By Sarfraz Ali, Vice President and Head of EMEA at Smartsheet
Innovation, the search for new, impactful ideas, is at the core of every modern leader’s lexicon. Successful businesses have made the pursuit of innovation their highest priority, however, in today’s macro-economic climate it’s more difficult to invest in creative, tech-savvy teams whose main job is to deliver new ideas at an organisation-wide level.
So how can leaders encourage and spur new thinking while remaining fiscally responsible? An often overlooked but critical area organisations should focus on is their existing, wider workforce. We commonly think of innovation as lofty, overarching ideas that spur company-wide change, but many smaller changes together can similarly create a collectively big impact. And who knows more about what opportunities an organisation has to become more efficient and effective than those on the front lines?
To tap into employees’ collective potential, and create lasting and meaningful impact, it is critical to involve everyone, at every level, and that can be done by removing barriers through the use of no-code technology.
Empowering the workforce with Innovation
No-code tools or platforms let employees create processes and solve problems without having to learn how to write code. With its low barrier of entry, it enables staff to develop workflows and systems without assistance from IT.
From here, companies can then tap into the lived experience of their workers, who are often an underutilised resource. This opens the gates for solutions and practices previously unexplored while empowering employees and helping them feel involved in the business while creating impact.
For example, Sonnedix, a renewable energy producer specialising in solar plants, empowered its employees to create a solution to best support how to safely return to the office after the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially they created a simple sheet for colleagues to book in office days with a checkbox, which then quickly evolved into a QR code capability enabling colleagues to ‘log in’ to the office using their phones to scan the code. This then further evolved into a dashboard and travel widgets to provide real-time information and data, from sources such as Transport for London, so that employees could confidently reach the office while minimising their risk of infection.
By using a no-code platform, Sonnedix tapped its employees, allowing them to create new processes that reflect real-world scenarios while boosting their productivity and creating greater engagement in work tasks.
Relieving stressed IT teams
Although empowering employees with the freedom to experiment with no-code technology and drive innovation is the ultimate goal, there are also some fringe benefits to the approach. In an ever more digital world, no code technology helps to take some responsibility and pressure away from often overstretched IT teams and programmers.
No-code tools are simple to use by design and require little guidance from IT teams, which means time spent developing and supporting individual team projects can be reallocated to larger digital transformation projects (which in turn drive larger-scale innovation).
Of course, even with no-code technology it is important to ensure any solutions used or created adhere to the internal security and governance frameworks that IT teams work so hard to manage. However, when implemented properly, adopting no-code technology is a win-win situation that allows employees to create and leaves IT professionals free to concentrate on more strategic tasks.
But what’s next?
The future is bright for businesses employing technological transformations, including no-code. Embracing this technology at scale enables leaders to provide their workforce with the resources they need to constructively drive growth and innovation. In an era where companies are battling with the economic downturn and employees are more inclined to leave roles they feel do not offer them growth opportunities or an ability to connect with their work, that makes a difference.
By tapping into the depths of human ingenuity and creativity stored within their people, businesses can drive innovation at a grassroots level, stand out in the market amongst peers, and gain a more efficient and motivated workforce.