Managing culture through a period of growth or change such as a series of acquisitions, can be one of the toughest challenges medium-sized organisations face. And, sustaining your culture is extremely important for two core reasons. First, the influence it has upon how engaged your employees are, which second, leads to a direct impact on customer experience.
But what drivers underpin the cultural changes occurring within your organisation? These can be grouped into two distinct areas, internal and external. While internal factors, such as hiring people and organisational processes are within your control. External factors are not. The changing external competitive environment, which includes things such as economic, financial, social, legal and political factors all impact your culture. How you embrace and deal with them makes a huge difference to the effectiveness of your business.
The impact of technology on culture
Technological advances for example, are external factors that constantly change how both your employees and customers interact with you, impacting culture. Take the advent of collaboration tools and high speed connectivity. This has enabled a generation of people to work remotely, from anywhere in the world. Yet, while this brings many positives to organisations in the form of access to a wider pool of skills, it has huge implications for your culture with people no longer physically present.
Similarly, customers now expect to contact you in anyway they choose, and at whatever time of day suits them. The rise of the omnichannel experience opens up new revenue streams. Yet operationally, your business needs to be able to support this new dawn of customer demand, meaning implications for your organisation.
How does technology enhance culture?
Yet, while technology impacts culture, it also has a role in sustaining and enhancing it – helping to build trust, deliver democratisation and engender accountability for example. Yes, values and processes are likely the most obvious factors you would regard as important to developing your culture. Technology however, is vital too – boosting organisational effectiveness to deliver a greater customer experience.
The culture of trust and innovation
Providing people with the tools that empower them to work how and where they want, creates a huge degree of trust. It helps to form bonds, which is hugely important in building the foundations of a great culture.
According to a study, people working in high-trust companies report 106 percent more energy at work and 76 percent more engagement than those working in low-trust companies. The saying goes that happy people equals happy customers. However, they’re also twice as likely to create a more innovative environment within the workplace than the correlation with customer focus. There’s a greater, long-term benefit to business outcomes delivered by keeping people happy and engaged.
The democratisation of data
Modern technologies and applications have pushed access to information into the hands of many, rather than a few. IT, working with the business can develop, create and gain access to rafts of data. This enables greater decision-making to advance the customer experience.
Imagine being able to offer a customer a particular deal or discount instantly, because you have critical information about their account at your fingertips. Rather than going through a labourious process of approvals. This greater level of data transparency and decision-making is critical to developing a positive culture of empowerment.
However, an MIT study found that 80 percent of business decision-makers say they lack the skills internally to exploit their data. For mid-sized organisations particularly, this is where the skills of a passionate partner can reap huge rewards to help you identity the insights derived from your technology investment.
The culture of accountability
A new age of people live in a world with more transparency than we’ve ever known. Cloud and mobile technologies securely provide information instantly to any of us, at any given time.
Organisations and their employees can also leverage these technologies to gain a greater understanding of the business, all the way to the top. With a transparent view of processes and operations, employees can help their organisation spot operational trends, identify issues, and suggest improvements.
This in turn allows everyone to embrace a culture of transparency. If problems arise, they can be addressed quickly. Culture then becomes one of quick-fire learning and commitment – a continuous feedback loop, passed onto the customer in the form of greater experience. A direct result of the ability to maximise the performance of the organisation both operationally and through its processes.
The technology enabler
Bringing together people across businesses and cultures is a challenge and can be influenced by factors outside of your control. In a world where customers demand increasingly more from your organisation, and where it’s a big differentiator too, technology can be a real enabler of creating and enhancing culture for a greater good.