Knowledge Institute Podcasts
Jonquil Hackenberg on Digitalizing the Back OfficeJuly 29, 2019
Jonquil Hackenberg, Infosys Consulting Managing Partner, discusses digital supply chains, operations and HR.
Hosted by Jeff Kavanaugh, VP and Head of the Infosys Knowledge Institute.
“Consumer perception of what you’re buying has increasingly become very, very important. So, ten years ago, it was all about mass production. And now it’s really about mass personalization.”
- Jonquil Hackenberg
Jonquil talks about her professional career and background
Jonquil explains what has formed her passion for digital supply-chain
Jeff and Jonquil talk about Berlin
Why sustainability in organisation is important, what are the drivers and why is it a big deal today?
From mass production to mass personalization. What is important?
The role of the end consumer in companies’ decisions.
Is sustainability profitable?
Jonquil talks about consumer’s perspective on sustainability. What do people think about it? Do the ethical and sustainable aspects outweigh the cost aspects?
Jonquil talks about Industry 4.0, technology and sustainable supply chains.
Decision-making process on implementing sustainability across the supply chain, Jonquil shares an example of a cotton industry company
What are the challenges in this decision-making? Distinguishing characteristics between organic and fair-trade.
Jonquil talks about coffee industry.
When an executive starts down this path, what are the decisions they need to make? In which order, are the big decisions that then make those technology and process decisions a little bit easier?
Workplace/organization of the future: Jonquil talks about importance of people and employees’ experiences.
Jonquil explains what an organization that is going to succeed in the future needs to do.
Jonquil gives an example of a company that has brought together these different areas with that thread of automation lurking beneath the surface.
Designing workplace both physically and digitally. Who in the company was responsible for that?
The role of HR and the talent strategy.
How do companies address the talent gap?
What are the companies that have done that successfully?
Jonquil talks about workspace transformation. What are the challenges?
For a company to move in the right direction it is important to use design thinking to re-think the process. Jonquil talks about redesigning the process.
Jonquil talks about her participation in Sustainability Impact Summit at the UN and the World Economic Forum.
How emerging technologies can help. Jonquil gives an example of blockchain solution for the diamond industry.
Jonquil’s words of wisdom.
Jonquil shares her favorite and most recommended book.
How can people find Jonquil online?
Jeff Kavanaugh: Welcome to the Knowledge Institute, where we talk with experts on business trends, deconstruct them into the main components, and share their insights. Today, I'm very happy to be joined by Jonquil Hackenberg, partner of Infosys Consulting, the management consulting arm of Infosys. Welcome, Jonquil.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Thanks, Jeff. Good to be here.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Very, very happy to have you. Look forward to a great discussion today. And we're going to be talking about this whole idea of organization of the future and the things that support it. But before we get going with that, would like to know a little bit about yourself and your story. What's your background?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Sure. So I've been with Infosys Consulting for close to 11 years. I head up the C-Suite advisory practice for Europe here, and I focus predominantly on digital supply-chain and operations. And that expands into employee experience, digital workplace and of course the whole area around talent, and how that's changing. And I came to Infosys, actually, from a start-up. So I used to work in start-up in the past. I worked for dot coms. I worked globally, both pre-Infosys, and now with Infosys. And, I guess, what has formed my passion for this specific area is a couple of things.
Jonquil Hackenberg: One is a passion for lifelong learning, and how that can be brought to the workplace. I think that's increasingly important. And the secondary is really around sustainability, and what does that mean? So sustainability, sure from an environmental perspective and how that impacts supply-chains. And how that impacts the workplace. But also sustainability in terms of talent and how you can regenerate your organization. Such that you're constantly turned on and ready for the future.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Well that's fantastic. It's funny because to hear you describe it, it's almost like it's something that appeals to literally the planet overall, to companies, and then almost on an individual level as well.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Exactly. Exactly right. Very well put.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Great. And, one thing I also wanted to highlight. I believe you're based in Europe? Where are you based?
