Building trust key to best use of workplace data

04 February 2019

Employees are more concerned with being monitored at work than ever, with a host of new digital technologies making it easier than ever before to gather their data and analyse their workplace behaviours. According to a new report, however, if companies use workplace data to improve the working lives of staff, rather than berate them, productivity could boom.

Leveraging workplace data to decoding organisational DNA can yield a host of positive business benefits. At the same time, there is a major difference in growth rates for companies depending on how they do this. If they keep employees on-board, and gear data towards improving life for them, rather than to harry and heckle them, a company can enjoy as much as a  12.5% advantage over those who lose trust. Globally, this could make a $3.1 trillion economic difference.

According to a new study from Accenture, 62% of businesses are using new technologies and sources of workforce data extensively. However, this trend is increasingly unnerving workers across the world, who fear that the collection of their data is being used to crack down on behaviours not deemed profitable or productive, but may well be essential to surviving the average working day. In the UK, for example, a TUC study found that 56% of UK workers believe they are monitored by their boss at work, with surveillance data being used to set unfair targets and "take away autonomy."

The risks go both ways

The research found the forms of surveillance that are least acceptable to workers were facial recognition software and mood monitoring at 76% against, monitoring social media accounts outside work (69%), recording a worker's location on portable devices (67%) and monitoring of keyboard strokes (57%). With reports of using data to police activities such as toilet breaks continuing to dog large companies such as Amazon and Aviva outsourcer Teleperformance, fears of how future surveillance may look for UK employees were further provoked by the news Sky News staff will now be subject to a Panopticon of online observation, as the activities of staff in the company’s newsroom will soon be broadcast live, non-stop, on an internet television service.

As the pushback against such employment practices continues to pile pressure on companies which are supposedly vying for recruits amid a so-called talent shortage, the reputational damage alone is enough to put some firms off pursuing workplace data gathering further. Only 30% of business leaders are very confident that their organisation is using the data in a highly responsible way, suggesting many would hold off on their efforts for fear of the damage it could do. 

At the same time, despite the perceived risk, as the rewards of workforce data can be so high, some companies are even willing to tap into it at the risk of irresponsible behaviour. 49% of business leaders say that, in the absence of sufficient legislation to guide them, they would still press ahead with using new technologies to collect workforce data without taking additional measures for responsibility.

The Data Trust Dividend: The Impact of Workforce Trust on Financial Performance

While employees have concerns, however, they are overwhelmingly in favour of the practice, if the data is collected responsibly and benefits them. Accenture found that 92% of employees are open to the collection of data on them and their work in exchange for an improvement in their productivity, their wellbeing or other benefits. Ultimately, then, it all boils down to how the information is collected, and what it is used for, that can make all the difference for the use of workforce data.

If companies build trust in the workforce, Accenture believes they will create value for both individuals and the business as a whole. At the same time, damaging trust by recklessly reaping data from staff for use they are not consulted on can damage productivity – the opposite of what bosses who will use these tactics are actually hoping for – with a global value of $6.1 billion potentially forfeited by companies failing to heed Accenture’s warning. For those who do adopt responsible strategies, at the same time, the trust dividend could be worth more than a 6% increase in future revenue growth.

Eva Sag-Gavin, Senior Managing Director of Accenture's Talent & Organisation Practice, said of the findings, “Organisations are concerned by ethical challenges… We recommend three areas of action. First, give your people more control of their own data to build trust. Second, revolutionise governance, by replacing top-down approaches with genuinely shared responsibility. And finally, if companies can use workforce data to improve the lives of their people, they can use it to boost creativity, productivity and long-term business results. This is not just about mitigating risk, it’s about elevating employee trust to levels we’ve never previously seen before.”

Related: How organisations can manage stress in the workplace.



Four ways digitalisation is transforming car brands and dealers

16 April 2019

From changing expectations from the customer to new stakeholders entering the industry, the digital transformation of global automotive industry means it is facing the wholesale transformation of its business model. In a new white paper, global consulting partnership Cordence Worldwide has highlighted four major digital trends that are transforming the relationships between car brands and dealers with consumers.

With digital transformation drives booming across the industrial spectrum, automotive groups are no different in having commenced large digital transformation programmes to improve productivity, efficiency, and ultimately profitability. Falling sales figures mean the automotive sector is facing an increasingly difficult road ahead, something which means companies in the market are even more hard pressed to find new ways to improve their bottom lines.

While it offers major opportunities, the industry’s move to digitalise is not without complications. It has triggered a series of major internal changes, which have presented automotive entities with the challenge of becoming a “customer-oriented” industry. A new report from Cordence Worldwide – a global management consulting partnership present in more than 20 countries – has explored how automotive companies are navigating the rapidly changing nature of digital business.

New business models

The level of change likely to be wrought on the automotive industry by digitalisation is hard to overstate. Automation could well lead to significant reductions in the number of accidents, higher vehicle utilisation and lower pollution levels, while leading to a $2.1 trillion change in traditional revenues, with up to $4.3 trillion in new revenue openings arising by 2030.

As a result of this colossal opportunity, it is easy to see why almost all automotive groups now have digital departments, with generally strong communication within the digital transformation and the customer approach. The changes to society which this may have are potentially distracting automotive firms from the change it is leading to in its own companies though, according to Cordence’s paper.

