Blog: Frank Kenna 

Frank Kenna (bio)
President and CEO
The Marlin Company

Tuesday, 08 July 2014

That title is from a June 9th article in The Wall Street Journal, which examined the trend of employees going off on their own – around corporate IT – to get their jobs done. It’s an important development because of the way it’s transforming the software industry, companies’ IT departments, and the companies’ financial results.

A typical scenario is this: A group of employees is working on a document that resides on the company network behind the corporate firewall.  The problem arises when those employees are on the road or working from home where they may not have access to the network. So they go around the firewall by saving the document on Dropbox – problem solved. Or is it?

The obvious issue is that the firewall is there for a reason, to protect the company and the integrity of its information. But if that protection prevents employees from doing their jobs, it becomes counter-productive. Which begs the question: Which is more important, data security or productivity?

There isn’t a clear answer. Both sides of the argument are important. But new research  from PricewaterhouseCoopers adds credence to the need for companies to embrace these new mobile technologies one way or the other.

Their 5th Annual Digital IQ Survey of more than 1,100 business and technology executives found that companies that embrace new technologies were more prevalent in their “Top Performers” (TPs) group. For example, nearly twice as many TPs (32%) say they have everything [their employees] need on their mobile platforms compared to 17% of other respondents. And TPs are much more likely to invest in public cloud applications than non-TPs, by a margin of 69% to 47%.

To me, the future is clear.  Using the new mobile and cloud technologies is a trend that’s gaining momentum quickly, creating excellent outcomes for work groups and their companies. Organizations that don’t adapt are being left behind as illustrated by PwC’s study.  But even managers who agree with this may be in a quandary due to concerns about controlling company information. What those managers need to realize is that the information is out of their control anyway, and really has been for years. After all, employees have been emailing documents outside of the company to their home computers, associates and personal email accounts for over 20 years.  

Clear policies on sharing and moving company information are a big part of the solution, for example as outlined in this Huffington Post article. Managers have been through all of this all before, as the introductions of the telephone, fax machine, personal computer and email all presented similar concerns. But the important thing to remember is they also created huge productivity gains and are now part of our workplace fabric.  

Posted by: Admin AT 09:15 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 01 July 2014

I’ve often written about the ROI of using digital signage for effective workplace communications and how it’s dripping with cost savings, but today I want to focus on an issue that concerns most of our customers: Safety.

Safety ROI can be broken down into two primary segments, visible and non visible. The graphic above, based on DuPont’s efforts as written about here, uses an iceberg to illustrate those segments. The list above the water’s surface represent the immediate ramifications and related costs of poor safety. The items below are the ones often overlooked, but nonetheless very real.

One way of monetizing these differences is by looking at how the National Safety Council does it. They break down the costs into "economic" and "comprehensive" costs, similar to the iceberg concept, with the economic costs including the direct costs and the comprehensive ones including what people would actually pay for better safety (beyond the direct costs). The NSC says that these are what people actually pay to reduce their safety and health risks. According to their 2012 report, the cost difference of a non-fatal disabling injury between the two methods is $78,000 versus $230,000. 

The visible — or tip-of-the-iceberg — cost savings include medical costs, wage indemnity (lost wages paid to injured workers) and claims fees. The ones lurking beneath the surface include litigation, schedule delays, reputation damage, lost productivity and replacement labor.

But regardless of how you figure it, the cost savings associated with safer work environments are huge. Repetitive and engaging communications about safe practices are key. 

Like I said at the top, safety is just one of many cost-savings areas for calculating workplace communications ROI. I truly believe, through decades of experience, testimonials and observation that the overall ROI is in the 100’s or 1000’s of percents. Here’s a tidbit of information that may drive the point home: According to the NSC report, even a reported injury that turns out to be no injury has an average cost of $2,500. 

Whether it’s the $2,500 figure on the low end, or the cost of a workplace death of $4.5 million on the high end, the cost savings of better safety communications alone would easily justify any reasonable communications system expenditure. When adding in the other big issues such as productivity, quality, engagement, morale and teamwork, it’s a total no-brainier.

Posted by: Admin AT 09:43 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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