Insights from Effect 2022: How digital tools streamline productivity and employee experience


SAP was proud to host some of the most influential minds in business at Effect 2022. Over two days we unpacked the post-pandemic realities of employee experience. Here, we share learnings from our ‘Productivity Pillar’, where we explored human-centred design, phones in meetings, collaboration, app culture and more.

In today’s competitive environment there is a lot of focus on attracting skilled staff, but if you can’t retain them once they arrive then your investment is wasted. A big part of this is setting staff up for success with the right tools and experiences – increasingly using technology.

Conditioned by the consumer apps they use at home – like banking, food delivery, shopping and entertainment – today’s workers expect everything to be fast, simple, seamless, instant and at their fingertips. The trouble is that often work systems are far behind in terms of usability.

Our job as leaders, and technologists, is to give people everything they need to do a great job however they prefer to work.

Insights from our New Reality Roundtable on Productivity:

A highlight of Effect 2022 were our breakout sessions where we asked business and technology leaders how they planned to innovate in relation to people, productivity and the planet.

Here are some of the takeaways from our presentations and discussions:

  • Today’s workers want to log into one application and do everything they need to get their job done throughout their day. This increases productivity for the business and provides a better experience for staff.
  • Recent research reveals that even if we have the very best machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions, the optimal performance and business benefits come when people and machines work together behind a clear strategy.
  • To get the technology right, it is crucial to move from system thinking to people thinking. To design for people, start by experiencing a ‘day in the life’ of your team in the field or office to observe the mission-critical activities and frustrations. What do they need to start the day, manage their schedule, process an order, communicate with customers, run reports and close up the day?
  • Based on this real-life information, you can storyboard, wireframe, design, prototype and test the solution that will provide the tools they need to be successful in their day to day lives. At SAP our goal is to create digital journeys for people that surface the critical data and tasks aligned to their daily tasks where and when they need it – on or offline.
  • A huge proportion of people, particularly the younger generations, run their personal and working lives on their phones. This means providing an employee experience on mobile is a huge opportunity. People are losing patience with clunky processes.
  • For example the older generation often want phones put away at work and in meetings, but for the next generation this is where they take notes, do research, schedule meetings and contact clients. Being on phones doesn’t mean they’re not engaged, just working differently.
  • There is a disconnect between the investment we make on the employee versus customer experience. Too often we put all our effort into the customer at the expense of staff, even though disgruntled staff will damage customer service.
  • IT professionals can be very good at telling teams how to use a system which has been pushed down to them, but less great at asking and observing users to see how technology can give them what they need to do their job faster and with fewer frustrations.
  • Outside technology, employee experience will win or lose on the human elements of a shared vision, sense of purpose, feeling of inclusion, team morale and a commitment to diversity. While these are broad topics, intelligent and centralised HR platforms and staff collaboration tools can demonstrate how individuals are contributing to business goals, build connections and emphasise employee benefits to build loyalty.

The ultimate goal is to create personalised digital experiences that help users have a great day at work. Ideally they won’t even be aware that they are using technology or switching between systems. While this requires investment and integration, the payoff is worth it.

Visit the Effect 2022 website to learn more about the event and watch a replay of the keynote by Nic Gill, High Performance Coach for the New Zealand All Blacks.