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The World of Engagement

Sep 20, 2012 4:59:53 PM by John F. Mancini

Those of us in the content space have said for years that the vast untamed Wild West of information management is in the world of unstructured information. Unstructured is all of the “stuff” (a technical term) like email, Office files, images, instant messages, social content and, yes, paper, that
surrounds, engulfs and chokes off all those nice theoretical automated processes on those cute workflow diagrams.

In this new world of radically changing technologies and radically increased stakes tied to the effective use of technology, I am convinced that our ability to engage — really engage — our customers, our partners and our employees will be the key to success.

The technologies we deploy will play a role in determining how effective we are in driving this engagement. We can no longer assume that this engagement will happen serendipitously in our organizations or as a byproduct of “serious” technologies.We need to think strategically about engagement and the information systems that are necessary to make engagement happen.

So let’s first think about this rather amorphous thing called “engagement.” Is it important? Does it impact the effectiveness of organizations? Gallup has done some very interesting work in researching the question of
“engagement.” Let’s start with employee engagement.

In Employee Engagement: What’s Your Engagement Ratio, Gallup describes the categories of employees as follows:

Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.

Non-engaged employees have essentially “checked out.” They sleepwalk through workdays. They put in time but don’t approach their work with energy or passion.

Actively disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what engaged co-workers accomplish.

The data suggests that the reality of most organizations is a lot like “The Office,” whether you are talking about the U.S. or the U.K. version. In other words, it’s NOT GOOD. There are an awful lot of Stanley Hudsons and Creed Brattons out there in our organizations.

According to Gallup, in average organizations, 33 percent of workers are engaged in their jobs, 49 percent are not engaged, and 18 percent are actively disengaged. The ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees in organizations is 1.83:1.

On the other hand, in world-class organizations, the numbers are vastly different: 67 percent of workers are engaged in their jobs, 26 percent are not engaged, and 7 percent are actively disengaged. The ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees in average world-class organizations is 9.57:1.

Per Gallup, all of this translates in $370 billion per year in lost productivity in the U.S. alone as a result of disengaged employees.

Gallup has also looked at this question of engagement from the customer perspective in Customer Engagement: What’s Your Engagement Ratio. Their conclusion is that fully engaged customers generate a 23 percent premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth. Organizations that have optimized customer engagement outperform their competitors by 26 percent in gross margin and 85 percent in sales growth.

On the business side, we keep pushing, pushing and pushing for change. We are handicapped by our lack of true technical knowledge, and yet empowered by our perceived heightened level of technical knowledge based on our experiences in the consumer space. We sense that something
should be different, but are not quite sure what.

All we know for sure is that we are spending way too much on all of those old clunky Systems of Record (http://www.aiim.org/futurehistory) and we sure would like to get more value out of our IT spend. We can’t understand why we are spending more and more money on maintaining systems that document the past rather than enable the future.

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