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Five Ways to Make Data Work for the Workplace

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Office services in the workplace are evolving as a result of increasing pressure to deliver good services with fewer resources and less money, and the systems that support the digital office must be fully integrated to simplify daily operations.

Systems that are not integrated increase operational costs from duplicate and inconsistent data entry, reduced process controls, material loss and increased labor. But even more critically, truly integrated systems bring performance data to life – data that can change and improve the way we manage, optimize and utilize resources, space, and assets.

Here are five ways to make data work for the workplace:

(1)  Make Old Data New Again
Core systems that drive back, mid and front offices are often decades old, comprising everything from custom systems built to the run the financial services industry in the 1970s, to the ERP reengineering wave of the 1990s. In addition, multiple physical assets and technologies inside and outside the organization have changed at different rates, some becoming obsolete before they are integrated – other legacy systems operating in complete isolation. Today, many roads to digital innovation lead through these "heart of the business" products, applications, and systems – transforming the bedrock of technology footprint to move "old" existing data through the organization in whole new ways – ways that are designed to actively drive company performance. Easy integration of diverse systems is key to uncovering hidden gold – information that has been collected and siloed for years can suddenly bring new insight to the organization.

(2)  Make Data Centralized
Most companies have plenty of data about their workplace – their customers, various departments and all the myriad of processes within them. The problem is that this potentially rich data often lives in different places and is owned by different functions. In addition, many companies tend to organize their data by departmental channels, and therefore can struggle to get an overall view of their entire office services functions. Organizations need to centralize their data to create a 360-view of the workplace that becomes the "golden source" of workplace insight, i.e., a single, integrated view of data that everyone in the business agrees on and can access.

Creating this complete view is based on combining structured data – common sources of data that fit in prescribed models, such as inventory and order-processing information – and “unstructured” data (e.g. location-based data). A key issue is not just collecting and collating the data but making it easy for business users to access. Digital innovators are investing in platforms that allow employees to "self-serve" practical insights.

(3)  Make Data Work for Work Again
In today's fast-paced world, we need technology that works for, not against us. For example, many of us have experienced the frustration of needing a place to meet, but not having the space to do it. Even more frustrating? Seeing an online calendar full of booked conference rooms, but no meetings actually taking place in the physical space. At times, it feels like "work isn’t working" for us, the physical and digital workplace are more at odds than ever at supporting one another. In part that's because individual workers have access to a lot more sophisticated technology (such as mobile devices) than the workplace, yet at the same time, the expectation of access to immediate, real-time information is much higher. Today, technology must pull data in real-time, combining the digital and physical workplace to increase productivity and overall happiness.

(4)   Make Data Personal
To help drive value in data, companies are beginning to put in place personalized portals, dashboards, and even engines. These are data-driven systems that automate decision making, trigger actions based on employee activity, and iterate their communications based on what they learn. Data-activated service can be based on a person's real-time needs, interests, and behaviors can boost employee well-being significantly. Data should never be blind. For example, on an average day, your service desk team might not consider a printer failure their highest priority ticket. But the CEO's printer? That’s another story. Knowing in real-time who is being served, or not being served, changes the way one might prioritize service and also the way in which performance is measured. You should expect personal flexibility and configurability from your technologies – SLA performance goals should be able to be based on just about any combination of parameters you define. Performance is personal, both for individuals and for organizations. And views of data should be personaltoo.

(5)  Make Data Measurable
Every organization's view of the quality of a service or product is based on tangible and intangible factors, both of which are important. Tangible factors are those which can be objectively measured, such as the time taken to deliver an item, the charge made and the level of operational performance. Intangible factors include those which are more subjective in nature and, therefore, more difficult to measure; for example, the utility of the item to the customer, its adaptability and advantages over other types or merely the courtesy of the service provider’s employees. The difficulty of quantifying some factors should not preclude their measurement as they can be as important as those that are easily measured.

Organizations should not, however, impose too many or overly demanding performance measurements and excessive monitoring on service providers as this could become counter-productive. A sensible approach is to concentrate on KPIs. Before performance measurements can be put in place, output specifications must be established. For this, a good understanding of the organization's requirements is required.

Conclusion
Performance in the workplace is constantly being monitored, and also the way in which we interpret performance data. Integration of workplace technologies allows us to instantly report on activities across traditionally siloed operations – giving us a brand-new view of performance company-wide. At any given moment we can receive real-time data, which means that at Bear River we are tasked with a new and continual challenge – to make data valuable to all the various users, to make it relevant and to make it inform positive, ongoing improvement in service to our customers and their employees.

Revital Gilad, COO & CBDO, Bear River Associates
Revital Gilad is responsible for setting and managing the strategic direction of Bear River, driving operational growth, and fueling thought leadership throughout the organization and also manages its day-to-day operations Revital is also the force behind many of the company's significant, global strategic partnerships.

This Week’s Sponsor

Bear River's flagship product, BearTracks, is a fully scalable enterprise software designed to help companies of every size track, report and manage critical office services – from mail & parcels, print & copy, supply & assets – to facilities & hospitality. Whether you have one site or hundreds, BearTracks provides real-time operational insights to help meet and exceed even the most ambitious service goals, turning everyday workplace functions into true competitive advantage. www.bearriver.com

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