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How intelligent cloud can increase employee engagement

On Cloud Nine

By Jon Foulkes, Microsoft Business Manager, Softcat

Globally, it’s estimated around 87 percent of staff are disengaged, costing the UK economy £340 billion each year in lost productivity.

Addressing this employee engagement crisis is key in the pursuit of increased competitiveness,output, and in recruiting and retaining today’s top talent.

Defined by Aon Hewitt as “the level of an employee’s psychological investment in their organisation”, many forward-thinking organisations are looking to technology -and more specifically intelligent cloud -as one of the potential solutions.

So, how can organisations best leverage intelligent cloud to empower employees to work to their full potential and boost workplace engagement?

  1. Connecting remote teams 

Over 50 percent of staff work away from their main office at least 2.5 days a week. This is a growing trend, with employees increasingly valuing the flexibility of when and where they work.

A flexible workforce has business benefits too: increased business agility,decreased sickness, lower staff turnover and improved scheduling for peak periods to name but a few.

However, connecting, sharing and engaging becomes increasingly difficult across dispersed locations. Fragmented and outdated technology makes working remotely frustrating for everyone. Investing in staff and providing the right technology to support a successful flexible working strategy is crucial.

A collaborative cloud suite provides a seamless working environment, allowing people to meet, co-author, create and find content quickly and easily. Underpinning successful modern flexible working is true employee connectedness.

Collaboration devices also have an important role to play in connecting dispersed teams with state-of-the-art communication capabilities, accelerating decision-making without losing the human element.

  1. Turning insights into actions 

Organisations have to cope with huge amounts of data being produced by every application, service and device used by employees. The challenge now is how best to transform data into intelligent insight that organisations can use to identify and improve technology or processes which hamper employee engagement.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is back in vogue due to the sheer compute power that public cloud presents. Coupled with modern applications, AI is opening up new possibilities, empowering organisations to tackle huge data sets quickly and cost-effectively.

For example, Machine Learning (ML) provides an important contribution to the employee experience. Individuals and virtual teams can now receive tailored search results based on projects they have been working on, who they have been working with and what documents they have worked on.

Workplace productivity dashboards can also give employees a clearer picture of productivity based on calendars, emails, documents, Skype and other information gleaned from usage data. This data can then highlight any efficiency bottlenecks and allow business processes to be streamlined.

  1. Keeping pace with security challenges

With a large proportion of the global workforce now working remotely, organisations need to support employee mobility such as increased workforce flexibility and collaboration.This cultural change will need to be matched by an equally modern approach to security and risk management.

Intelligent cloud platforms can use machine learning to provide risk-based conditional access based on the user, location (geo-location or IP address), device and application with a single sign-on, avoiding any unnecessary disruption.

Platforms also offer real-time threat detection, using advanced analytics to scour global intelligence and provide the necessary high-speed responses when needed. In a constantly evolving threat landscape, this is something an over-burdened IT team simply wouldn’t have the resources to do alone.

  1. Driving culture change

The final hurdle to overcome in the transition to intelligent cloud is gaining employee buy-in; without user adoption, you’re destined to fail.

This firstly involves changing the mantra from training as an expense, to training as an investment. Without the right amount of time and resources spent on educating employees about these tools, intelligent cloud products won’t be used to their full potential.

Inevitably, every organisation will have digital front-runners and those who are slower to adapt to change. To ensure employees are engaged, organisations should run regular training, drop-in sessions, and update activities to explain how new functionality and approaches will benefit individuals and the whole organisation.

Support this with top-down messaging – and top-down adoption –explaining how day-to-day roles will benefit from continuous improvements delivered by intelligent cloud platforms. Make sure to communicate the bigger picture as well, and how cloud platforms will support the pursuit of wider business goals and strategic growth through greater employee engagement and satisfaction.