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Budgeting the digital tightrope

Research has found that employees can potentially lose up to 42 days a year thanks to outdated technology. But digital tools have the potential to transform the relationship between the employee and the business, says MANDLA MBONAMBI, founding CEO of Africonology, technology.

Pause for a second on that maths. It’s the same as giving the entire company six weeks off for the July holidays. Now, imagine what could be achieved if the organisation’s technology investment didn’t impact on performance? It’s a giddy nirvana of productivity and extraordinary client and employee experiences. It also isn’t realistic.

There is a fine line between the business budget and the technology it can realistically afford.

How can the business invest in the right technology without overstepping its budget? Purchasing decisions need to be influenced by strategy, market value, and long-term sustainability. They also need to be transparent and relevant.

The technology the business chooses to invest in from the outset has to support its strategy in delivering services and enabling them to remain competitive. Today, the organisation is under enormous pressure to retain its market worth, much less increase it, and any technology investment needs to be weighed against these budgetary imperatives.

For the business that’s already halfway across the tightrope with an economy on its back and complex market conditions scampering along the wire, the added complexities of budget versus employee are difficult to manage. The business must invest in the productivity and happiness of its employees without risking long-term business success.

Technology purchasing decisions are influenced by a variety of factors. On one hand, new product development and new solutions that are being developed need to be prioritised. On the other hand, the way in which the business plans to increase its efficiency in delivering these products and services is equally important.

Providing the employees with the right technology extends far beyond just quick access to an operating system. It ties directly into the organisation’s need to service clients and deliver products seamlessly. Without the right tools, clients won’t have the kind of experience that will elevate the business above the clutter.

It is extremely challenging to keep everyone happy. Organisations have to remain in control of their technology decisions while ensuring their employees are happy and their tools are relevant. It is one of the biggest elephants in the room.

What’s the best way to deal with an elephant? Training. Change management workshops and training can play a significant role in rallying employees to the organisation’s cause. Providing them with information and being transparent about the direction the business is taking can make a huge difference in how employees approach their technology and their future.

Transparent and honest communication from the organisation to the employees is crucial. If employees understand why a technology decision has been made and why they are valuable assets, then they will be open to working with the company and supporting its investment decisions.

In addition to qualifying the why of the technology investment, these training sessions are essential in providing the how. Insight into how new tools work, what technology changes mean, the impact that new systems will have on legacy operations, and how to get the most from the outdated while budget waits for the new, will revolutionise how employees engage. While there is no miracle cure for the balance between budget and technology, there are ways of smoothing over the rougher parts of the journey.

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