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Thought leadership from SAI to accelerate your performance

Systems Alliance Blog

Opinion, advice and commentary on IT and business issues from SAI
Keyword: transformation

Disruption in Your Workforce Strategy 

The last four or five quarters at SAI have been packed with hundreds of interviews, workshops and conversations with our clients, industry experts and others about changes in workforce learning as we’ve gathered requirements for Acadia and worked through early adopter projects. I’ll attempt to distill some of the larger points in this blog and we’ll continue to share our findings in individual conversations if you’re interested in more detail.

I have been reminded several times through this process of Clay Christensen. Christensen has proven to be one of the foremost business strategists in our time and I’ve watched him accurately predict the disruptive innovation of several industries (technology, telcos, education) during my time at PwC and SAI. The increasing pressure being exerted in some segments of the workforce today around learning, compliance and change management are consistent with some of the fundamental changes that Christensen has predicted in the past.

Demographics and Work Arrangements

Whether you like PwC, Accenture, Deloitte or dozens of other consulting firm’s predictive capabilities, all are forecasting an accelerating transition to more part time, contract and contingent workers in the years ahead with a consensus forecast of more than 50% by 2025. In parallel, work component design, Glassdoor, LinkedIn and a confluence of demographic factors are aligning to make employee portability an emerging threat for enterprises as we struggle to build capacity in a workforce that often isn’t aligned with job requirements. Sprinkle in a host of retiring Boomers with little documentation around best practices and you have the potential for rapid deterioration in quality and differentiation among large enterprises.

Our clients have explained in great detail across multiple verticals (retail, healthcare, dining, manufacturing, retail banking) that the cycle time to onboard new team members has been largely unchanged over the last several years despite large investments in technology, staff and processes. While voicing increasing support for automated recruiting platforms that are shortening the recruiting cycle, getting employees up to speed quickly and consistently has continued to constrain organizational growth and effectiveness. Rapid turnover is exacerbating the problem as HR professionals struggle to meet a larger regulatory burden with an accelerating number of staff changes.

Long Live Content; Content is Dead

A second recurring theme across many of our workshops revolves around the idea that organizations have created significant amounts (“mountains” …) of content (LMS content, learning aids, etc.), all with the hope of enabling more effective training and development only to be disappointed that employees can’t find the right content at the right time and quickly give up looking for it. Many of our clients described high six and low seven figure investments in LMS platforms that are essentially unused except for deploying mandatory compliance training as the staff that are most qualified to create the content don’t have the time or experience with the tools to be able to quickly create training content.

‘Content freshness” was identified in multiple workshops as another serious concern, i.e. the inability to figure out how to quickly update content on a timely basis and get rid of stale content before it creates other disruptions; this appears to be a particular problem with HR and other back office content. One of our clients referred to this as “lurking” content, another as “content debt”. The emerging “content debt” problem was identified in approximately 65% of our interviews as the primary obstacle to improving employee effectiveness as content owners don’t have the capacity or detailed process experience to rework, replace or remove the content.   

Access Speed and Mobility

By my count we have heard seven different variations of the “if I can find the answer to who that guy was in “Taken” on my phone, why can’t I find out what our IT policy is about <fill in the blank>.” Problems with content accessibility were most often associated with the usability of the content (scrolling in Office documents) and inconsistencies in the content across different devices. Subject matter expert content creators don’t have the time or experience to figure out how to work around technical issues and no clear owner appears to exist for these problems in either the business or IT.

More to Come

We are accumulating specific industry and functional domain business case and ROI information around these issues through our Acadia Early Adopter program and we would be happy to share that information with you (whether you are an Acadia customer or not J). Please drop me a note at if you have questions or would like to discuss any of this further. 

With preparations in hand from fanatical observance of our three prior Blogs on this subject, the Higher Ed transformation team is now approaching countdown and launch. In Blogs 1-3, we covered the discovery, analysis, and visioning phases. We will now complete preparations for the Transformation Initiative launch by completing the Program Roadmap.

Crafting a world-class Roadmap involves four key steps which synthesize learnings from the prior work stages:...Read More

So you’ve built the business and technology foundation for your Higher Ed IT Transformation program using the outline from our first blog and now you’re ready for the next step. In Phase II, we’ll determine which business and technical “levers” are available to improve results; where changes can be made to achieve the program goals.

This is where the team does some analytical heavy lifting to coax out areas of opportunity. So get ready to:...Read More

We hear regularly from our Higher Ed CIO clients about the accelerating complexity associated with maintaining legacy applications and IT service delivery processes. Doing this while quickly moving in parallel to support on-line learning platforms, an increasingly mobile student population and a rapidly changing application portfolio is an even greater challenge. (Exhausted yet?)  And by the way, all of this needs to be accomplished with a diminished pool of funding. Now more than ever, you need a structured approach to bring order from complexity. We think the Transformation Roadmap approach works well in these circumstances....Read More

To begin evaluating your redesign, you'll need objective and subjective measures for a 360-degree view of performance. For objective metrics consider starting with the following widely used Web stats:

  • Growth in traffic to key sections of your Website
  • Visitor navigation patterns – are visitors actually going to the pages you want them to, and how are they getting there
  • Change in abandonment rate on key pages
  • Referrer statistics – where is the traffic coming from
  • Growth in conversions – however defined for your particular business, e.g. sales leads, online transactions completed, customer inquiries, etc.
  • Pay-per-click advertising activity (if applicable) – growth in click-through rate and more importantly, conversions.
  • Number of pages updated or created on a monthly basis (fresh/relevant content is critical)

Drilling In

Going a step further, consider which specific metrics make sense for your site and business. Your answer will depend on industry and organization, so consider these examples:

  • Retail – growth in number and value of online transactions, basket composition (cross-selling effectiveness), reduction in phone/email customer service inquiries, growth in customer feedback on products/transactions (engagement)
  • Higher Education – Growth in number of applications for admission and requests for information, growth in giving/donations, increase in yield (shows engagement with prospective/accepted students).
  • Healthcare – Increased number of appointments via online channels, growth in online transactions and services (increasing operational efficiency), improved customer/patient satisfaction.
  • Associations – Membership growth and renewals, product/service sales to members, reduction in phone/email customer service inquiries.

Subjective Metrics
Beyond objective metrics, it is useful to understand how site performance impacts internal and external stakeholders. In terms of internal stakeholders, interviews can be used to understand what, if any, impact your Web transformation had on those aspects of the business that are most directly affected by your Web presence. For external stakeholders (your Website visitors) you can accomplish the same thing with an online survey. Yes, surveys can be hit or miss, but they’re still effective if properly implemented.

The Bottom Line
Your Web transformation project can have a significant impact on your organization’s success. Simply going through the motions, e.g., improving the UI, does not guarantee your site will end up performing any better. And, sometimes, even well-planned projects miss the mark – thought this is a far from tragic outcome if you know how and why.

The intent here is to understand the impact of our efforts – if all positive, then an opportunity to demonstrate in a reasonably objective way, the transformation’s impact on our business and view into the return on investment of our efforts. If our analysis indicates our efforts have not been as successful as we would like – no need to panic, since we should have the information we need to make appropriate course corrections. Either way, this measurement activity provides us with actionable information to help us optimize our Web management efforts – and this is in reality a never ending – and rewarding – process.

Apr 2016