Jonquil Hackenberg: So I'm based in Berlin. I'm hired out of London, but I live in Berlin, actually. Which is a great place to live, and a thriving capital of start-ups in Europe.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Yes. And I wanted to highlight that because I think Berlin, especially east Berlin, I was there last year, is such a hot bed of innovation and diverse thinking. So it brings a lot of perspectives together. So I think that background's awesome as well.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Obviously some of these trends you mentioned, sustainability in the organization, are important today. How have they gotten to this point? What are some of the drivers, or some of the things you've seen a few years ago that kind of led to this point? And why is this a big deal today?
Jonquil Hackenberg: So I think a few things have fallen into place. I guess we have the 17 sustainable development goals that have been established by the UN and perpetrated by the WEF. That's a large driver for lots of organizations to really rethink how they're going to market. So that's the first thing. I think also, consumer perception of what you're buying has increasingly become very, very important. So, ten years ago, it was all about mass production. And now it's really about mass personalization.
Jonquil Hackenberg: And as we go more to that personalization, people are really concerned about provenance of products, and also, how well people are being treated throughout the value chain. So the product they are buying, they know exactly where it's come from. That's increasingly important. Almost more so than the cost of the product. For sure, you've kind of got two schools of thought. One is, "How can I buy things cheaply?" And I guess the other half of the world is, "Well, how can I buy it ethically?" And I think that proportion of the world is increasingly becoming important.
Jonquil Hackenberg: If you look at that as a consumer driver, then flipping that on its head, or on its side, it's really looking then at the employees. And employees are really your internal customers. And they want to be working for firms who are really walking the talk. So increasingly it's important to represent exactly that perspective that you're giving to consumers internally. Because your internal employees are a reflection of the customers you're trying to sell to.
Jeff Kavanaugh: That's fascinating because the employees are now a couple of personas, or maybe they're wearing two hats. They're both the people that are helping you produce whatever product you have, or service, as well as a good indicator of the consumers you're trying to serve in the first place.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Absolutely, absolutely. And that's why I think really, this whole consumer thinkers, which is increasingly prevalent, for example, in consumer goods companies. But, really in any manufacturing organization as well. The consumer is now forefront. It's not the immediate customer that's the priority. But really the entire customer journey. And with that, you have to take into consideration, how can your own talent reflect that? And how can they then produce for the end consumer mind?
Jeff Kavanaugh: So, even for companies that sell to other companies, B to B, as the slang goes. They're still going to need to worry about the end consumer, who actually will be that last person to purchase it and use it.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Absolutely. And from that perspective, that just helps them to be more relevant for the product, and more relevant for the customer. Which then allows their own B to B customer to sell to their own consumer. And I think that's only going to increase as time goes by.
Jeff Kavanaugh: That's a good overview to maybe dig into a little bit. Now you mentioned the UN and the SDG goals. And this broad framework. Is it difficult, though, as you're talking with clients and then the executives of clients, to somehow not rationalize, but justify somehow, that they're trying to serve this bigger purpose? And yet at the same time, they get beaten up if they don't make their quarterly numbers, their monthly operations reports. How do they reconcile that difference?
Jonquil Hackenberg: That's a brilliant question. I think the answer lies somewhere in how do you make sustainability profitable? So how do you offer new lines of business? How does sustainability enable you to offer new lines of business in your go to market strategy? So for example, let's say you sell tea bags. But if you're able to prove the provenance of the tea leaf, and that it's potentially fair-trade tea, then suddenly you're opening up a new line of revenue stream that can command a higher price. And that's really, I believe, the only way that's really going to get traction in organizations. Is to how do you make sustainability profitable?
Jeff Kavanaugh: I hear the business news, and [inaudible 00:07:08] and the social media chatter. Too often that's left out. There's either a feel-good message, or maybe on your soapbox kind of message. At the same time, you've got to reconcile both of those.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Question for you. As you think about this more compelling value proposition that makes everything wonderful, you're able to make sustainability profitable. What percentage of the population feels that way? That the ethical and the sustainable aspects outweigh the cost aspects? And, maybe what percentage of the market? You see the difference? You know, the population may care, but it's addressable market because that is something I would think would also vary by company and by industry.
