Box CIO: 3 ways to boost productivity across the business

May 6, 2020

Originally published on The Enterprisers Project.

CIOs have big chances to improve productivity, for example, via interoperable tools and data-driven decision making. You could even become the talent retention secret weapon.

The CIO role is constantly evolving and requires ongoing reinvention to stay relevant. As today’s businesses become increasingly dependent on IT, CIOs and their teams can lead the way in improving many areas of business operations. One of the most important – and most overlooked – of these areas is workplace productivity.

[ What’s next for the CIO role? Read CIO role: Everything you need to know about today’s Chief Information Officers. ]

As a CIO, your job is to lead your team in identifying workplace inefficiencies where software can help ease workloads, optimize procedures, and empower employees to be their most productive.

Consider the following three strategies.

1. Create interoperability

These days, there are more productivity tools available than ever. Focus on ways to use these tools to help free up employee time, enable collaboration, and address the challenges of remote work. For maximum productivity, employees should be able to easily communicate and collaborate with others inside and outside the company, share files securely, and access critical services.

[ During challenging times, lead with humility and humanity. Read Servpro CIO: Strengthen 5 leadership traits during this crisis. ]

To do this, look for new ways to create interoperability across services. Interoperability means removing cross-functional friction and reducing inefficiencies to enable smoother workflows and optimize processes.

What does this mean in practice? The guiding principle should be to establish a platform that enables a modern interoperable reference architecture and integrates with other tools and services used by your organization’s employees. This will allow them to capitalize on constant innovation without disrupting the desired user experience. One team might use a Slack/Google Calendar integration to collaborate and plan a project, for example, while another team uses Slack and Trello.

Building a modern reference architecture that enables interoperability empowers employees by offering agility and a variety of workflow options to suit varying business needs.

2. Make data-driven decisions

Rolling out productivity tools and native integrations is only the first step. It’s essential to stay acutely focused on how adoption and use of these tools can increase productivity. If a team is not leveraging its full value using a partner integration, the tool might not be a good fit. It might also indicate further education around the tool is required. In the world of SaaS software, churn is easier and faster than ever, with purchases averaging a 1- to 3-year renewal cycle.

Data is also key here. Software tools include usage analytics that offers quantitative information on employee behavior and sophistication. Your team can use this data to evaluate whether employees are achieving the target outcome of any given tool. The telemetry data can also be supplemented by network usage and cloud usage tools to achieve a deep and granular view into potential optimizations.

Monitoring such data patterns can also lead to unexpected productivity gains. At Box, for example, we discovered that we were spending an inordinate amount of time unlocking employee’s Active Directory accounts after three failed login attempts. Implementing a new two-factor authentication system eliminated thousands of tickets from the IT workload, saving time and costs. Most businesses likely also have hidden productivity drains just waiting to be discovered at all levels, and detailed usage data can help your team find those areas.

3. Think outside the software

It’s not just about software. Today’s businesses must be fully leveraged to achieve greater productivity. Work with workplace services, human resources, and other teams to explore how technology is used in traditional, remote and shared co-working offices as well as other environments. Work has historically been a place; today it’s more a state of mind.

For example, most of us who have worked in a physical office have struggled at some point to find and book a conference room. Now there are tools that enable employees to book conference rooms seamlessly using only their voice. Tablets using beacon technology that displays real-time availability and check-in systems can be installed outside conference rooms to ensure that unused rooms automatically become available. These tools can be integrated with calendar software such as GCal and Office 365, enabling employees to easily meet face-to-face or via video platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts.

The new challenge of the ‘20s: Talent retention

Providing employees with productivity tools brings another significant advantage: Talent retention. A recent study indicates that over half of employees working for organizations that don’t offer the freedom of choice and digital experiences they enjoy as consumers are likely to seek a new job within three to nine months.

These days, the CIO role comprises many responsibilities, from fostering innovation and ensuring security to managing compliance and providing a great user experience. Increasing productivity adds another worthy challenge. Focusing on productivity – and establishing a culture that supports it – not only impacts the bottom line but can help your organization attract and retain the talent it needs to succeed.

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