Arnowitz Culture Agency: Culture of Performance in the Digital Age
With technology taking center stage in enterprises across diverse industries, it’s not enough to keep atop of emerging technologies but to keep ahead of them. CIOs are more than willing to accommodate the growing demands of their colleagues, who seek state-of-the-art tools to gain the slightest market edge on the technological front. So vast is the list of necessities that core platforms such as Salesforce (sales/marketing), HubSpot (marketing), Oracle (enterprise planning and accounting), and Workday (human resources) are layered and integrated with scores of other SaaS-based services.
However, besides the benefits and immense value they bring to the table, new technologies come with their fair share of challenges.
For starters, infusion of technologies has unearthed a rapid flurry of data that enterprises have trouble digesting, let alone act upon. In other words, they are unable to optimize their technology investments fully. In addition, the SaaS-based service model has bred contextual chaos in communication systems of organizations, splintering the “single harmony” they once shared. Unlike during the pre-cloud applications era, when companies could utilize collaboration software, ERP systems, and integrate all the tools into an on-premise architecture, today’s organizations struggle to collaborate efficiently. Sales teams use tools like Salesforce Chatter or Skype to communicate, but tech teams might utilize Slack or Jira to do the same.
The evident decline in the level of employee engagement (or worse, engaging in the wrong things) has also given rise to cultural differences between internal departments according to David Arnowitz, co-founder and chief technology and strategy officer of Arnowitz Culture Agency (ACA), a globally renowned employee engagement solution provider. “Before the arrival of SaaS-based services, organizations had well-thought-out communication channels. Today, different departments and systems don’t talk to each other anymore. Their priorities vary, their goals aren’t necessarily aligned, and they don’t support and sometimes don’t even understand one another,” he says.
Without setting their house in order, as it pertains to employee engagement, enterprises are bound to create significant impediments to their customer journey. While investments are being made into enhancing customer journeys, employee engagement remains relatively neglected, an aspect that can negatively affect the bottom line of enterprises. Alas, CIOs realize employee engagement can no longer be ignored. However, technical solutions—survey tools, collaboration tools, training systems—all have signification onboarding, adoption, engagement, and reporting issues and costs.
ACA offers a turnkey culture solution that acts as a hub that brings together all the necessary tools and services—no additional IT resources, support services, or staff is required. Arnowitz explains, “We take a holistic approach to solving all the pain points associated with employee engagement. We do not offer our clients just a tool, but rather a solution to create and sustain the habit changes their cultures require.”
The holistic solution is designed to align the employee and customer journeys. “We built the solution with the strong belief that providing data to people is not enough—they must have the habits to act and collaborate on the data. Without employees being engaged in the right things at the right time, it’s impossible to marry technologies into business practices,” adds Arnowitz.
Before delving into the feature sets of ACA’s flagship platform, it’s imperative to understand the factors that gave birth to the employee engagement solution. During their inaugural years, ACA realized that their programs were successful in the short-term but did not sustain long-term performance gains in organizations. “We had to find a way to build a solution that could sustain and ultimately accelerate performance outcomes within corporate cultures,” recalls Arnowitz.
ACA sought to develop an engagement platform to guide employees toward behaviors that would improve individual, team, and organizational performance. In 2010, the Arnowitz Culture Engine (ACE) platform was born. The ACE Platform is a first-of-a-kind employee engagement solution that is made up of four components: 1) a SaaS-based cloud technology, 2) curation services, 3) moderation services, and 4) editorial services.
When a client wants to purchase just the technology, we believe it’s a failing solution. The evidence from our programs over the last ten years points to the need for all four pieces of the puzzle to work together.
While the technology aspect enables the creation of virtual global communities and encourages peer-to-peer experiences, the three services are “gears” that drive the engagement campaigns and desired performance outcomes.