The automotive market is dead, long live the mobility market

Because of this, the sector’s business model is set to transform over the coming decades. With digitalisation speeding up the appearance of concepts such as car-sharing, a subscription package model will likely become more palatable. At the same time, car and ride-sharing models will cater to the sustainability criteria of millennials, who will rapidly become one of the automotive market’s leading consumer demographics in the coming years.

Antoine Glutron – a Managing Consultant with Cordence member Oresys, and the report’s author – said of the situation, “These ‘old school industries’ are now working on creating new opportunities, but in so-doing are facing challenges and threats: new jobs, new technologies, new ecosystem of partners, necessary reorganisation, different relationship with customers, and even new businesses. The customer approach topic is in fact a real challenge for car companies as it implies changing their business model and adjusting their mind-set to address the customer 4.0: from product-centric to customer-centric, from car manufacturer to service provider.”

Digital customer experience

In the hyper-competitive age of the internet, even top companies face an uphill challenge when it comes to holding onto customers through brand loyalty. Digital disruption has resulted in changes to consumer behaviour, which is forcing a range of marketing strategists to reconsider their old, possibly out-dated strategies. As modern customers wield an increasingly impressive array of digital tools and online databases, they and are now able to quickly and conveniently compare prices, check availability and read product reviews.

The automotive sector is no exception to this trend, according to the study. In order to adapt to the needs of the so-called ‘customer 4.0’, car companies will increasingly need to change their business model and move away from product-centric companies to customer-centric ones, from car manufacturers to service providers.

Glutron explained, “As an automotive company, you can no longer expect customer loyalty simply with good products; you must conquer and re-conquer a customer that “consumes” your service. The offer now has to be global, digital and personalised. Your offer has to be adapted to this customer’s needs at any given moment. A key issue related to data control is to build customer loyalty by creating a customer experience 'tailored' throughout the cycle of use of the 'car product': purchase, driving, maintenance and trade-in of the vehicle.”

One way in which the sector may be able to benefit from this desire for a tailored experience is via connectivity. Consumers are generally positive about new connective features for automobiles, and many are even willing to pay upfront for infotainment, emergency and maintenance services. Chinese consumers, where the connected car market is set to hit $216 billion, are already particularly interested in paying a little more for navigation and diagnostic features in their future new car. This can also enable automotive companies to exploit a rich vein of customer data, enabling them to rapidly tailor their offerings to consumer behaviour.

New automotive segments

Digital transformation has also brought with it the rise of completely new application areas. As mentioned earlier, the most well-known example is the autonomous or self-driving car, where the last steps forward were not taken by major automotive groups but by technology companies such as Tesla. While this may have given such firms the edge in the market briefly, a number of keystone automotive names will soon be set to take the plunge into the market themselves, leveraging their car manufacturing prowess and huge production capacities to their advantage.

Before companies rush to invest in this market, however, it is worth their while to remember that the readiness and uptake for such vehicles differs greatly geographically. For example, following a study published in 2018, 92% of Chinese would be ready to buy an autonomous car, compared with only around 35% of drivers in France, Germany and US. Meanwhile, the infrastructure of different nations will also be significantly less accommodating of the new technology.

Use digital for steering thr activity

Elsewhere, Cordence’s analysis has suggested that hooking the cars of tomorrow into the Internet of Things is also likely to see a rapid change in the business model for car maintenance, providing real-time diagnostics for problems. This presents chances for partnerships to improve the connectivity of cars, especially with tech companies; for example, PSA partnered with IBM for a global agreement on services in their vehicle. Meanwhile, data could also be sold to other parties with an interest in this data, such as the government, which could use it to manage traffic levels, or ensure that only adequately maintained vehicles take to the road.

Glutron added, “With the increase in the amount of client data and connected opportunities, the recommendation is to set up data-centric approaches. The value is now in the customer data. The general prerequisites are to rework the data model and the Enterprise Architecture and generally build up a data lake including data from all sources (internal and external, structured and unstructured).”

From automotive to mobility

Relating further to the idea of connectivity, the report claimed that automotive firms must now adjust their models in line with the provision of end-to-end mobility, rather than treating the sale of a car as an end point in their relationship with the customer. In order to realise this transformation, transformations are likely to become more and more important.

A network of partner companies means automotive firms can provide a global mobility experience. As the vehicle is increasingly connected to its environment, new partners can also be cities, governments, and other service providers within the global mobility services industry in which the car brands want to take part.

According to the study, the target is clear. Companies must look to a holistic transport service, offering to move customers from A to B in a unique and pleasant way – otherwise they might as well take public transport. At the same time, they should extend the services reachable “on-board” (especially the enhancement of the connectivity between the car and smartphones or other connected devices), and reach high standards in terms of user experience (online sales, online payment, customised experience during and after the use of the car).

Concluding the report, Glutron stated, “These mobility market transformations could be considered a threat for the car manufacturers. Quite the opposite: if they take up the challenge and review their business model so that they become the service provider – communicating no longer to a driver but to a ‘mobility customer’ – they can then take advantage of their expertise and their position as a historical player. The most convenient means of transport are cars, and building a car is highly-skilled work.”