Jonquil Hackenberg: I think it varies by company and by industry. And also by geography. So, for the emerging markets, there's less a concern from a consumer perspective as to what they're buying, along with the price of what they're buying. And I think that will continue for a while. But ironically, or conversely, it's often the emerging markets that care most about where their supply-chains are most going to be effected by those industrialized markets. Where the consumers are willing to pay more, because they want to know where their product comes from, and that people are being treated fairly. And often it's the people who need to be treated fairly in that supply-chain, who are in the emerging market.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So as that awareness becomes greater, I think we're still talking about ... I don't have a percentage figure, but we're talking about small numbers still. But increasingly, because of consumer perception, and because of the likes of [inaudible 00:08:50] and really driving that younger generation to talk about making a stand about the planet. I think there's going to be some rapid changes soon that will demand answers from organizations.
Jeff Kavanaugh: That's what makes this discussion so interesting, isn't it? Because if we say that we're living in exponential times, and the goal is to figure out when that knee of the curve, or that inflection point, hits before other people do. Because if you do afterwards, and perhaps it's too late, then that's kind of what you're doing, isn't it? You're kind of looking forward and seeing this. Yeah, it's fascinating. Do you see ... What role do you see analytics and data ... I would think all these points you're making, they're based upon facts, or based upon trends, or based upon something. We think it's pretty important to figure out what data you can trust, and what data you can actually look at to establish these trends. Can you comment about maybe sources of data for the general population? And then maybe are there some specific areas to look to get some more insight?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Yes. So, you're using ... If you look at Industry 4.0 and the technology that it affords and brings to bear, it really gives the opportunity for both a company to prove their traceability, their provenance of products, their transparency across the supply-chain. And with that, that brings simple benefits of just making it a much slicker, more transparent supply-chain. Which allows the supply-chain to move faster.
Jonquil Hackenberg: But then with technology such as blockchain coupled with QR code technology, it allows end consumers to also have an insight or some view into that supply-chain. To prove that they can trust the knowledge that they've been told from the companies they're buying from. And I think that's what's very fascinating about the current world of technology that's emerging across dynamization of supply-chain.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So in the past, the biggest decisions an organization had to make was really do I used SAP, or do I use Oracle, for example. And now, there's myriad technologies out there. The question is, where do you even start? How do you get your biggest bang for your buck? How do you make the biggest difference and provide that transparency without losing your USP and your own internal secrets?
Jonquil Hackenberg: So I think it's important for organizations to understand where they need to invest. In terms of both process, but technology, to really give that transparency to the end consumer. Before doing that, is really ensuring that they have that transparency in turning their supplies.
Jeff Kavanaugh: And to determine that unique sowing proposition, it would be good to put you on the spot here. Maybe share an example, how has a company or a client actually gone through that decision process? And if you could give us some insight there.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Sure. So if you look at the cotton industry, for example. And this is a big area, obviously, for consumers. So fast fashion is now the most evil thing since sliced bread. That's the hottest soapbox in town in the fashion industry. So how do you prove both that the provenance of the cotton is both organic, and that the people throughout the supply-chain have commanded a fair wage? So fair-trade cotton. And the challenge is some high street brands focused on organic cotton, which is about origination of products. And so you have chains like H&M that focuses on organic cotton. Other supply-chain focus is very much in fair-trades, the treatments of people throughout the supply-chain. And less about the actual provenance of products.
Jonquil Hackenberg: And the challenge is, what is going to command the highest price for the end garment within the consumer market? Such that the cotton industry as a whole can then determine how they're going to focus on ... Where they should be focusing on intensive technology. Is it more on fair-trade cotton, or is it more on organic cotton? And this is a really simple example in a fairly complex industry, that can be replicated as a consideration across all types of industries.
Jonquil Hackenberg: For example, coffee is increasingly a commodity that is ... One can command a much higher price for organic coffee, or fair-trade coffee. But cocoa is not quite yet there. So it's really about consumer perception, as to how organizations are then designed to focus on a given product, or a given commodity, and investing accordingly.
