I was reading the newspaper recently and stumbled across an article about Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry, who transformed the old-fashioned British icon into a symbol of global luxury. She received $60 million as a signing bonus to join Apple as the head of its physical and online retail experience.
Why would they do this?
Well, Apple wants to re-establish their reputation as a global luxury brand. They know that to make the next big thing in technology – which they clearly expect to be wearable technology as evidenced by their reported $3.2 billion deal with Beats Electronics – take off, it needs to be fashionable. You don’t look cool wearing your iHeadset or iWatch, you won’t wear an iHeadset or iWatch — period.
Put simply, Ahrendts brings both her retail experience and fashion sense. Her expertise is important because people care about their personal brand, and nobody wants to damage it by wearing something unstylish. Google Glass is a great example as to how a technology brand can struggle to create something that would be fashionable, trendy and cool rather than nerdy and weird. Actually, Google had to team up with stylish glassware brands like Oakley, Ray-Ban and Luxottica to improve their frame design.
Benefits management technology is following a trend similar to wearable technology, though, I believe, we are further ahead on the curve. Today’s benefit technology platforms provide companies with the opportunity to enhance their personal brand by offering a user experience that makes them look “fashionable” — cool, innovative, trendy — to their new and existing employees.
Benefit technology has become more engaging, intuitive and informative with slick visuals and language that helps employees better understand the benefits and total reward available to them. For example, many businesses are seeing the value of investing in technology and processes that streamline the onboarding experience for their employees. Some businesses like visual computing company NVIDIA use tactics like onboarding-in-a-box, wherein new hires are given tablets or USBs containing all of the forms and applications necessary to enrol in their benefits. Efficiency in onboarding processes can plant the seeds for cultivating future brand ambassadors.
Today’s benefit technologies also have a look and feel that is similar to the consumer technology that employees use at home, and many are mobile optimised and incorporate text messages or online video guides. An engaging smartphone and tablet-friendly portal that employees can access anytime and anywhere helps reinforce employee interaction, participation and engagement with your brand. And workplace technology that is perceived as ‘cool’ and ‘cutting edge’ among your employees will help position your brand as an industry leader that invests in its resources.
I believe that over time, all companies will use benefit technology to make sure that their employees have a fantastic, modern and innate experience when they enrol in, interact and understand their benefits. Any company that does not hop on board will be about as stylish as a spotted brown cravat.
And you don’t have to be Angela Ahrendts to know that would be unfashionable.