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Unlocking the Potential of Digitalisation to Drive Efficiency in the Modern Workforce We still need to ask ourselves – are companies indeed investing in employee-focused technologies?

By Prasad Dhumal

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Our personal and professional lives have become increasingly characterized by an appreciation of and dependence on technology. This has made it a central part of daily interactions, decision making, and even a competitive advantage.

Our aging population, the rise of the millennial workforce, and automation of repetitive and physically intensive labor will in the future greatly transform most industries. To remain competitive, companies must develop fresh ways of recruiting, upskilling, and training the existing and future workforce.

Technology plays a vital role in maximizing efficiencies across industries. However, companies sometimes overlook the role that technology can play in the lives of employees. This could be in terms of engagement, retention, upskilling, empowerment and most importantly, execution. It all boils down to the most primary element that every organization aspires for, driving better efficiencies.

Technology - a Tool of Empowerment, Not a Threat; While conceptualizing digitalization strategies, organizations often focus on customer-centric improvements to products and services. However, an equal emphasis on introducing tech-based solutions that facilitate higher productivity amongst employees is crucial. In fact, while most employees see technology as a threat to their role, it can empower them to perform better. For instance, technology can enable employees to rid themselves of mundane tasks through automation, enhance speed, provide access to resources, and aid accuracy to create a more productive work environment.

Unfortunately, several employers are not able to fully leverage this opportunity. Recently in a Unisys survey that covered 12,000 employees across 12 nations. It analyzed technology used in workplaces and divided companies into two sections, technology leaders and technology laggards. Interestingly, the survey showed that 58 per cent of the employees at companies categorized as "technology laggards" did not have positive feelings towards their employers. These employees were apparently more likely to use downloads not supported by IT, or use various workarounds. In a lot of cases, this meant that they were, in all probability, working inefficiently and were causing security risks to their respective organizations.

Employee Efficiencies = Great Customer Experience; We have seen that empowering employees with tech-enabled tools to service the customers better automatically ensures precision in execution and better quality of service. Helping employees navigate through daily tasks more easily through faster processing of data and easier retrieval of information greatly contributes to shorter turnaround time and better efficiencies. In practical terms, that could mean a number of things. For example, there are softwares and applications that help sales executives, who are always on the go, plan their sales meetings and update it online without opening their laptops.

Chasing Perfection; Technology integration need not be complicated. These integrations can be in the form of simple tech-enabled solutions. For example, warehousing is increasingly looking at integration of wearables that will ease shipment sorting for employees, thereby enabling them to process shipments faster. Today, powerful capabilities like Artificial Intelligence (AI) can assist employees in more accurate decision making without the burden of manual assessments.

Better Connectedness Enabled; Digitalization also allows for openness and collaboration that can help employees engage better in teams and across offices in multiple geographies. This allows for a better exchange of insights resulting in more informed decisions. Investing in well-designed tools can help build a culture of knowledge sharing across all levels. Well-designed tools could include a systematic intranet, dynamic department-specific search options, seamless mobile access to tools, and constant multi-platform assistance of professional software.

Reports and analytics on trending content for various industry dynamics and stakeholder feedback help employees prioritize what they should focus on. A tool like an intranet mentioned above helps to remotely connect employees and simultaneously contribute to worldwide projects. At our company, we have an internal employee social networking mobile application that helps employees connect with each other across the company. Access to colleagues and information within the system is the key purpose of this application. So far, we have received very positive responses for this. In several cases, it has helped our people engage better across offices.

The Right Balance in the Application of Technology; While it is understandable why companies end up focusing on outward-facing systems and solutions, today more and more companies are catching up with the undeniable need to focus on easing execution for employees besides their engagement and involvement in the business. Striking the right balance between investing in technology for employees and customers requires better clarity in a company's vision through a reassessment of priorities at large. This is not a one-time exercise but a part of the very nature of business.

Today, technology allows companies to equip employees with tools that can optimize their performance. Employees constitute the lifeblood of an organization. However, we still need to ask ourselves – are companies indeed investing in employee-focused technologies? As business leaders, we are often inclined to focus on leveraging technology for our customers. In our organization, we follow a very simple principle of digitalization – technology has to ensure that it enables a great employee experience, an improved customer experience, and delivers operational efficiency with the right balance.

There is hidden value yet to be realized. Looking ahead into the future, and digitalization holds immense potential to revolutionize business processes across the entire value chain, creating unprecedented opportunities for operational efficiencies, new business models, and richer customer experiences. To stay ahead and actively shape this transformation, organizations need to continuously identify and leverage new trends.

Prasad Dhumal

Vice President - IT DHL Express India

Mr. Prasad Dhumal is currently the Vice President, Information Technology for DHL Express India.

Mr. Prasad started his career with DHL Express as a management trainee. Having spent his entire career with DHL, he has risen through ranks over the years undertaking several leading positions within the company. In January 2004 he was appointed the Head of IT for DHL Express India, at the age of 31, making him the youngest member of the senior management team. He subsequently went on to become Senior Director IT, South Asia in 2008, managing the IT function for neighbouring countries like Srilanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan & Maldives in addition to India. During his tenure, he worked very closely with business and functional heads of these countries contributing to the South Asia Area’s business growth. 

In 2007, Mr. Prasad’s successes was recognised by the IT industry and he was nominated among India’s Top Five CTO’s in the prestigious “CTO of the Year” Award. His efforts have earned him a place in India’s top 100 CIO’s as per an independent IT magazine survey (CIO Decisions) conducted in early 2008. Under His leadership, DHL India IT had won the best IT performance in the Asia Pacific award for 2 consecutively years in 2006 & 2007. In 2018, Prasad & his team’s efforts resulted in DHL Express India getting the most coveted Global CEO award for their GST implementation.

Mr. Prasad possesses a Bachelor’s in Science from MVM College, Bhopal. He did his Masters in Computer Management from Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies & Research (SICSR), Pune. 

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