Posts

There’s no denying that business transformation – powered by digital communications – has vastly accelerated during the pandemic. 2020 started the decade as the most transformative year ever – setting the stage for digital acceleration and the dramatic rise of the employee experience as far more than just an idea or concept.

85% of 800 executives in a recent McKinsey survey said their organization has increased digitization somewhat or greatly since the pandemic began. Transformation in the pre-pandemic era was slow and painful, and often provided little benefit to an average employee other than often making them redundant.

The massive difference in post-pandemic transformation is the focus on, and active participation of, virtually all employees at all levels and areas of an organization. Digital communications and collaborations have flattened the organization while increasing the speed of responsiveness and employee effectiveness.

For companies to continue to build on these gains – since there’s no turning back the clock to ‘before covid’ – companies must move from making process-focused technology choices to making people-focused ones – and that means prioritizing the employee experience, underpinned by a foundation of digital employee communications.

What is the digital employee experience? How is it materially different today than the world before 2020? And where is it going next?

History can actually provide guidance on the road ahead. Looking back about 10-15 years the proliferation of digital process reengineering took the corporate world by storm – moving away from paper, and automating many labor-intensive and redundant efforts. Many of the early solutions were made by innovators – mostly deployed on-premise – and not well integrated. They were built for and used by, a limited number of employees with deep experience in specific areas/functions of the business that was being transformed.

As digital process transformation took hold, those early innovators gave way to major players like SAP and Oracle who built bigger, more integrated solutions that could manage larger end-to-end process flows. But still designed for, and used by, a limited subset of highly trained employees (such as HR and finance professionals or manufacturing management) with limited ‘self-service’ for the rest.

Fast forward to now; the focus of digitization is well beyond basic automation, and data/transaction processing and is squarely focused on helping people make better decisions – decisions that often involve complex data or context to determine the best path forward. 

The problem today – like the issues many years ago – is that the proliferation of innovative solutions has again become confusing and overwhelming – mainly because these new apps are used by virtually all employees (not a small subset of experts or functional areas), and these new solutions impact the day-to-day, hour-to-hour workloads of all company employees – including those on the front-line.

In fact, a recent survey of IT executives found that nearly 80% of employees use as many as 6-10 online tools just to communicate. And a recent Gartner report stated that workers are digitally overwhelmed:

• 68% of employees spend much of the day toggling between apps

• 28% of their time is spent on email

• 20% is spent looking for information

• 400x – how often they context switch (e.g., get interrupted) in a given day

As a result, much of an employee’s daily work experience is now dictated by their interactions with these solutions which are making life more stressful and complex – rather than less.

The solution is conceptually simple, but technically and operationally not – make communications as seamless and friction-free as possible. We know this approach is completely viable – it’s been the mantra for the consumer experience for many years. And it’s time for the employee experience to catch up.

IT, communications, and HR leaders have come to realize that employees are the “customers” in the new digital workplace. Employees have countless demands on their attention and, to be engaged effectively, must be reached at the right time and in the right place —much like consumers. Simply put, the medium is as important as the message. “When” and “where” is as critical as the “what.”

How to Succeed in the Post-Pandemic World: Take a page from the Marketing Tech Playbook

Companies have deployed dozens of technologies in an effort to digitally transform their business processes. But these have often created friction and silos for users. To address such challenges, take a page from the consumer experience world and apply marketing technology features to modernize and unlock the full value of your employee communications and the employee experience.

The key difference with today’s technology and that of 10-15 years ago is the Cloud ecosystems that innovators can build upon. Many new solutions are being built that plug directly into the major Clouds platforms – be that Microsoft 365 or Azure, SalesForce, SAP, Oracle, AWS, etc.

Most notable in the context of the employee experience and communications is Microsoft. The Microsoft 365 platform touches far more of an organization’s employees than any other simply because it provides the core applications employees use every day: Outlook and Teams. 

To leverage this nearly ubiquitous presence, and encourage third-party application development on the Microsoft 365 and Azure Clouds, Microsoft has launched a new Employee Experience Platform called Viva. This confluence of factors has resulted in a proliferation of new and innovative third-party employee experience and communications solutions available in the Microsoft AppSource and Azure Marketplaces to meet this rapidly growing market segment.

