By Stacey Epstein
By 2020, IDC predicts that mobile and remote workers will account for nearly 72 percent of the U.S. workforce. Communication practices need to be flexible enough for the modern worker. Deskless workers have little access to computers so traditional methods of communication like email are ill equipped. Nearly everyone—and especially millennials, who now make up the largest share of the American workforce according to PEW Research—has a phone and is eager to use mobile in the workplace, as long as the transition is seamless.
Mobile tools built for the enterprise are diversified and capable of streamlining every aspect of an organization—from customer service to team communication—and the market for such tools continues to grow. The research firm Market and Markets estimates that the enterprise collaboration market will grow from $26.69 billion in 2016 to $49.51 billion by 2021—a compound annual growth rate of 13.2 percent. IDC predicts that the Cognitive Systems and artificial intelligence (AI) market—including hardware and services—will grow from $8B in 2016 to $47B in 2020, attaining a compound annual growth rate of 55 percent. The expansion of mobile enterprise applications (apps) provides much-needed solutions—revolutionizing the way teams collaborate with one another, the way projects are planned and managed, and the future of work.
Communication is the Cornerstone of Success
Employees need to connect to each other, to management, and to the broader organization to succeed in their jobs. When workers are fully informed and can reference the collective knowledge of their teams, customer satisfaction rates go up and workflows become streamlined. There is no shortage of enterprise communications platforms to choose from, but when considering the best fit for your organization, remember to think beyond the desk. Deskless workers need easy access to the knowledge and content stored in enterprise systems.
For successful adoption that drives business results, mobile communication platforms must be comprehensive, intuitive, and secure.
Comprehensive platforms are important. The quick shift to mobile in the last decade has left workers relying on multiple apps and tools for workplace communication, according to a Zogby survey on deskless workers. They’ll check email for correspondence from managers, chat apps for quick conversations with coworkers, and video conferencing apps for meetings. If a company-wide communication standard is going to be efficient, it needs to be comprehensive and all-mode, including voice, text, video, photo and file-sharing—all in one solution.
Intuitive platforms are also essential. Similarly, organizations want easy-to-adopt communication software. Mobile apps built for the enterprise need to feature a well-designed UI, allowing smartphones to transition from personal life to workplace without interruption. If the software isn’t easy to use or attractive to workers, they’ll continue to use a variety of non-secure apps to get the information they need.
Platforms must also be secure and managed. A comprehensive and intuitive communications app is not truly built for the enterprise unless it prioritizes security and administration. In the absence of a uniform communication strategy, the adoption of rogue apps and platforms lead to serious security concerns.
Scheduling employees and managing deadlines can be the nuts and bolts of an employer’s day-to-day. This is necessary, but cumbersome. Similar to workers trying to stay in the loop, managers often switch between multiple platforms and apps to manage the different aspects of each project. The back and forth is time consuming and ineffective, especially considering that each task is related to its counterparts—i.e. you can’t know how many workers to schedule unless you know your budget or the scope of the job.
The most successful enterprise platforms for workflow and project management combine multiple tools in easy-to-use apps. One way is to keep things simple. Use one platform for planning and the other for completing the project at hand.
For planning, budgeting, scheduling, and other administrative tasks are necessary for a smooth start to a new venture. Having everything organized in one app means you and your team can stay in the loop while on the go. Mobile enterprise apps position everything at your fingertips, offering intuitive spreadsheet interfaces for budget management, time logging, and expense tracking.
To complete a project, even when it has been planned with precision, workers still end up switching from platform to platform to manage inventory, track product, and monitor and edit customer orders. Mobile enterprise apps have combined every step of supply chain management to ensure that orders are fulfilled and inventory is stocked without information being lost in the process.
Enterprise tools that encompass scheduling, budgeting, expense tracking, time management, and more eliminate unnecessary bulk in planning and executing work each day. Although these tasks seem daunting to tackle on a mobile interface, plenty of enterprise platforms have made the transition easy with intuitive UI and expanding capabilities.
AI is a growing investment being adopted across nearly every industry vertical. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2019, startups will overtake industry giants like Amazon, Google, and IBM in developing AI to drive disruptive business solutions.
In the enterprise, AI will offer the largest impact when it comes to customer-facing roles and processes such as sales and services, as this tech has the ability to learn and replicate patterns, effectively taking repetitive tasks off of employee’s plates. The number of ways AI can learn and impact the enterprise is yet to be determined, but natural language processing and speech recognition are leading the charge.
In regard to natural language processing, mobile AI software is becoming increasingly targeted at direct customer interactions, and natural language processing is what powers things like virtual assistants and chatbots. For enterprises, this tech is used for mobile app customer support, and enables employees to focus their time and energy on more complex and demanding tasks.
Speech recognition software is becoming more prevalent on mobile devices in a number of ways, including voice-to-text mobile communication on collaboration apps. One application of speech recognition AI is the automation of supply chain management. Paired with machine learning, speech recognition on mobile enterprise apps allows managers and staff to control and report on product levels and project progression using voice.
Workplace of the Future
Enterprises expand beyond cubicles and office buildings, and workers ditch multiple clunky desktop platforms for comprehensive mobile apps. To ensure growth and breakdown communication silos, management needs to move beyond bulletin boards and phone trees, according to a Zogby survey on deskless workers, and embrace the mobile revolution. The adoption of apps that are intuitive, secure, and flexible have the potential to increase employee retention and customer satisfaction rates, cut costs and, ultimately, increase the bottom line.
Stacey Epstein is CEO of Zinc, a communication platform for deskless workforces. Previously she was CMO at ServiceMax, acquired by GE for $1B; and VP global marketing at SuccessFactors, acquired by SAP for $3.4B. Epstein was a four-year all-conference soccer player at Emory University, and is a prolific writer on leadership, technology, and innovation.
Mar2018, Software Magazine