Jeff Kavanaugh: When an executive starts down this path, what are the decisions they need to make? And maybe in which order, are the big decisions that then make those technology and process decisions a little bit easier?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Another brilliant question. What we're seeing, across consumer goods companies, across manufacturing companies, and [inaudible 00:13:59] commodities is, "Oh, block chain. This must be really important. Therefore, we must do the previous concept in blockchain." Without actually having landed on the use case, the problem they're trying to solve. So, my counsel would be to go back to basics, just like we used to do in the olden days. What is the business problem we're actually trying to solve? And then landing on the software, or the technology accordingly.
Jonquil Hackenberg: And it might be, if it's people talk about, "Oh, we need to have traceability in the supply-chain." Or, "Sustainability in the supply-chain." Traceability can be about provenance, or it can be about, as I mentioned, the value chain and the products, and the people and how they're treated. So that can be back to procurement, or it can be simple transparency within the own internal supply-chain. Or, when people talk about traceability, they might even be talking about returns of packaging, or a return of goods.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So, before embarking on anything, it's really, really important to understand which aspect of the supply-chain an organization is trying to solve. And only then working out actually, "Do we have the right data in place before we even embark upon new technologies? And, do we have the right processes in place? And do we need to change those things?" And then looking at the technologies afterwards.
Jeff Kavanaugh: That's one leg of the stool. Looks like that sustainable supply-chain, I like the distinguishing characteristic between organic and fair-trade. That's a good nuance. What about another area, as you think about, besides the product flowing, the people. As you're talking about the workflow, you said the organization of the future. What about your employees? Can you talk about their experience, and then you mentioned talent?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Yes. So if you take a natural flow, actually, on from that supply-chain is how can you be relevant? If you're focusing on how can you be more and more relevant to your end consumer, regardless of whether you're a B to B or a B to C company, the key is how you're going to structure your organization in the future so it's a lot more fluid.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So what we're witnessing is using predictive analytics and organizational analytics, how are organizations internally interacting? In a very different way than they did in the past. So, as an example, there would be conversations maybe internally within a department, and hence how a business unit got formed. If you take Infosys, we've always had engineer, and we've always had consulting. We've always had analytics, to a certain extent. And recently, we've heavily invested in design. Design and engineering, consulting, were three legs of the stool that we did never previously come together ten years ago. And now that's increasingly more relevant and prevalent, because that's what the consumer demands in terms of their end product to end service.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So what's really important is the organization that's going to succeed in the future is figuring out what skills do they have today versus what skills they have tomorrow? And what that talent gap is in the middle. And equally, how is that organization set up today versus how does it need to be set up tomorrow? Such that it can adjust to these market demands much more frequently. With the added complexity of introduction of automation into that organization.
Jonquil Hackenberg: And that's a very, very fascinating area that we're seeing. A lot of industries are focusing on whether that's financial services, oil and gas, or consumer goods.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Can you share an example of a company that's gone through bringing these different areas together with that thread of automation lurking beneath the surface?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Sure. So without naming a specific company, but a consumer goods company. Looking at how can we take our existing organization and increase employee productivity? Whilst actually minimizing carbon impact? So, for example, how do you reorganize the workplace of the future so that people are able to collaborate more easily online using, for example, Microsoft technologies. But also, how do you collaborate much more easily physically? And that doesn't mean we need to get rid of all individualized compartments or units, and everything needs to be open plan. But there's very much a drive towards how are we able to collaborate on the Cloud and physically?
Jonquil Hackenberg: And if you then extrapolate that in so a bit further, how do you re-skill people so that they can fit into those new skills, and into much more agile, flexible organization? The example I wanted to give was with that backdrop in mind, how then do you maximize an employee who's arriving onsite, either in the normal place of work, or visiting campus? And such that the moment they walk through the door, they're able to be productive. So that whole use of technology around automated assignment of hot desks based upon building capacity. Automated assignment of car parking spaces. Wi-fi access. Vouchers for lunch. All of the things that just take so much time is really, really key in how you then design a workplace both physically and digitally. And how those two worlds merge together.
Jeff Kavanaugh: In the example you gave, who in the company was responsible for that?