How to Make the Most of these Digital EX Platforms and Innovative Apps:

  • Meet employees Where They Are: Don’t force employees to change their ways of working. Put your content where they spend most of their working day. For most employees, that’s Microsoft 365 and especially, Microsoft Teams.
  • Omnichannel Reach: Your organization needs the ability to reach all employees everywhere—not just in a specific office or physical location, but also on any endpoint the employee uses for work – especially in a hybrid workplace. That endpoint could be any device – phone, laptop, tablet, running any OS.
  • Targeting & Analytics: Employees are busy – and overburdened with irrelevant content. The more focus on targeting the right content to the right people using the right channels at the right time will result in far greater awareness and engagement by employees. Marketing has been doing this for years.
  • Automation: The more granular targeting and channel management, the more personalized the experience is for the employees, and the more likely they are to engage with the content being delivered. In the past this effort has been mostly manual, resulting in either costly labor to accomplish the effort, or more often, simply not undertaking it in the first place. Today’s latest apps, including the use of AI, are automating the distribution and management of content far better than anything before. And again, marketing has been doing this for years.
  • Intelligence: As you take the pulse of your workforce and collect data on employee engagement, online and offline behavior, and preferences, you’ll gain insight to help optimize employee communications and the employee experience.

The digital employee experience has been on the radar of IT, communications, and HR executives for a few years but the pandemic has turned the spotlight on it as a true organizational priority. The rapid technological change coupled with the increasing demands of employees and the realities of a post-covid hybrid workplace will be a key factor in determining which companies succeed in the post-pandemic era.

About Michael Rudnick

Michael Rudnick is CEO and Co-Founder of Velaku, one of a new breed of Employee Experience solutions that plug directly into the Microsoft 365 platform, including Viva – to improve employee and HR communications. Michael is a graduate of Women In Cloud’s Accelerator cohort 4.0. Michael is a frequent speaker and thought leader on the digital transformation of employee communications to improve the employee experience. Prior to co-founding Velaku Michael founded one of the first Intranet consultancies, and spent a decade leading Willis Towers Watson’s global HR portal business. He is based in New York City.

Today, Women in Cloud is thrilled to announce the first-ever #EmpowHERAccess Awards, a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to recognize those who have facilitated their access and ensured business stability throughout the pandemic.

Women in Cloud (WIC) partners with M12 – Microsoft’s Venture Capital Fund to award those who have created access for women in tech to support their stability and recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

#empowHERaccess is an annual digital advocacy campaign by Women in Cloud to generate greater economic access for women in technology. Launched in 2020, the campaign reached over 600K women all! This year, as part of the #empowHERaccess campaign, we at Women in Cloud invite you to join us in acknowledging and celebrating the many stories of pivot and perseverance during the global pandemic. The application ends on June 30, 2021. So start your nominations today!

Women in Cloud has created eight awards to recognize and commemorate these vital members of our community: 

  1. Digital Transformation Project of the Year Award: This award celebrates excellence in digital transformation through the cloud and AI technologies. This award is sponsored by Microsoft Corporation. 
  2. Cloud Solution of the Year Award: This award sponsored by Insight, celebrates the cloud solution that most successfully innovates through the use of cutting-edge cloud and AI technologies as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  3. Supplier of the Year Award: This award celebrates companies who have managed to be accessible to female entrepreneurs during the recent epidemic and have increased their supplier ecosystem to accommodate their diverse needs.  
  4. Advisor of the Year Award: This award celebrates the advisors and mentors who have continued to support women entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic by unlocking their rolodex, volunteering their time, and sharing their knowledge. 
  5. Investor of the Year Award: This award celebrates investors who continued to provide economic access to women entrepreneurs during the pandemic by investing $1M+ into women-owned or led technology businesses. 
  6. Innovative Partnership of the Year Award: Sponsored by Accenture, this award celebrates companies that have partnered with women technology entrepreneurs to co-sell their solutions into the enterprise ecosystem. 
  7. Cloud Technology Deal of the Year Award: Our Cloud Technology Deal of the Year will be notable for creating new partnerships, coalescing resources, or injecting funds into innovative cloud businesses. This award is sponsored by Meylah Corporation. 
  8. Women in Technology Outstanding Leadership Award: The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the cloud industry by an individual. Our Outstanding Leader will be an industry leader whose creativity, passion, and innovation are driving the space forward—someone who embodies cloud excellence. M12 – Microsoft’s Venture Fund sponsored this award. 

We welcome you to nominate organizations, suppliers, advisors, investors, and women technology leaders and help us recognize powerful force contributing to your success in the technology industry. Those chosen will be honored at an Award Ceremony on July 16th during the WiCxInspire event. 
Important:

1. Organizations and initiatives can nominate themselves!

2. Nominations are open until 30-Jun-21Learn more!

3. This year’s award ceremony will be on July16th, 2021 during the WiCxInspire Event

For information on the #EmpowHERAccess Inaugural Awards, click here

The countdown begins! 

