By bringing the best of the consumer world into every-day business, modern technology trends are shaping employee engagement in corporate sustainability. Peter Grant, CEO of CloudApps explains.

Gone are the days of passive employee engagement techniques, such as coffee room poster campaigns, intranet information sites and green teams. These techniques are rapidly being replaced by technology solutions that deliver information directly to every employee, making it compelling for them to remain engaged and at the same time creating real and measurable behavioural change.

  • “Why can’t business applications be as easy to use as buying a book on Amazon.com?”
  • “The AppExchange marketplace is like the eBay of Business Applications!”
  • “Chatter Social Collaboration, the Facebook for the Social Enterprise…”

These are just three examples of how technology company, salesforce.com, has maintained their market leading position, making millions of customers successful, by bringing the best innovation from the consumer world into our every day working lives. Starting back in the late-1990′s salesforce.com, challenged us to ask how, when we were at home, we could log onto the internet and make a relatively complex transaction, like purchasing a book, happen on Amazon with ease. However, when we went to work we needed weeks of training to operate even the most simple of business applications. So was born the cloud-computing revolution that has led to every conceivable application being made available as simple, easy-to-use, low-cost, cloud-based services.

SuMo Home

Not content with revolutionising the delivery of business applications, it moved on to disrupt how we purchase & install these applications, creating an online marketplace mirroring eBay, allowing customers to try, buy and install at the click of a button. Most recently it has challenged our thinking about the use of social networking to aid collaboration in the enterprise. Facebook at work, who would have thought it?

Why are these consumer trends shaping our business applications? Lets just take a look at a few facts. The number of Facebook users surpassed the number of email users more than three years ago. Interestingly, by 2015, Atos Origin has decided it will switch off email entirely, viewing it as a legacy technology that is no longer an enabler, but in fact an inhibitor to collaboration in the workplace.

We are living in the “post PC” era. Desktop sales are dwarfed by sales of mobile devices of which tablets now represent a growing proportion; in fact Wall Street says Apple will sell 60 million tablet devices in 2012 alone. Mobile devices have increased in their capabilities; including the ability to capture media that drives even faster ways to share information. The world has truly gone mobile and social. In todays world even traditional news services struggle to keep up with events as they unfold first on social media channels.

These collaboration and mobility trends are easy to understand in terms of their potential benefit to business applications. However, we are now seeing a third trend in “gamification”, a dreadful buzzword for a phenomenon that has relied heavily on the mobility and collaboration revolution. Just ask Zynga - they went from $0 to a $1bn company in no time. How? By allowing people to take part in a virtual world, to take on challenges, to collaborate with others to achieve results that they could not achieve alone. People of all ages connecting together to work together to solve challenges in a virtual world is something that we all clearly enjoy — in fact, we enjoy it so much that last year we collectively played some 3,000 billion hours of games. “Gamification” is the term used to describe the art of bringing the same dynamics of collaborative problem solving into business applications.

The convergence of these three technology trends; social networking, game mechanics and mobility is now supercharging sustainability in the workplace. For the first time employees can become individually connected with corporate sustainability goals; they can participate in “sustainability challenges” and collaborate with others across the enterprise in real-time; they can share best practice and pro-actively contribute their thoughts and ideas – allowing employees to be the agents of change in every organisation, connecting together to build on small achievements that rapidly add-up; powering the achievement of corporate targets to reduce energy & water consumption, reduce reliance on business travel and reduce waste – achievements that also reduce operational cost, increase corporate brand value and generate a shared value culture that creates happy and motivated employees.

For example, an organisation with 8,000 employees and an annual travel expense cost of £15M found that by using CloudApps SuMo – an employee engagement technology that embodies these trends, they were able to drive the following results.

  • 9% (£1.35M) reduction in overall annual travel expense costs
  • 27,000 hour efficiency gain achieved by finding alternatives to business travel
  • 10% reduction in annual carbon footprint

During the same period, a control group of employees who were not using CloudApps SuMo saw their travel footprint and costs actually increase by 2.1%

The employees that were using SuMo challenged their behavioural norms, generating:

  • 25% reduction in taxi use
  • 15% reduction in mileage claims
  • 6% reduction in flights

Playing games looks like a win for all…

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