CIO Strategy: To Improve Employee Engagement, Buy Cupcakes

Manik Narayan Saha, Regional CIO, SAP Asia Pacific and Japan

Manik Narayan Saha, Regional CIO, SAP Asia Pacific and Japan

Research clearly shows that highly engaged employees are good for business. Employees who feel connected to their employer are more productive, generate more revenues, and help the company thrive.

But did you know that IT can contribute to this success? According to new research from IDC, companies that develop a strong relationship between IT and the lines of business can measurably increase corporate performance.

IDC compared two types of enterprises: those where IT proactively worked with the business and those that did not cultivate a close relationship. Over three years, the companies with the strong IT-business connection achieved:

• 90 percent greater growth in revenue from new product lines

• 80 percent greater growth in revenue from established product lines

• 50 percent greater improvement in compliance-related activities

On the IT team, our goal is to enable SAP to transform into a digital enterprise using the best-in-class solutions, products, and services available in the market

Introducing IT Day

These are compelling results that any CIO would be pleased to deliver. Yet creating active engagement between IT and the business can be challenging. Many employees view IT as a mere service provider—one to be consulted only when there is a problem.

How can an innovative, forward-thinking CIO demonstrate to employees that IT is more than just a support function? And how can IT help the company grow, modernize, and create market advantage?

At the SAP office in Singapore, the IT services team recently organized an IT Day to showcase our capabilities. Our goals: to educate employees on how IT delivers value to SAP and to demo the IT services that help employees work more effectively and efficiently.

Around 200 employees from multiple lines of business attended IT Day, following three tracks:

• Expert talks that focused on the areas where IT is driving user productivity, cybersecurity, and innovation

• Expert booths where employees received immediate service and experienced cool new products

• Vendor booths, which provided special product offers to employees

To sweeten the deal and attract even more on-site employees, we also offered an afternoon snack of cupcakes, tea, and coffee. Employees were also eligible to participate in prize drawings.

Enabling productivity through IT

On the IT team, our goal is to enable SAP to transform into a digital enterprise using the best-in-class solutions, products, and services available in the market. Especially in the current era, IT can have a tremendous positive impact across the entire company by enabling the right technology for the organization.

From a strategic perspective, this meant focusing on two key aspects of the enterprise:

1. Digitalization of enterprise business processes for efficiency–simplifying, automating, and massively scaling out existing business processes to meet the new demands of the digital economy. This meant upgrading our existing processes to support new business models such as volume business and subscription—and consumption-based billing. At the same time, the IT team is constantly thinking about how new technology can make a difference—for instance, using machine learning to significantly increase automation levels at our shared services organization.

2. Digitalization of personal workspaces for higher productivity: Another key goal of the IT organization is rapidly enabling the SAP workforce to be agile, efficient, and productive so that the value each employee brings to the company multiplies exponentially. Starting from a “Mobile first” strategy, to enabling efficient virtual collaboration platforms, knowledge management tools and a very friendly end user experience are key to a successful modern personal workspace. In our company, we are inclusive by nature, and that means providing the best user experience across diverse groups within the organization are key to IT’s success.

At the IT Day, employees learnt how collaboration tools can help them be more productive working in virtual teams. In the demonstration sessions, employees learnt how machine learning technology is being used to automate areas such as incoming payments.

By actively engaging with our customers, the IT services organization took steps toward increasing employees’ understanding of how we support their efficiency, productivity, and satisfaction. As the research shows, a strong IT-business partnership with engaged employees is a competitive advantage—so those cupcakes were definitely a worthwhile investment.

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