UPDATED 18:00 EDT / JULY 29 2019

Maribel Lopez, Lopez Research NEWS

Workplace productivity in the digital age: Why employees need engaging too

Technology is firmly embedded in most people’s personal lives. Yet the technology gap between home and office can be vast. With companies focused on cultivating engaged clientele, bringing the benefits of digital transformation to the workforce seemed a lesser priority.

The costs of this decision are adding up. Disengaged employees are “phoning it in” at work, cumulatively costing a huge $7-trillion dollars in lost productivity, according to global survey by Gallup Inc. Add the costs of talent drain as skilled employees move on to greener pastures, and the problem takes on a serious tone.

“Employee experience is a critical board-level topic,” said Maribel Lopez (pictured), founder and principal analyst at Lopez Research LLC. “The biggest challenge now is figuring out how do we define that and what tools do we need in the organization to make that happen.”

Lopez spoke with Lisa Martin and Keith Townsend, co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the recent Citrix Synergy event in Atlanta. They discussed trends in workplace technology and the globalization of the workforce (see the full interview with transcript here). (* Disclosure below.)

This week, theCUBE spotlights Maribel Lopez in our Women in Tech feature.

A roadmap to the digital era

Lopez is considered a thought leader in how to apply new technology in the workplace, and her expertise in business strategy and market research is highly regarded.

After a career spent as an analyst and researcher in the corporate world, Lopez founded Lopez Research in 2008. Specializing in industry analysis and advisory services, the company offers strategic advice to businesses entering the digital economy.

An accomplished public speaker, Lopez is a regular keynoter at technology conferences. She actively supports increasing diversity in the workplace, specifically encouraging female entrepreneurs. Lopez is consistently named as a top influencer to follow on Twitter, making lists for both “internet of things” and workplace tech in 2019. As well as the latest insights, her Twitter feed spotlights diversity-focused industry events and achievements by her female colleagues in tech.

Diversity is a concept Lopez identifies as key for the cultural and technological transformation of the workplace and increasing employee engagement.

“Diversity means a lot of different things,” she said. “Diversity means diversity of geography, diversity means diversity of opinions, diversity means diversity of technology. It is changing the way you think about culture from being everybody has to be in the building. It’s also diversity in terms of how you evaluate an employee’s worth.”

Lopez is also the author of “Right-Time Experiences: Driving Revenue With Mobile and Big Data” and co-founder of the Emerging Technology Research Council. A regular contributor to Forbes magazine, Lopez’s recent article “How AI Enables a Better Future of Work” describes new workplace technology announced at the Citrix Synergy event. She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing from entrepreneurially minded Babson College and was named one of IoT World Today’s 25 Most Influential Women in IoT.

Taking a step forward from digital transformation

With such an impressive background, Lopez’s vision for the future of the workplace isn’t pulled from the clouds. Location independence, part-time or on-demand employees who come and go, and “use the tool you want,” are three emerging trends she sees.

“My personal perspective is, employees are people too,” Lopez said. “There’s no reason why you need to go to the office and you shouldn’t have a good quality experience.” Instead of adapting existing workplace methods to new technology, companies need to provide employees with the same ease of interaction with technology at work that they have come to expect in their personal lives.

“There are many ways you can get a job done,” she said. “So it’s really important when people are building the next generation of technology that they allow enough flexibility for choice … because that’s attractive to [employees].”

But reinventing the workplace is more than digitally transforming. It’s a sea change in the way work is performed. “A real big change in the future [of] work is not about the technology. Technology can enable you to get there, but it’s really about a rethink of how we do business,” Lopez said.

She advocates discarding the traditional concept of the nine-to-five white-collar worker. Instead of basing salaries on hours worked, companies should judge employee worth on the value they bring to the organization. “[The] concept of going from ‘I saw you therefore you must be working’ to ‘You impacted our net promoter score, you impacted sales’ … so that [employees] feel that they have worth and you understand their worth,” Lopez explained.

Intelligent workspace management

Today’s workforce is a mixed bunch when it comes to technology expertise. Managers deal with digital-native Millennials — who have never known a world without Wi-Fi — to old-school employees who still prefer paper files. Add the diverse needs of on-demand contractors versus full-time office staff, plus increasing numbers of home-based or mobile employees, and the workplace becomes a hodgepodge of work styles, devices and applications. Securing this complexity is a headache, and employees become frustrated with integration slow-downs and multiple logins and passwords.

“What companies like Citrix are trying to do is take all that process out, do all that systems integration for you and to actually wrap a layer of security around it at the outset, as opposed to trying to retrofit the security at the back end of it,” Lopez said. “You’re not trying to figure out ‘How do I MacGyver five tools together to make this happen with duct tape and sticky glue?’”

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Citrix Synergy event. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for Citrix Synergy 2019. Neither Citrix Systems Inc., the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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