As our world is increasingly connected, people are engaging in ways that we could not have even imagined just a few decades ago. Who would have thought that a pre-teen singing phenom would be discovered via videos he posted on YouTube? Or that a health foundation would report over $100 million in donations from an ice-bucket challenge? Or that a matchmaking app coupled with GPS would produce 15 million matches per day?
The more people live their lives in this online world, the more they expect (and demand!) the ability to engage exactly the way they want – when, where and how they want. So why would these demands stop when they come to work every day?
Companies must engage their constituents in more meaningful, yet simple and social, ways. I predict that 2015 will be the year when we see an increasing number of companies embrace the new realities of today’s workforce, and implement practices essential to success:
1. IT will integrate platforms that embrace employees’ different workstyles:
People now expect that the technology they use in the workplace be inviting, engaging and similar to the sites and apps they use in their personal lives. In 2015, more IT departments will recognize this demand and respond by better integrating the various technologies employees use to break down silos that hamper productivity and allow data to flow freely across platforms. The results? A smarter, more connected workforce, fewer headaches for IT and ultimately faster business execution.
2. Customer communities will be a business imperative
To be successful in our digitally connected world, companies must create compelling experiences that encourage meaningful conversations and facilitate deeper engagement with customers – or they will simply be left behind. In 2015, customer communities will be a “must have” to help brands expand their reach, driving new and repeat business while building brand loyalty. The best part? Engaged customers represent a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth.
Similarly, organizations that use the technology for external collaboration will look to bring those rich conversations into their enterprises for better decision making. This connectedness bridges the flow of information between internal and external audiences, and creates attractive value-adds for businesses, such as increased mindshare and employee retention, as well as a more streamlined customer experience. In fact, a recent study by Gallup revealed that companies which successfully engage both their customers and employees experience a 240% boost in performance-related business outcomes.
3. Companies will put a spotlight on company engagement
We know that high employee engagement can drive a sharp increase in employee morale and talent retention. But did you know that employee engagement also has major economic impacts? Gallup estimates that lack of employee engagement costs the U.S. economy $450 billion to $550 billion per year. With disengaged employees outnumbering engaged employees nearly 2 to 1 and the war for talent becoming fiercer than ever, companies must make a more concerted effort to build employee engagement into their corporate strategy. In particular, I expect gamification to gain popularity within HR in particular as a way to digitally support employee engagement and retention via rewards, recognition and customized employee and team missions. In the past, enterprise gamification has been leveraged mostly to reinforce the use of tools by tapping into humans’ competitive nature. In 2015, organizations will leverage gamification to incentivize collaborative employee behavior that drives real business results.
I see evidence every day of how modern communication and collaboration solutions help employees, partners and customers work better together. I’d love to hear your reaction to these predictions or your thoughts on this post in the comments below.