Recently, I was reminded of the book ‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (1993)’ by the American author and Relationship Coach, John Gray. While facilitating an alliance workshop between two high-tech partners, I was reminded of a suggestion the book makes; there are incompatible differences between the way that men and women act in any given situation, and that conflict arises from these different viewpoints. One partner was a global systems integrator and consultancy; the other was an equally large (and global) software company. The workshop was to discuss the current state of the global alliance relationship that they had formed many years ago and reset the vision for the alliance.

Despite the number of senior key stakeholders at the workshop from both parties representing: product lines, consulting practices, sales, marketing, R&D, and corporate planning, the two global managers leading the discussion caught my attention. Experienced Vice Presidents in their respective companies, both responsible for managing global relations, the only obvious difference was their gender. For the purpose of this article let me call them Sally and Simon.

During the course of the workshop, we addressed the question of ‘Joint Business Value Propositions’, and I asked the question: “What is the Joint Business Value Proposition for this alliance? What is different and exciting to the customers about using the combination of both of your company’s products and services?”

Simon immediately jumped right in: “Well, it’s obvious right? Between us we control a large degree of market share in our chosen fields, we are both acknowledged leaders in our respective products and services, what I need is to agree on a target figure with Sally about how many of our software licenses her company will sell this year.”

Sally replied: “What are we trying to achieve with our offerings here? Between us, we need to understand better how we come across to the market and I’d like to know more about Simon’s business strategy and how my team can help him.”

Simon: “Great! That’s just what I said… now let me tell you in detail about my sales targets territory by territory around the world and we can then agree on what numbers you will allocate …!”

And before I could stop him he jumped up to the whiteboard and started doing just that!

The incident put me in mind of the Mars versus Venus debate sparked all those years ago.

If one is to consciously observe and compare the language that Simon is using, which is, ‘me, I, my targets, my objectives, my territories’ to Sally’s conversation which is, ‘us, we, our team, our common goals’, it wouldn’t be hard to differentiate between the leaders. One might say this is negligible and unimportant, however, I believe it is indicative of a deeper mindset. 

Whilst flying home I ruminated on our conversations in the workshop, I confess I couldn’t decide whether the fundamental difference highlighted by the two professionals was the difference between men and women or the difference between sales executives and alliance executives.

In traditional sales, the business landscape is quite clear. I am a seller and you are a buyer; my job is to convince you of the suitability of my products and services to your challenges and needs and I will use appropriate and suitable tools and methodologies to help me do that (e.g. Challenger Sales, Consultative Selling, SPIN Selling, Relationship Selling, Closing Techniques, and on and on). The language involved in the conversation is focused on the seller. It’s a binary type conversation. I win, you ‘lose’ (because you pay out the highest price I can negotiate).

In alliance selling on the other hand it’s a little more subtle. Sally isn’t trying to sell to Simon, she’s trying to understand how they can both together sell to an (as yet) unknown customer, and do it in the most efficient and effective way possible.

The conversation is peppered with words like Us, Our, Joint, Collaborative, Together, Consensus, Joined-Up Approach, and so on.  During my flight I thought about two different scenarios:

  • The different background, mores, and language used to typically describe men and women and,
  • The different background, mores, and language used to typically describe salespeople and alliance people

In both cases, I daydreamed about the words that I had heard used in the past to describe the two groups and I wondered if there was some kind of connection.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you can’t have good male alliance managers and I’m not saying that you can’t have aggressive and hard-driving female executives, but the more I thought about my own experiences with all four groups (men, women, sales, and alliances) the more I resonated with the differences and the apparent connection between the two groups.

Could it be that women are more genetically ‘programmed’ over many thousands of years to view harmony and collaboration in the family unit as preferable to personal advancement?

The jolt that I got as I hit the runway in Birmingham (my hometown) jerked me awake and afterward I couldn’t decide whether it was clear thinking and deep insight or pure gibberish?!

What do you think?  I’d love to hear from you!

If you’d like more information or would like to contribute to this research, feel free to contact me at mike.nevin@alliancebestpractice.com

About Mike Nevin
Mike Nevin is a highly experienced international strategic alliance consultant, coach, and author. Mike was the founding Chairman of ASAP in Europe (ASAP is the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals) which he launched in March 2002. and his seminal work (The Strategic Alliance Handbook) is recommended reading on MBA courses throughout the world.
https://www.amazon.com/Strategic-Alliance-Handbook-Business-Business/dp/0566087790

We are so excited to announce the launch of #empowHERaccess campaign this month.

#empowHERaccess is an annual digital advocacy campaign by Women in Cloud to generate greater economic access for women in technology. The inaugural 2020 campaign focused on the disruptions women in technology founders were facing, and anticipating, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, while WIC’s 2020 programming aimed to offer the access and opportunities women technology professionals need for recovery and continued success.

