Actual Experience is a Human Experience Management company. They work with business leaders and people-centric organisations to continuously analyse the Human Experience of the Digital Workplace. Our Digital Business Analytics quantifies the impact the digital workplace has on employees and the overall business and provides actionable information to pinpoint areas of improvement for the benefit of both employees and the company.
Mr. Dave Page, the company’s Founder & Chief Strategy Officer shared with EUROPEAN BUSINESS his insights on the current challenges faced by enterprises and how to improve productivity…
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: Dave, tell us about more about Actual Experience and about your role at the company.
Dave Page: As a result of my co-founder, Prof Pitts’ research, Actual Experience is the first company able to analyse the perceived human experience of the digital world and, critically today, the digital workplace. This is vitally important because it is subjective human experience that dictates an employee’s experience, their ability to work efficiently, and even their long-term wellbeing. And the world of work has become a much more digital place over the last two years.
Actual’s analytic insights provide a powerful common language for People, Finance and Technology leaders to make strategic investment decisions and to take action to create a level and fair playing field for all digital workers whilst recovering hundreds of millions of dollars of time lost due to the poor experience of their company’s digital workplace each year.
Indeed, there are many benefits of increased digital working, both for employees and for companies, for example family-friendly flexible working, reduced business travel (and hence CO2 emissions) and optimised real-estate costs. However, these benefits rely entirely on the digital workplace working properly for all employees, everywhere, all the time. This is where Actual Experience plc. comes in!
As Prof Pitts’ co-founder, I was CEO for 13 ½ years up until recently. I’m very much still with Actual, but now spend my time focused on evangelising our revolutionary insights into the digital world whilst working to support our global partners and establish new partnerships.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: In your view, what is the top of the c-suite agenda this year? What should leaders focus on more of to drive growth?
Dave Page: The last two years has seen a seismic change in the c-suite agenda. The effects of this will play out over at least the next decade. In the main, we work with large multinational corporations that, of course, represent only part of the business world, but I can tell you what we’re seeing here.
First, many employees have dramatically reconsidered what they want from work, and this has brought about the so-called Great Resignation. As a result, CHROs are rethinking their employee value proposition. In the main people are placing far greater emphasis on work-life experience than before, and in many cases see this as important as their career path and compensation. This is a profound change that will have far reaching implications. Consequently, employee retention has raced up the c-suite agenda.
Second, after three decades of benign global economic conditions, inflation is has reemerged suddenly and dramatically. This is a huge shock to the system that means ‘doing more with less’ has become critically important. Ultimately, this means that CFOs are looking to make productivity gains with an urgency and focus not seen for thirty years.
So there you have it! Retention and productivity are top of the pile in the c-suite this year.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: What are some of the biggest challenges you see to the human factors that drive retention and productivity? Tell us your experience and expertise.
Dave Page: I think business are currently flying blind here, and they are only now starting to realise this. I recognize this is quite a bold assertion, so let me unpack it a little.
If we step back a little, most CHROs would say that employee retention and productivity are reliant on, and driven by, employee experience. This was quantified by a Gartner survey recently that revealed that employees that have a good experience are 60% more likely to stay, 69% more likely to be high performers, and 52% more likely to contribute significant discretionary effort.
Employee experience is itself broadly dependent on company culture, the physical workplace and, since the pandemic, the hybrid digital workplace. Assessing employee workplace experience using pulse surveys was a reasonable approach when employees had a shared, common experience in corporate offices, but hybrid digital working means that each employee’s experience has become unique, depending on their home set-up and how frequently they are in the office, which means that pulse surveys no longer work unless you can guarantee a 100% response rate.
Consequently, People tools and processes that worked well before the pandemic now leave organizations flying blind. Technology tools and processes cannot help either since these are blind to the subjective human factors that drive retention and productivity.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: COVID-19 is still a worldwide threat, can you talk about how has COVID-19 impacted the industries and your business? Challenges or opportunities?
Dave Page: I would say that the forced lockdown experiment of remote working proved to previously skeptical business leaders that digital technology works. It can be relied on. What is striking though is that the more prescient leaders now realise this is about much more than hybrid working. These leaders can now see that they technology can liberate them from established industry practices, allowing them to reimagine their business and steal a march on their competitors. Their willingness to rely on technology to transform their business is what has changed. So technology adoption and related business transformation has raced up the c-suite agenda too, and CIOs are very much in the limelight.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: Dave, please tell us about yourself, your personal experience. What inspired you to start with Actual Experience?
Dave Page: I worked at Marconi until the Cold War ended in ’91 when many defense industry engineers like me were made redundant. Fortunately, I was soon employed by one of Britain’s largest banks, NatWest, working in the City, building communication networks. At the time, the internet barely existed, but I was asked to investigate its potential for the bank, and realised the internet was a ‘game changer’. With his newfound financial and internet knowledge I moved first to British Telecom, and then to IBM, to help them win the first financial services outsource deals based on internet technology. Next, I moved to Cisco Systems, which is an American company, right at the forefront of internet technology and central to its global deployment. From there I joined my first start-up. It was eight years of long days and gritty determination. In the end, it was sold to EDS, which was not the outcome we had hoped for, but it meant the technology and employees could carry on the journey. I then tried to spin some technology out of Hewlett Packard, but that failed fairly quickly. Despite these disappointments, I had realized that creating something from nothing, forming a business from a mere idea, working with inspirational people with can-do attitudes, was a deeply rewarding experience. It was a desire for more that led to my current company, Actual Experience plc.