Jonquil Hackenberg: So that's often a driver from two places. One is HR, if it's a fairly forward thinking organization. HR is already looking at analytics of their organization and how influences within the organization, how departments are interacting in a different way than they used to before. So HR is often a buyer and a driver in that scenario.
Jonquil Hackenberg: But also, the business itself. So that could be within supply-chains, or it could be the office of the CIO. And, I guess, CIOs now are so intrinsically linked, and working so closely with the business, that it needs to be ... Technology is a seamless part of the business. And any CIO worth their salt ... And should there be an organization of CIO office of the future? They very much need to design such working environments such that they remain relevant as well.
Jeff Kavanaugh: That's a whole other discussion, isn't it? The CIO as the utility manager, or as the leader of the entire company. Yeah, depending on the approach they take. The reason I bring that up is HR typically has been in the woodwork. They've been support, invisible. The only time you hear about HR is when you don't want to hear about HR. Situations come up, compliance issues. So can you mention maybe for that HR executive, or chief Human Resources officer, what that transition is for her, for him, as they step into this workplace of the future?
Jonquil Hackenberg: You know, I think the role of HR is so increasingly important and relevant, and I think it was a Harvard Business Review publication recently. It could be last year. Which talked about the role of the CHRO, and how it's almost the third most important role in the organization after the CEO, CFO, and then the CHRO. For exactly the reason that this talent strategy is going to be really key to the survival of the organization of the future.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So many organizations we talk to, or I've spoken to, all want to hire a thousand digital, talented people. And this is a mythical beast that doesn't necessarily exist in such large population. Certainly to work one organization. So the answer lies somewhere between that HR and that CHRO and the HR department, figuring out that talent gap. And out of that talent gap, what absolutely needs to be hired in versus where can re-skilling take place? And how can that be done quickly, consistently, and sustainably.
Jeff Kavanaugh: And you mentioned the talent gap, so maybe it makes sense to transition to that. You mentioned the unicorn. I want to say unicorn so I said it. You mentioned the mythical beast people are looking for, all these hundreds and thousands of people that have these digital skills. They're deep, lots of experience, and could instantly help them. You very rightly bring up that doesn't exist. I mean, you can hire them in ones or twos. It sounds like that creating this group, training, developing, although it takes some time, might be one answer. Can you talk about how companies ... What you're seeing right now? What seeing now for companies, how they're addressing this talent gap?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Take Infosys as an example in itself. So we have, of course, our University. It's the largest corporate University globally. And we've recently digitalized that. So we made that available online, so the concept of always unlearning, such that you're able to study with your peers, and across the globe anytime, anywhere. And using gamification techniques, introducing some element of fun and collaboration, such that it's not just learning in isolation. And that's certainly having a lot of success in terms of a general concept.
Jonquil Hackenberg: I think the other bit that's really important in the talent strategy is traditionally, organizations have tried to solve a problem on their own for their consumer. Because they believe that that's their USP. But actually, the successful organizations of future will be ones who work out how to partner and use an ecosystem. So really getting down to, and designing, a target operating [inaudible 00:24:00] of the future, what is absolutely core to our business? What is absolutely our USP? Versus what is non-core. And then looking for partners, then devise an ecosystem of suppliers, that then can compliment those non-core skills. Supplemented by automation using. For example, chatbot for menial tasks.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So that whole organizational redesign, to figure out what's absolutely critical to your USP and your organization. And focusing on really skilling that internally, and hiring for that internally. Versus exporting and partnering, is absolutely critical. Which is why the CHRO is going to be front and center of any future successful organization.
Jeff Kavanaugh: When you think of a company, or you think of companies that have done this successfully, who are one or two that come to mind?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Microsoft and Google. I think the whole fang gang of how they're really looking to expand beyond their traditional boundaries. So when there was the acquisition of Nest. Like, "Well, why are they buying Nest? Why does a home thermostat, why does that play into the core business of the future?" Looking at Amazon and Google, and how they're kind of reinventing themselves consistently and continuously is really fascinating.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Then Unilever is also one to watch out for. How they're really transforming themselves in terms of talent. How they're ... They've set themselves a goal, I think, on a 50/50 male and female hiring. I think they're almost there, I think they're at 48 percent and 52 percent, from memory. And it's really incredible to see, as a result of that, how they're able to grown and make themselves available to a much wider talent pool for the future. Rather than focusing on any 50 percent of the population.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So those are some of the really big players that we can look to. And for ideas on how to reinvent and continuously drive forward. Microsoft too, as well.