The 2021 #empowHERaccess campaign will bring together a number of facets to better understand the Global Crisis the pandemic has created for women entrepreneurs, and celebrate the many stories of pivots and perseverance.

As we were shaping the narrative, the community and Fortune companies wanted us to provide solutions to involve women tech founders as part of the digital transformation roadmap. Based on the feedback, I brainstormed the Forbes article to highlight tangible practices that can be implemented now to double the supplier diversity to create billions of dollars in economic impact using the collective power of Fortune 1000 companies.

So, What can Fortune 1000 companies do?

Systematic change requires collective action by organizations large enough to influence and maintain change. Some groundbreaking ideas to doubling the supplier diversity in Fortune 1000 companies for digital transformation could be:

  1. Strategic digital transformation planning with diverse suppliers. Digital transformation is shifting the competitive landscape for many organizations. As you seek to partner with new partners, it is important to look for diverse suppliers who are willing to work with you on the journey while you extend your talent workforce.
  2. Policy Refinement. Research conducted by the Harvard Business Review claims that 52% of women in STEM careers will eventually leave because of hostile work environments where the company culture is not accommodating of women. The gap in the pipeline can be addressed by establishing policies within Fortune 1000 companies changing the landscape, forever allowing women to lead and develop solutions for the future and bring them into supplier ecosystems.
  3. Underwrite certifications. To accelerate the rise of women-led supply chains, Fortune 1000 needs to take on the onus of underwriting certifications to reduce the burden on diverse technology suppliers trying to build and raise their business. Supplier certifications are a huge investment that largely contributes to small businesses with a lack of funds being unable to deliver to their full capability.
  4. Focused networking with buyers. It is a no-brainer that networking is an essential element for business growth; however, facilitating focused networking sessions will help explore unique and creative solutions developed in a diverse environment.
  5. Solution Showcase. Sixty percent of digital sales are carried out through online marketplaces already, and the number of new marketplaces is growing rapidly to create visibility of potential solutions. Access solutions from Women In Cloud solution marketplace that helps buyers access enterprise-ready solutions developed by women founders for Fortune 1000 companies to incorporate in their supplier network. 

The solution is quite simple to pinpoint, if we double down on investments and engagements with female founders, the world’s largest organizations could succeed in abolishing the gender gap in tech entrepreneurship while accelerating economic recovery. 

At Women in Cloud we are committed to developing solutions and generating resources that are dedicated to enabling Fortune brands and enterprise companies to create an economic impact; 

1. WiCxFortune100 Initiative: A turn-key equity advancing solutions for Fortune 100 companies to come together and collectively solve gender-equity challenges through representation, recruitment and relationship building.

2. WiC Solution Marketplace: A one-stop-shop for technology solutions and services for the mid-to-enterprise market, created, owned, and operated by women entrepreneurs.

3. Fortune 100 Lunch and Learn Series: A high-level networking experience designed to open the doors for leading fortune companies and brands to connect with technology business builders. 

I invite you and your brand to get engaged with us to unlock economic access while making the supplier programs diverse and inclusive in the ecosystem.

Website: https://womenincloud.com 

Calling all female tech founders to take 2021 Edition of Covid19 Impact Survey to help us identify and build economic relief and recovery solutions

Women in Cloud (WIC) has partnered with M12 – Microsoft’s Venture Capital Fund to launch #empowHERaccess is an annual digital advocacy campaign by Women in Cloud to generate greater economic access for women in technology. 

Campaign pillars include the following:

Last year WIC released the inaugural COVID-19 Impact Report, focused on the disruptions women in technology entrepreneurs & founders were facing, and anticipating, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report predicted that, through 2020, COVID-19 would become a major obstacle for women in tech. Leveraging the 2020 insights from the research, WIC delivered targeted programming aimed to increase economic access for tech entrepreneurs founders and to build their business skills.  

Complete the #EmpowHERaccess COVID-19 Impact Survey

A year later, we are only beginning to truly understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on women in tech. Leveraging the 2020 insights from the research, Women in Cloud delivered targeted programming aimed to create access to business development opportunities for tech entrepreneurs & founders to get economic relief and recovery for continued success.   

Calling all Female Tech Founders and Entrepreneurs!

We would like to hear from you. Tell us how the pandemic has affected your business, and how we can help you, by completing our survey by June 30, 2021.

We are inviting you to represent your business, your voice, and the impact of the pandemic to produce the insights needed to develop valuable programming and solutions to relieve your business. 

Learn more: https://www.womenincloud.com/empowheraccess-campaign/

#empowHERaccess