Digital workplace change requires the personal touch

When Fidelity Life embarked on a major programme of digital transformation, it involved more change than the organisation had seen in decades.

In this Q&A, Fidelity Life’s Chief Technology Officer, Dan Wilkinson, reflects on the changes the company has gone through to enable a better digital workplace experience for its more than 300 staff.

  1. What have been some of the big challenges you’ve faced in adopting technologies required for the organisation to have an effective digital workplace?

I’ve never really experienced a situation where we had to make such a tightly-coupled series of technology-related decisions with a big picture strategic goal in mind.

It wasn’t just the addition of new technology or new apps. To deliver the modern workplace effectively, we had to reinvent our way of delivering technology from the bare metal to the desktop, literally the desks themselves! A lot of things had to happen in concert to make that happen which was challenging.

Also, to create a quality experience, we had to really understand what it is we want people to feel like when they come to work here. How do we create a digital environment for them that meets their needs and also feels like the business we aspire to become?

We are still fine-tuning what we’ve come up with. Credit goes to the team and the partners we work with for not taking any shortcuts along the way.

  1. How are you aligning digital workplace investments with the strategic goals of the organisation?

Back in 2018, when our people sat down at their keyboards, they didn’t necessarily have a quality experience. The average login time for our computers was 7 – 10 minutes. Getting such a basic thing so wrong meant that whatever came out of my mouth in terms of digital transformation talk was just nonsense.

Making our customers’ lives better is a common strategic goal. But it’s our people that fundamentally deliver that customer experience. If they don’t believe it, because it is hard for them to do their work, then you will have an uphill battle ahead of you.

They are now part of an organisation that does place a quality experience above many other things and which has more technological competence.

It was imperative that if we wanted to improve the experience for our people, we had to invest in our underlying network so that it would perform and be resilient. With the work we have done with Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, and Citrix and enabling remote work, it now feels like a contemporary organisation that has some solid foundations for its aspirations.

How did Deptive help Fidelity Life radically improve the performance of its Citrix platform? Read our case study to find out

  1. What benefits are you already seeing as a result of embarking on that journey to become a more digitally mature workplace?

The greater flexibility in people’s working style based on what we’ve enabled, means we can now take a new approach to our physical premises that is super efficient. In September we will move to a new building on Fanshawe Street in central Auckland. It has 175 workstations and we are a 300+ person business.

We’ve been able to use technology to unlock people from their desks. It’s very cost-effective, but more importantly it lets us enable activity-based working, where our people choose their work setting based on what they need to do. It is more collaborative and people feel more enabled. You can probably put a financial value on that, but the cultural benefits are so much more powerful.

  1. What’s your approach to change management when it comes to introducing new technologies and ways of working into your organisation?

We approach change with a great deal of care. Technology people are hungry for change, we love new stuff. But not everyone thinks like that. If you put a new icon on the desktop and don’t explain what it’s for, you will get confusion and pushback. It’s only natural.

When we were rolling out our upgraded Citrix, my platform manager, who is an extremely patient person, went around to every pod and spoke to every person about the change. He would sit for hours talking people through what to expect. It took weeks, it is a laborious thing to do. But that’s the level of care a technology team should show, particularly when a business has experienced very little real technology change in decades.

  1. How are you measuring your progress? What are the key indicators (eg: productivity, employee experience) you monitor to gauge how you are tracking?

One of the things I look at day to day, is the volume of service desk queries. A service desk ticket is a signal that someone has hit a block of some kind and can’t do their job effectively. When you see an average person to ticket ratio of 4, that’s not good. Thankfully that has been declining and is stable for quite some time now.

We do track adoption and usage rates, such as how many attachments are shared via email versus people sharing from OneDrive or SharePoint. But the other really useful measure of progress is purely anecdotal. We have a very transparent business that isn’t hierarchical. If people have a problem they will tell you about it.

  1. How has your security model changed as your digital workplace has evolved?

It’s actually changed quite radically. We’ve adopted a more layered, multifaceted and mature security posture. Historically, it was all about what we did at the perimeter. We have brought new technology into the mix. But it’s our people and the culture and awareness around security that we’ve made our big focus.

Everything can be undone by one person clicking on a link or just writing their password down. We do a lot of training around identifying phishing attacks as well as physical security around devices. We work with a lot of sensitive data so we work hard to promote the awareness of the responsibility we all have to keep that safe. It’s great to bring your iPad to work for example, but if you leave it open in a cafe and someone is looking over your shoulder, you could have a Privacy Act breach.

Our aim is to present a security posture that enables a lot of flexibility, but still has fairly hard limits to it. For instance, people can’t print out work documents at home. That’s been difficult for some people who are used to working with paper, but we’ve taken quite a hard line on that and most people understand the reasons why.

It is in our customers’ best interests that all of the stuff that we take care of on their behalf stays within our environment.

Deptive is here to assist you on your digital workplace journey. Find out more on our Modern Workplace page or Contact us today to find out about our services, which are designed to help your organisation make the best use of technology to enable a successful digital workplace.

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