Digital dark ages cost companies their best new hires

Author: Paul | Date posted: July 17, 2012

Just received an enthusiastic email from a senior executive in the music industry who is currently reading my book. She told me this story about her former Executive Assistant. The assistant went to work for the CEO of a global luxury fashion brand – her dream job.  The assistant called my reader on Day 1 to say that when she switched on the computer it was like returning to a “digital dark age”. The assistant was stunned and quit the new job the following morning.

Is this an over-reaction? Well that depends. The brand, the role, the offices were no doubt perfect and all she wanted, but her digital experience had no relation to the physical experience. It was as if the brand stopped at the “digital door” and just travelled back in time. It was not just the quality of the intranet, office tools, hardware itself and the user-experience of those elements but also that digital blockages were in place: no Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and external resources – a bit like trying to work in a bunker.

You can judge a huge amount when you fire up a company’s technology. All the branding and reputation often still mean little online internally. Companies traditionally invest in their external digital profile as “that is where the money is” but what about your staff, contractors, freelancers, agencies using your internal and secure extranets? If their experience is disappointing – or as in the case of the Executive Assistant just depressing – then how people work, the quality of their work and their discretionary effort (the energy we bring or hold back based on how we feel that day) diminishes.

I have heard many stories like this where “Digital Disappointment” kicks in fast and the employer loses its best people – or keeps them but with reduced value. Companies short-change staff and contractors because they are not customers. I was told at a recent event that German firms are transforming their technology from the inside out on the basis that getting the work flows, user experience and collaboration strong within the company is essential before reflecting that externally. Now that is brave, smart and brings a competitive edge for the future.




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