One of our core offerings at Deloitte Digital is Digital ERP (enterprise resource planning). In our latest Q&A, you can learn more about the global lead of our Digital ERP offering, Jaco Van Eeden.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Jaco Van Eeden: To me, the most exciting part of this job is being able to think and operate in a creative manner, much like an entrepreneur. In this profession, you have the privilege of working with a variety of companies and industries with different working environments, unique business operations and cultures. What is truly rewarding is being able to walk into these situations (where at times, a certain way of operating has been the norm for years) and challenging existing assumptions and rules of how things work (which is often a difficult conversation), with innovative ideas that can impact the organization and how the people of that organization operate.

Another distinct feature of this job is being able to step outside the traditional ERP or enterprise systems way of thinking. Rather than focusing on the system first, we often focus on the people that make the organization run, making them the center of attention with solutions that can make work more simple, productive, and enjoyable.

I enjoy working with a group of highly motivated, cross-functional, and skilled team of professionals, who have a passion for implementing innovation and change while taking on challenges head-on. The folks in this practice are multi-faceted and have a good mix of creative, process, and technology know-how.

What are some important things a company should learn in order to survive and thrive in the digital revolution?

JVE: Up to today, companies have been focused on the flow of information and process. Before advances in technology, perhaps this was the correct approach. However, tomorrow’s world of almost anyone being able to connect to data through an app on a mobile device from just about anywhere may require realignment in thinking.

In my view, there is a gap today between how employees work, interact and use information, and what the systems can provide them. The current process-centric systems mostly cater to a broad user base, rather than being targeted to the specific user and what that user needs to be better at their job. This process-centric approach can result in the user having to work within the confines of the system, performing multiple clicks and queries, or at times having to run multiple screens at the same time to get the job done. This can have a negative effect on that user’s productivity and can lead to a poor experience with the system. The mobile knowledge worker may not be productive operating in this manner and companies should understand this going forward.

To address this disconnect in the organization and adapt to future trends, companies should think differently by focusing on a user-down rather than a system-up approach of designing productivity tools. The solutions should mimic the natural work flow that the user performs. This could require the screens and data elements to be presented in such a manner that a new user can perform their work with a reduced learning curve. Essentially, the solution should be an extension of the work that a mobile worker performs in the language they understand. Let’s face it, there can be a large amount of capability and functionality available in an ERP system that can take years to understand how it works. Users may not be able to take advantage of this information because it can be difficult to access, analyze, and apply to their daily operations.

How can companies implement effective change when implementing their digital strategy?

JVP: Change comes by way of a vision, its adoption and ownership. Typical organizations can try to address this with some operational strategy, new system implementation, more training, communications, and change management. However, in a digital world, we believe that a digital experience platform should challenge the existing user experience assumptions, the reasons things are done in a certain way, and the old way of thinking. Organizations should first articulate a new vision of the “art-of-the-possible”, for a business function and user group that could benefit from intuitive and improved usability on their desktops and mobile devices. I find that using a prototype can help encourage executives to think differently and can align the organization towards a new goal.

Change in the organization can be achieved easier if the new solution is easy to use and help business users be better at their jobs. It is important that the user interface be intuitive and memorable enough that the user can learn and use it with ease. To achieve this, you need a user centric approach that involves the intended user in the design. Unlike traditional ERP implementations, where we gather requirements and come back with a solution later, the digital solution and strategy are more user-focused, collaborative, hands-on, and iterative in nature. With end-user involvement, you can create an emotional attachment to the solution, and thus can also establish a sense of ownership. At the deployment of the solution, the end user may require less training, because the solution is likely an extension of that user’s role.

In your opinion, what makes Deloitte Digital different [from other digital shops out there]?

JVE: What makes us different is that our competitors are focusing on platforms and technologies, and the management of those solutions, We have those capabilities too. However, our differentiator is taking the focus beyond the technology to creative design combined with emphasis on user engagement. Our approach to user engagement can bring a balanced blend of creativity, business process improvements, and leading practices.

What are your passions outside of work?

JVE: When it comes to sports, I enjoy the game of golf and playing cricket with our USI colleagues. When I’m not playing, then I’m watching Rugby and Moto-X, having participated in my younger and wilder days. I also enjoy camping and hiking with family and friends. However, going back to my South African roots, nothing beats the adventure of an African safari!