Many organizations are either well underway or at least beginning the steps toward digital transformation, fundamentally rethinking the way businesses operate thanks to the proliferation of technology in our everyday lives. Digital transformation is the necessary response to the increase in consumer/customer demands and expectations regarding their service experiences. It is critical that service providers are equipped with the tools and resources they need in order to adequately address customer needs when, where and how they are requested. (For more on digital transformation, see Improving Customer Experience With Digital Transformation, Big Data and Analytics.)

For CIOs in particular, there’s a significant opportunity to kick-start their journey toward digital transformation in familiar territory – the service desk. If we think about the broader digital transformation that CIOs are going through, it boils down to focusing on business processes and increasing productivity to generate greater business value out of IT. How can this mindset be applied through the service desk?

Consumerization Means Old Models for Providing Employee Service Won’t Cut It

Historically, and still today for many organizations, service providers rely on outdated and inefficient methods for handling increasing customer demands, both internally and externally. Anything that causes friction in a person’s workday is going to result in dissatisfaction. Whether they’re experiencing a support issue or in need of a resource, the time an employee spends tracking down resolutions means their flow is interrupted. At Service Management World 2018, Forrester analyst Charles Betz discussed recent research that shows employees – more than any other workplace perk – are most satisfied when they are able to get things done.

Fostering a work environment where employees are able to achieve flow in their workday can result in upwards of 127 percent more productivity, according to Betz. If an employee is on hold for phone support, or spending chunks of time throughout the day going back and forth via email to get an incident resolved, that’s going to have a noticeable impact on their productivity.

Digital Transformation Must Extend to Internal Customers to Drive Employee Service Success

As consumerization, meaning the impact that consumer-based technology and experiences have within organizations, continues, CIOs must evolve their technological landscapes in order to meet growing employee expectations for service delivery. Of course, there are inherent challenges to implementing new technologies on the enterprise level. It can be incredibly expensive in the short term, and to adopt those technologies across an entire organization can be resource and time intensive. People also have a natural inclination to resist change if the benefits and rationale are not clearly communicated. (To learn about customer service, see Top 6 Trends in Customer Relationship Management (CRM).)

Those challenges notwithstanding, CIOs are already considering adopting new technologies for external customers. When a consumer is connecting with a company for support, they’re likely to encounter a myriad of options at their disposal, including chatbots and AI, using the power of prediction to quickly assess the issue and recommended resolution.

The next step for CIOs is to turn that consumer experience lens inward to identify opportunities for modern engagement models with employees and internal customers. If your organization is investing in chat, for example, to service external customers, consider the benefits that provides and how those same benefits could be applied to your internal service delivery strategy and your overall business objectives.

Proactive vs. Reactive Employee Engagement

Digital transformation provides CIOs with a clear opportunity to address the role of technology for both external customer engagement and service and the influence it has on technology in terms of how organizations provide services to external customers. It can be easy for CIOs to maintain status quo for internal customers in the interim. Balancing a shift in technology for both internal and external customers is a significant undertaking.

This tends to lend toward a more reactive approach from CIOs when it comes to how organizations reshape their internal processes and technology landscapes. The approach becomes more of “don’t forget about our employees” as the process of digital transformation unfolds.

Conversely, CIOs can take a proactive approach to engaging employees and other internal customers by starting with an employee-first mentality. When you consider the reality that employees are consumers, too, you can better equip your organization to handle the increased expectations that come with consumerization. CIOs must adopt and adapt technologies in such a way that the focus is on the needs of employees (and customers), not the other way around. Whether your organization is implementing chatbots and the power of prediction through AI, the key is to prioritize how technology not only facilitates a more seamless employee experience but also how it can drive toward broader business objectives. The role of the CIO evolves from that of simply a technology enabler to that of being a strategic service provider.

Whether proactive or reactive, implementing new technologies and encouraging adoption of these technologies requires structured, often automated processes throughout the entire workflow and across the organization. Most importantly, though, it requires a focus on meeting the needs and expectations of employees, regardless of what service they seek, by providing them with the tools and resources to get their work done efficiently.