Jeff Kavanaugh: It's interesting because Unilever is no digital start-up. They've been around for a year or two, or a decade, or a century, right? And, I really appreciate that example because while it's one thing to dismiss a Google to say, "Well, that's them. That's one of a small handful of these digital natives that don't really apply to the rest of us." I think Unilever is a good example of something that is a company that makes a product everyone uses in every country, everyday. And they've gone through these cycles through their management.
Jeff Kavanaugh: I remember a study, or also a case on building an insights engine. That Unilever basically wrote or was the subject of, several years ago. And so, an example of good leadership, good management, continuing to think about what's coming. And perhaps some of those insights pointed to doing what you just mentioned. That's very insightful.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Yeah. I think they're really ... I think they're quite an inspirational company in terms of how they're trying to use their size to address sustainable challenges. And, global population challenges. And also diversity and inclusion in the workplace challenges. And that's not easy. It's much easier to buy a very locally sourced product to know exactly where it came from. That that bar of soap was made ethically. And really they're doing everything they can in their power to make their supply chain, and their organization, as transparent as possible. And I think that's very interesting to see how that will play out over the future.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Yes. I remember at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, some of their executives were prominent. Including over at the equality lounge. Speaking on what they're doing to make sure that that ratio of 50/50 is achieved soon. And I think the implied ... That's worth bringing up as well is the leadership gap. It's what people making the decisions and driving that, where the investments are going. I think that also is broadening their perspective. And they're leading the way in that area as well.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, such as their hashtag on stereotype, which is kicked off by Unilever. And by Paul Polman and also Keith Weed. And then they brought in P&G and so forth. So, that whole advertising campaign, which really changed the perspective of gender-biased sales. And marketing and advertising, was one area. And then in just in terms of some strategies they've adopted around how do you get to the point of 50/50? And if you're applying for a job and let's say 100 men apply for a job, and only 10 women, the point of interview, only 10 ... There's only 10 males CVs and 10 females CVs that are being considered. Then suddenly, it's a level playing field at the point that the interviews begin.
Jonquil Hackenberg: And I think that's a very, very interesting strategy that just starts to help level out the playing field at all levels within the organization.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Good point. This all sounds great, and it sounds very doable. Can you share a story though where, an example where, a company really struggled with this? And maybe, what wall they hit, and how they overcame it? Because I think people listening to this, everyone's in the middle of some kind of transformation. Either as an individual, or they're leading one in the company. And, when you hit a wall, what are some lessons from the battlefield that you can share?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Yeah. So, okay. So let's talk about workplace transformation as a whole. I think some of the challenges is monetizing the impact of making such an investment in technologies to bring your employees to the Cloud. So that they're fully independent of physical devices, and they can literally operate anytime, anywhere. And also, the physical workplace, how would you transform your campus or your office building such that it's 100 percent sustainable?
Jonquil Hackenberg: The challenge is that the business cases, and even worse, there might be a real drive to make that happen. And a desire to have the coolest place to work in, is really saying, "Well it's not just about being cool. It's about how do you measure employee productivity? How do you measure your carbon footprints, and ergo your savings accordingly, in terms of how much office space you're using?" But also, it's about staff advocacy. So less about, I think, really the dial of how this can really make a sizeable difference. It's not about measuring employee satisfaction anymore, which is largely, often, fairly one-dimensional, and around salary. It's about staff advocacy. So very much moving from passive to active. Like, "Would I recommend that you come and work for my organization based upon X, Y, and Z?" Rather than, "Are you happy working in your workplace?"
Jonquil Hackenberg: So I think if organizations are able to measure and continue to measure, part of their business case, employee productivity, staff advocacy, and then the whole carbon reduction impact, that's a huge area that shows both cost savings, in terms of recruitment or re-recruitment, or re-skilling. Because you're losing people. And also, in terms of having the best and brightest who are then reflective of your consumer population, as we talked about in the beginning.
