With World Telecommunications and Information Society Day placing the focus on ICT, Gys Kappers, CEO of Wyzetalk, examines how ICT in the connected age has become less about technology and more about creating an engaged workforce and collaborative environment driving greater productivity.
“ICT has long been the cornerstone for innovation. However, it is only recently that developing countries across Africa have been in a position to leverage this. Thanks to advances in mobility, infrastructure, and the cost of access, we no longer need to be excluded from being a driving force in solutions that meet multiple needs across industry sectors,” says Kappers.
He says that by changing the way we work and how we connect to people; ICT has evolved to be more about establishing an enabling environment for collaboration, networking, and knowledge sharing. With engagement being valued above all else, the nature of communication is changing as is how technology can drive this.
“Mobile communication and the use of personal devices in the workplace have led to a more fluid business environment that bridges the gap between knowledge creation and implementation. By and large, ideas are able to flow more smoothly inside the organisation thanks to information workers who are not constrained by traditional boundaries,” adds Kappers.
But it is not yet the panacea it can be. Many companies are still hesitant to change how they work and how to implement advances in ICT into existing processes and systems.
Kappers continues: “In certain respects, this hesitance is to be expected. After the Dot Com Bubble burst in the late 90s, there are two camps the one that has invested heavily in technology and hasn’t felt the investment benefit while other companies are still averse to investing too heavily in solutions that encompass everything from Big Data and Cloud to engagement, mobile collaboration and social business. Yet, the modern organisation is one that goes beyond technology for its own sake and looks to its own people at every level to boost business.”
Decision-makers need to iterate faster and respond quicker to competitive forces. Communication and collaboration tools have shown demonstrable results in helping organisations retain knowledge, drum up corporate spirit, get new employees up to speed faster, enable collaboration on business-purpose projects, foster innovation and improve customer service by creating highly engaged communities. But these virtues have not reached workers, given the reliance of tools on high-end devices.
Kappers says large enterprises with big workforces have a real need for connecting with these workers, especially in environments such as mining, retail, logistics and manufacturing. Typically, leaders in these environments are challenged by a multi-cultural labour force with low literacy levels which introduces other barriers to communicating using traditional channels – although the noticeboard and distributed letters are still widely used. These businesses often suffer interruptions which incur massive costs and as a result, they desperately need a better way to connect directly with their staff.
“The collective success of an engaged workforce, trusting employee-employer relationship to explore better ways of working and increased productivity cannot be denied. And it will be the ones who understand the power of communication and how it is not always about reinventing the wheel but looking inwards for innovation that will likely succeed. Companies can no longer afford to throw money at research and development or make acquisitions to change with the times. Instead, they must scrutinise what is already available and how best that can be used – across all platforms – for competitive growth and mobile is just this tool to mobilise the workforce,” concludes Kappers.