When asked if the solution could exist as a “technology only solution,” Arnowitz is quick to point out that all four components are equally critical to an effective, sustaining employee engagement solution. “When a client wants to purchase just the technology, we recommend the total holistic solution. The evidence from our more successful programs over the last ten years points to the need for all four elements to work together to make the machine work.” The services are needed to overcome many of the problems of organic unmoderated social networks. These networks can devolve into either vast piles of unactionable content or worse, damaging whining and complaint parties with no constructive conversations.
ACA services enable behavior change of people and organizations by running campaigns that have four distinct stages: 1) awareness, 2) engagement, 3) impact; and 4) iteration. These campaigns work like Couch to 5k runner training apps, that build habits and improve performance with simple to follow weekly plans, activities, feedback, and rewards. This journey-based approach allows enterprises to have a framework for creating “doable bite-sized actions in sprints.” These actions can be measured over time, combine small milestones with brief peer-level education and measurement for insights. Arnowitz believes this approach gives ACA’s clients exciting opportunities to look forward to, “The campaigns can support various objectives. For example, an organization may want to improve Agile business processes, communication capabilities, culture values, or enhance innovation habits. We track each of the campaigns using a set of metrics and thereby tracking the progress of user improvement and impact on business outcomes. We let them know whether they’re progressing or regressing, similar to simple 5k training apps.” Each user is measured for quantity and quality of participation and correlation to business outcomes. The Arnowitz Culture Engine’s Big Data technology stack can ingest data sets from other corporate sources (e.g., Workday, corporate customer service scores, etc.) to create dashboards for a wide variety of outcome analysis.
To illustrate how ACA helps drive cultural change for clients is a real-life success story involving 100-year-old hospitality icon, Hilton Hotels and Resorts. In 2012, after 18 months of using the ACE solution across his 550 hotels worldwide, Dave Horton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts Global Head proclaimed, “we now have an unprecedented ability to successfully engage our global team members with our Brand essence and strategic initiatives across diverse countries, cultures, and communities at every level. It’s a game-changer.” The Hilton Global Community continues to this day, now with over 21,225,000 page views, over 82,000 ‘opt-in’ users from 100+ countries and scores of industry awards. The Community members have shared (and ACA services have moderated and curated) more than 1,000,000 culture performance-focused stories, photos, videos, and comments.
More impressive was the powerful impact the Culture Engine Platform had on Hilton business performance in customer service scores, RevPAR (revenue per room), and earnings. In 2014, Bob Brooks, Vice President, Global Culture and Strategic Initiatives at Hilton Hotels and Resorts stated, “With our H360 Global Community, we’ve harnessed this power to create a worldwide, user-generated cultural cohesion that is powering business performance and stronger results. As a long-time industry veteran, it is truly breath-taking.”
Burt Arnowitz, CEO of Arnowitz Culture Agency, explains, “Underlying Hilton’s culture change strategy was their core hypothesis: the way to advance Hilton Hotels’ performance was to unify Brand and Culture into one globally integrated organization with a shared vision for success. We were honored to be selected to utilize our ACE solution to help make that happen – gaining traction worldwide, with great success in a remarkably short time.”
Ten years later, Hilton Hotels & Resorts remains an ACE Platform client and ACA strategic partner. The Hilton Global Community has continued to evolve, grow, and thrive, joined by 17 other Global Brands utilizing ACA’s Culture Engine solution. “This longevity and success,” according to co-founder and CTO, David Arnowitz, “is due to our close partnership with our clients, helping them to implement important initiative campaigns, achieve KPI targets and providing relevant metrics tracking to improve business performance through behavior and culture change continuously.”
"We built the solution with the strong belief that providing data to people is not enough—they must have the habits to act and collaborate on the data"
The ACE Platform has evolved new features and services to adapt to the changing communication, learning, and collaboration Improvements demanded by Hilton’s changing performance requirements. David Arnowitz explains, “Our technology and service stacks continue to evolve with innovations in Big Data and AI, improving our programs and scaling ability. This helps us to deliver even more effective campaigns, user content moderation and curation enabling us to track successfully with our client’s performance expectations.”