THE rise of digitised business processes is putting pressure on the definition and role of chief information officers. Whereas this executive’s role used to be clearly demarcated, the rise of data-based customer engagement is creating new roles for chief marketing officers, and even new positions such as chief digital officer.
The bunfight over convergence of these roles is likely to continue for years, but transforming and digitising the operations of an organisation will remain the chief information officer’s responsibility for the foreseeable future.
Organisational innovation in the age of digital everything still comes from them, and that includes bringing their employee engagement up to the very latest and best standards.
Innovation in the mining industry has been focused chiefly on improving exploration, mining, mineral processing, beneficiation and environmental impact. The reach of digital through cellphones is now bringing innovation to employee engagement.

A CHIEF information officer can bring companywide innovation into a mining company by targeting high employee engagement. Company leaders often realise that employee behaviour affects the delivery of business goals, but are not always sure of how to engage with their workforce to produce good results.
What is often apparent is the lack of employee engagement — seen when workers speak positively about the company, want to be a part of it, and work harder to make it a success. The principles of customer engagement that are driving changes in the way companies interact with customers, can be used to turn a disengaged workforce into a highly engaged and productive one.
Companies are struggling to engage employees effectively, as shown by the 2015 South African Human Capital Trends report by Deloitte. The survey found that 32% of employees have tremendous challenges with information overload, and could be doing far more for the organisation’s engagement and culture.
A further 13% of companies reported they had no focus on engaging employees, while only 2% thought they were getting it right.
The frequent strikes in the gold and platinum mining sector are a sign that mining companies have a competitive opportunity by targeting improved worker engagement. Digitally enabled engagement is a major deliverable for chief information officers.

DIGITALLY enabled engagement as a solution is especially useful for mining companies, with their typically large and disparate work forces where distance, language, culture and connectivity can further complicate engagement.
Workforce engagement can play a role in sharing information companywide that can be scaled in any direction or restricted to a employee category, and delivering all company information in the recipient’s language of choice.
Such systems can work on a variety of devices and systems, including the very simplest phones though USSD and SMS. It allows all classes of workers to communicate directly with management and to log any complaints or issues swiftly.
By engaging workers in the language of their choice, responding quickly and effectively to concerns, and empowering them with relevant information to build a culture of performance and collaboration, digital workforce engagement can be a practical example of a mining company’s commitment to treating its workforce with respect and dignity.
Chief information officers can also assist in greatly reducing costs. One of the biggest challenges facing companies as they “go digital” is tech debt, most likely outdated or poorly maintained systems. Upgrading a legacy system can be ruinously expensive. However, a digital workforce engagement tool is designed to work on SAP and includes employee self-service functions such as sharing payslip information and submitting leave requests.

Digitally enabled workforce engagement  boosts productivity by boosting workforce engagement. It also expands the lifespan of legacy systems much more cheaply than a wholesale upgrade.

Furthermore, it helps other executives deliver their objectives.


This article was first published in the Business Day on the 16th February 2016

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