuring that everything is stored in the cloud instead of on the device, the device becomes simply a window to the web. This means that if laptops are left on the train or in the back of a taxi, any cached data or credentials can be remotely erased and the business remains protected.

3. We are largely creatures of habit
Most of us are prone to sticking to set processes. To a certain extent you have to make allowances for this. For instance, our online collaboration suite Google Apps was developed around search, one of our core areas of expertise, but we soon realised that people were not used to this and needed folders, even though clicking through folder sets can be much more time-consuming than just typing in the first word of the document you are looking for. IT departments should be aware of the changes in processes which are likely to disorientate staff the most and anticipate how to make things easier for them.

4. We are often scared of change
As we all know, when a business does make a change, not everyone will support it instantly. That's why getting out on the office floor and talking to staff about how the change will help them do their job better is so important.

Effective change is built on strong and consistent communication, whether it requires explanation of the benefits to the employees themselves, the company, or customers. Cloud computing reduces the significant burden of IT administration from the IT team so they can afford to spend this time helping staff to work in a way that suits their environment and their role. Making the best use of the exciting ‘human-friendly' communication options available today allows for more productive, more content and more innovative staff. Through recognising this ‘human side of IT' and accommodating how people really want to work, CEOs and CIOs can transform their business and ensure the long term relevancy of their company.


By Thomas Davies, head of Google Enterprise for the UK and Ireland



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