Jonquil Hackenberg: I think those three KPIs are extremely important to make any workplace transformation a success.
Jeff Kavanaugh: It's interesting, because when you mentioned going from employee satisfaction to advocacy, I had this image of Net Promoter Score for your employees.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Right. Spot on.
Jeff Kavanaugh: That's a fairly simple recalibration, but it may not be easy. Because again, do Human Resource executives, and senior executives of companies, really want to hear these statistics? It's like a before and after commercial. The before could be wonderful when the after is done, but the beginning you can cringe. At the same time, you've got to know where you are. And I think ignoring it wouldn't help. And it's an interesting point you bring up. Making sure that the employee tests and surveys are polling for the right things. Not just questions that you can analyze, but things that are useful, that you can actually build upon.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Jeff Kavanaugh: In addition, stirring up a little bit of controversy here, you mentioned carbon footprint impact. Reduction to impact. This could be a school of thought that says, "Well, one way to reduce carbon footprint is more automation. Especially software automation and less people." What is that balance that you're seeing with your clients? On the one hand, with maybe carbon reduction, and then also the productivity. And the other, just the human talent aspect itself?
Jonquil Hackenberg: What we're seeing in terms of settling some way to move in the right direction in that regard is using design thinking to basically re-think a process. So for example, let's take onboarding of a new employee. How can you redesign the process, and look at which aspects of that process need to be more human versus less human? And then the less human aspects can then be automated. And that's then prime candidates for chatbot.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So a tangible example, on joining a new organization, I need to provide my next of kin, national insurance number, my bank details, all of those things. That typically any large organization, or even small, you're filling out a piece of paper multiple times, and maybe it might be an online form. But there's no reason why that has to be done in such a manual way. That's prime candidacy for a chatbot. And that then frees up time for, for example, an HR officer to spend time on actually inducting that individual into the organization. So that they can be more productive more quickly, and that they feel much more at home more quickly.
Jonquil Hackenberg: And so those are some of the aspects, in terms of how you are able to really look at that whole employee productivity space. In terms of sustainability, it's kind of a two-edged sword. So you're right, for sure, chat bots, one chatbot, by pure inference, can replace three people. By the simple mathematical calculation that there's no tire shift, and it can work 24/7, right? So that's one way of looking at it.
Jonquil Hackenberg: On the flip side, if you look at a lot of technology that has not yet been automized, such as block-chain, actually there's one school of thought that's saying, "Because you're replicating the same data myriad times, then you actually having a larger carbon footprint than you would do normally." So there's lots of different ways of looking at the same problem through different lenses. But I think definitely, looking at how you can apply redesign of a process with the simple, more human, versus less human kind of calculation is definitely one way to go.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Good. And I look forward to clearer and clearer metrics so we can all make sense of this. I think you had done some work in this area with the UN and World Economic Forum. Any comments from your recent presentations and work on those councils?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Yeah. So one very fascinating session, I was presenting at the World Economic Forum, Sustainability Impact Summit in New York last year. And we were talking about emerging technologies, and how they can solve some of these sustainability challenges. And when is the right point in time to introduce such technologies? And I was lucky enough to have a co-presenter, Leanne Kemp, who works in the diamond industry. She works for a company, she's the CEO actually, of Everledger. And, they are effective using blockchain solution for the diamond industry.
Jonquil Hackenberg: And what she pointed out, using the diamond industry and blockchain, is a brilliant example for other industries to understand. Was that several things came together which has made it a success. Blockchain and that type of technology's success in diamonds. Number one, the mining is predominately concentrated in Africa. Number two, the consumer or the retail is predominately concentrated in Amsterdam, or certainly in Europe. And number three, there was a crisis. And the crisis was the blood diamonds, it was the whole Leonardo DiCaprio film, which highlighted all of those things.
Jonquil Hackenberg: And, the key message in all of that was you need almost that concentration of supplier strike, manufacturer, and concentration of consumer. And a crisis. For all three things to come together, in order to demand a high speed reaction, in terms of a solution based in terms of process, of transparency, and also technology that can be commonly used.
