The Infosys Labs research blog tracks trends in technology with a focus on applied research in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

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Employee Shared Services: Not realized yet?

Shared Service is very well proven notion and many organizations have implemented it centrally to service their employees. However, it hasn't yet realized its true value because organizations have failed to adopt in the right spirit as well as implement it correctly.

Shared service (SS) has three aspects: (a) the service provider's perspective; (b) the end user's perspective; and (c) the mode of delivery. If these three aspects converge to form a central idea only then SS can be successful. This central concept has to be focused around the following questions: (a) Who are the users? (b) What do the users want? (c) Is organization ready to implement SS from the user's point of view? (d) Is the end user happy while using the SS? (e) Is the end user willing to come back to use SS again? Among all these questions (d) & (e) are very critical for the success of SS. If we seek answers for these questions from the end users then around 90 percent of respondents would tend to have negative opinions. Still this is a reality and it is time for organizations to wake up to the reality of unsatisfied end users. If SS is already being implemented in the organization, then it is time to take a few corrective measures. If organization is in the phase of implementation, then it is essential to implement it in the right way. When organization fails to do so, it should be ready for sour taste of disgruntled end users.

Initially, SS provides linear benefits in terms of the cost savings because of the efficient usage of resources. However, after 1 to 2 years, its benefits become stagnant. This is because the adoption strategy is implemented wrongly. Using SS only for reducing cost isn't beneficial in the long run as it has to be well jelled with what the consumer wants.   

Till today, organizations have failed to see the real success of SS because these services aren't designed and implemented from a consumer centric view, and instead implemented in the way the organization finds it comfortable for them. The strategy, design and implementation of SS take shape in a manner in which the organization wants it to be. But are these being done in the correct manner is a much more serious question that organizations should ask? Implementers' are deciding the fate of SS and in turn organization's future. Are they offering SS from the organization's perspective or from the user point of view? Are they involving consumers during the process of adoption? Usually, in SS adoption focus is from the organization's point of view and not the consumer. This is another reason for failure of SS. Strategy needs to be corrected by focusing on what consumers want. It is possible by using agile methodology throughout the SS implementation.

Consumer encounters certain stages while using a service, such as the starting of service, consumption of service, and ending of service. While passing through these stages, a journey with the SS, the consumer gathers a certain experience about the service. The positive perception of the experience creates a long term impact on the consumer, and makes them loyal to the service. This loyalty drives the success of service. Therefore, it is necessary to create a whole ecosystem of service experience for the SS. This ecosystem must have tolerable level of service delivery and should meet the service goals. It should be able to meet the expectations of consumer.

Work place is changing fast. Technology is becoming the integral part of the workplace. Working timings are becoming flexible. For instance, some of the employees are working on the office workspace while others may be at home or some other place. Work places are shifting from office to home. Most of the organizations are allowing their employees to work from home. Hence, providing physical service at particular location is becoming next to impossible. Therefore, it is becoming very much necessary for the organizations to use technology on a large scale to provide SS required to employees. Technology also helps in the scalability of SS and it is possible to service anyone in the world.

While it comes to delivery of the SS, technology has a lot to offer. In last decade, shared service delivery has shifted from a very physical delivery mechanism to an information technology driven mode. Especially, when techno-users - gen - 'Y' and techno-savvy gen - 'Z' has entered the organizations the mode of delivery has moved from desktop to mobiles and tablets. Organizations that still embrace paper-pencil based SS are going to fail if they don't move fast towards technology adoption. The new generation wants everything through the technology. They are attached to the systems 24×7. However, in such a technology driven delivery mode human touch is missing. Therefore there is a necessity to provide smarter shared services (SSS) based on intelligent technologies such as machine learning and analytics. The SSS should be capable to identify the every move of user and provide them what they want.

Adoption of social media in SS is also important. It makes SS smarter and fulfills needs of Gen-Z and reduces dependency on employer for most of the supports.  Similarly, consumer doesn't want to depend upon the opinion of employer rather they are relying more on the opinions of others, wanted to see what others are doing, wanted to share their views hence adoption of social techniques is becoming a de-facto to strengthen offerings of SS.

Organizations are becoming global, and have offices across the various locations, be in the developed or developing economies. There are employees at these locations those come with various cultural beliefs and are become an integral part of the global work force. Hence, integrity of the organization is the greatest challenge. Serving them with the same type of ethics and transparency is becoming the need of the organization. Real challenge is round the clock service at all corners of the world. It is becoming more complex when consumer, provider and decision makers are sitting at different corners of the world. To connect them and serve the employee is unmanageable without the right service strategy and technology. In such a situation, when there is more reliance on technology, service experience is becoming a key challenge for the organization. Without right expertise if such a situation is managed then it may lead to worse implementation of SS.

Complexity of shared services is increasing as most of the offerings to consumers are moving on the shared platform. Consumers are flooded with many systems and complex processes of SS. The waiting time for moving from one process to another is increasing as there is manual intervention of decision makers. Organization should really look for automated decision making and work flows to avoid delays. Current technologies, based on decision science principles, have the capabilities to do so.

While offering SS, it is necessary to develop a feel good factor among the consumers so that they can rely on SS for their most of the services required from employer. Consumer should sense that they are served better and personally attended, and this feeling has to be developed in the technology driven environment. Consumer should be able to get a unique and memorable experience every time they consume the service. Therefore, blindly using the SS isn't going to solve all these issues. What's really required is a comprehensive smart shared services platform which is built on employee centric approach using modern technologies to create a whole service experience. This will fulfill the employees' needs and extend cost benefits to the organization in longer run.


(Authors: Dr. Manish Godse & Dr. Indranil Roy Chowdhury)

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