Collection No 6
Leveraging new technology to make employees happier and more productive.
The way we work has changed forever. This includes not just how we work, but also where we work. Our files live in the cloud, we fill our pockets with powerful computers, our vehicles and objects are connecting, and the Internet serves up a bounty of information anywhere on the planet within seconds. We are officially untethered from our desks, but are we more productive? The short answer is no.
The reason? Companies have yet to leverage mobile technology to make people happier and more productive. We have yet to extend work processes beyond email, harness the power of these new devices, or build solutions that connect people to corporate data, to each other, and to customers on the go—but that is all about to change.
Applications that Empower
Sometimes people are pushed to the point of meltdown. Take Sheryl Thomas, a pharmaceutical representative for a large biotech company. In addition to the hundreds of products she must be an expert on, she is expected to coordinate, schedule, and conduct dozens of meetings every week. This morning, Sheryl has finally made her way through rush-hour traffic and is about to meet with the first of five doctors at Mercy Hospital. She is stressed out because she knows that much of the conversation with the doctors will be centered on the new drug her company has released, and every fiber in her body is telling her she is not ready to present this information. She does not want to waste their time, or worse, lose a customer who depends on her to be the expert. Then something magical happens.
As Sheryl parks her car, her iPad is hard at work, sorting her company’s CRM data, listing the last set of purchase orders for each doctor she is meeting with, linking each to short training videos about the products they ordered, offering her the chance to video conference with the product manager at her office who knows the most about the new drug, and dynamically creating PDF files that will form the basis of her sales collateral and leave-behinds. The app is smart enough to know where Sheryl is, which doctor she is meeting with, and what she needs to do her job more effectively. On one screen Sheryl now has a dashboard that is customized perfectly to her needs. How that information was assembled is not important to Sheryl; what matters is that she feels smart, confident, and effective. Technology fades to the background but plays a critical role in improving the quality of her life.
Sheryl’s experience is an example of a well-executed technology strategy that integrates mobile, social graph, and cloud. IT leaders have faced a tectonic shift in these areas. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon has forced technology leadership to rethink the relationship between IT and employees. Successful companies have fully embraced the concept and have begun to build both hardware and software solutions that empower people to work when they want and where they want. Return hours of the day to your employees and they will love you for it. Sometimes, these hours can be found in the most obvious of places.
The Connected Car and Enterprise Mobility
With the right apps, the impact of a smartphone or tablet on an employee’s productivity is clear, but what about drive time? Every major car manufacturer has begun to equip vehicles with wireless access points, but more people working in their cars can mean more dangerous roads. Last year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported over 3,000 deaths due to texting while driving. Companies face massive legal liability when an employee gets into an accident while working and driving. To create a safe environment to work in a car, employers need to provide opportunities to interact with corporate data through voice commands, heads-up displays, and hand gestures. Sheryl now has the ability to get in her car and simply speak to her CRM app, having it populate an interaction brief, update an order status, and even send customized follow-up collateral to her customers with personalized notes, all based on voice commands she issues while driving. She never has to touch a keyboard or screen.
Wearables and the Mobile Worker
Sheryl clearly benefits from her smartphone, her tablet, and even her car, but what about her wardrobe? How can sensors in her clothes or clipped to her body improve her health and happiness? With the announcement of the Apple Watch, wearables are once again a hot topic in the tech world. Companies are leveraging this new trend and helping employees to be not only more productive, but more health-conscious as well. A popular app called Lose It! is being used by several large enterprises to create weight loss and health challenges that are both fun and competitive. Employees can opt in, work as a team, and share workout results, calories burned, miles covered, and pounds lost.
With wearable devices becoming more powerful, warehouse workers can scan product inventory via watches, buyers can use them to pay for goods and services, and customers can enjoy amusement parks with bracelets that provide VIP experiences to everything the park has to offer.
If it seems Sheryl is spending too much time at her desk, light sensors in her watch can scan the environment, check the number of steps she has taken that day, and suggest that she book her next meeting outside. As Sheryl arrives at her conference, her smartphone will recommend a list of people she may want to meet based on shared interests or social graphs, and her bracelet will offer to automatically share her contact information as she shakes people’s hand or enters a session that she is scheduled to attend.
This is only the beginning of the future of work. We are about to enter a new period of growth in enterprise mobility. To date, over half a billion dollars of venture capital has flowed into the mobile start-up world and, with the announcements that industry giants like Apple and IBM are forming partnerships to offer end-to-end solutions around apps, services, and support, it is now critical for companies to leverage their investments in these new platforms. By building smart applications that rely on location metadata, the connected car, and wearables, companies can empower employees like Sheryl with tools that increase both the caliber of their work and the quality of their lives.