Jonquil Hackenberg: And what we talked about is that some industries are just not there yet, and that's why blockchain seems so foreign. And so therefore, there's other technologies and other solutions that could potentially solve some aspects or challenges to a supply-chain. Such as a simple QR code, which you can scan, and understand what the last port of call was before the product arrived for you. And there's also even simpler things. For example, in farming, where you're just following simple process and quality assurance checks, that perhaps aren't in place today. So it really depends upon maturity of industry, concentration of supplier and consumer, and that crisis that really put where you need to be in terms of how far you explore down the line of technologies to solves these kind of challenges.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Fascinating. And I think that it's a great example. That people can relate to. Speaking to a manager or a leader out there who's going through this, any words of wisdom? Any things to think about that you would call out as your top two or three items?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Yeah. I'd say it's very, very easy and quite scary to get caught up in all the jargon. And, myriad technologies that are out there. And, I think it's okay to say, "I don't know what you're talking about, I don't even understand what this technology is." And just really strip it back to basics, to say, "Actually, what's the business problem we're trying to solve?" Rather than panicking about creating several proofs of concept at 50 to 200 thousand dollars a pop, just to understand how to spell a technology.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So it's about not being afraid to say, "I don't understand what the technology is about." It's about going back to basics around, "What's my business problem?" And it's also about going back to basics around people and what people do I need to make my business work? And what can then be automated? Or how can I then leverage technology to enhance that skill gap?
Jeff Kavanaugh: Great words of wisdom. What is your favorite or most shared, recommended, book? It can be business or personal, that you've been sharing recently?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Oh. So a couple of really good books I'm reading. I read recently a book called Eastern Approaches, which I've recommended to many people across the globe. It's by Sir Fitzroy Maclean. So he was a chap in the 1930s who actually James Bond was modeled on him. So he worked for the foreign office, and was stationed all over. But in Russia during kind of '36 to '40, so during the whole Stalin trials. And then he worked in Africa when there was the whole turn of tide, in terms of the war. And he also worked in Yugoslavia with Tito. So, hugely fascinating man. It was less about the outcome of the war, and just really his drive and passion for pushing his limits.
Jonquil Hackenberg: What I love about the book is when he had his days off in Moscow, bearing in mind this is the 1930s. He'd see how far he could get into Central Asia before he either A, got kicked out, or B, had to return to go to his job. And I just find that pushing your boundaries, and just looking to explore new cultures and new things is really ... I think it's a wonderful way to live life. And really to keep pushing yourself to learn something new everyday. So I love that book, I think that's brilliant.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Thank you so much for your time. And before we go, how can people find you online? How can they see what you've published and find you?
Jonquil Hackenberg: You can find me on LinkedIn, and most of my articles are published there. So Jonquil Hackenberg, I think there's only one of them on LinkedIn, so that's the best way to reach me.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time, Jonquil.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Thanks so much Jeff, I enjoyed it.
About Jonquil Hackenberg
Jonquil leads the C-Suite Advisory practice for Infosys Consulting Europe which focusses on digitalization of the back office, specifically supply chain, operations and organisations. She has extensive cross-industry expertise in employee experience and digitalization of the HR function; global supply chain management and sustainability – and the organisational change effort all this entails. Currently Jonquil primarily works with Consumer Goods clients although she is brought into other industries as an expert in deep-seated organizational change for these areas. Jonquil is a regular contributor to Forbes and has represented Infosys on the BBC World Service.
A passionate advocate of sustainability, life-long learning and diversity within the workplace and as a keen sailor, Jonquil loves to mentor ocean technology start-ups; Jonquil lectures at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin; head up the Diversity and Inclusion agenda for Infosys Consulting in Europe and; represents Infosys at the World Economic Forum Sustainability Summit on emerging technology in support of sustainable supply chains; sustainable workforces and workplaces.
- Connect with Jonquil Hackenberg: LinkedIn
- Eastern Approaches – Book by Fitzray Maclean
Selected links from the episode