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Learning from B2C: How to adapt enterprise software for the remote workforce

(Image credit: Image Credit: llaszlo / Shutterstock)

In recent weeks, enterprises of all sizes around the world have suddenly found themselves working from home. While some companies have found the shift seamless, others are having to create remote working capabilities from scratch, placing technology and security centre stage.

As we have seen in the news, there are a host of remote working tools that have already helped connect many leading companies of all sizes during these challenging times, creating virtual cultures overnight.

From Slack with its emojis and ‘water cooler conversation’, to Google Hangouts and Zoom video conferencing, helping to provide the tools required to offer a face-to-face connection. Companies can now see first-hand how the right technology and tools help to create some sense of digital normality while boosting morale. So much so, Zoom recently reported that it had reached 200 million daily meeting participants in March, compared to 10 million back in December. Slack and Microsoft Teams have also both reported a huge surge in users.

As the world’s largest remote working experience continues and companies get used to the new normal, many are beginning to look at what’s worked and what’s next for enterprise software. Notably, as increasing numbers of businesses are toying with the idea of revising their work from home policies post-lockdown. In some cases, they are shifting some employees to work from home permanently.

Cloud computing will keep us connected

Cloud-based technology is not a new concept. There has been an appetite for it for quite some time, and more so in recent years as CIOs have developed digital transformation strategies. But, it is likely that the cloud will hold the spotlight in the coming months, as organisations look for secure software that breeds agility.

As touched upon, there are already a host of tools that allow virtual collaboration to thrive across companies and global borders. But it is likely that CIO’s will focus their attention even more so on providing robust technology that allows their employees to access business intelligence, no matter where they are in the world.

In fact, Forbes reported that the Dresner Advisory Services' 2020 Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence study, showed 54 per cent of respondents noted cloud business intelligence as either critical or very important to their current and future business strategies.

By moving to the cloud, organisations will continue to form agile and autonomous ways of working. Allowing their employees to access business information no matter where they are in the world. These developments will be a valuable move for large enterprises looking to embed a data-driven culture.

AI will reduce inefficiencies

A recent study by Adobe and Fortune highlighted how AI is still relatively new for many organisations. Out of 200 CIOs surveyed, 50 per cent of enterprise CIOs said they use AI in one or more projects. They reported that the biggest issues related to AI include getting existing data in order, funding, and finding the right talent.

But, AI doesn’t always have to centre around its capability of producing ground-breaking intelligence to make an impact. Some of the companies that are leveraging AI the best are those that are using it to remove tedious processes that have long-created historic inefficiencies in team performance and collaboration. By reducing friction for employees, companies can produce more efficiency in their digital workforces. So, instead of asking for more from their workforce, AI can be relied on to simplify outdated, archaic systems.

As more and more companies move towards the cloud, the role of AI in making life easier for those accessing information will become vital. This includes identifying and removing duplicate and old reports, ensuring that information is up to date and useful, and automating the classification of information.

A consumer experience will be expected

Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson’s Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee, said, “Our employees are just like consumers in that they want to have a frictionless experience with technology in their day-to-day lives, so we’re focusing on improving their digital experience wherever we can. We’re simplifying workflow, making processes less complicated, and shifting to modern user-centric designs powered by data science and intelligent automation.”

Thanks to services like Spotify and Netflix, we now look for recommendations in our personal lives to guide us on what to watch and what to listen to. When engaging with content and media, user experience plays a vital role in shaping the quality and engagement of our interactions. Why then is this not usually the case when it comes to technology that powers the business world?

Providing teams with technology that is easy to use and increases employee output when working remotely must become a key priority for CIOs. Tools such as Slack and Zoom have already proved how business can continue remotely. However, one pointer that must also be considered is how experience also plays a vital role.

The consumerization of enterprise software is not a new term but as we continue in these unchartered waters, it will almost certainly play a key role in encouraging long term adoption and ensuring value-add for digital employees.

The future of enterprise

Over the coming months and years, CIOs will continue to prioritise their digital transformation strategies, now looking even more so at how they can support a productive remote work culture. And, companies looking to future proof this will need to ensure they have developed systems that can help their workforce operate from anywhere at any time. Yet, support and access for a digital workforce are not enough.

Those who create thriving digital workforces will need to be willing to push the boundaries and offering technology that empowers employees to be just as effective, if not more so, when working from home.

The future of the enterprise will require technology that keeps teams connected, productive, and inspired. And, this will mostly be achieved through experience, technology and culture.

Right now, consumer technology continues to lead the way in driving engagement. But, enterprise technology must follow if it is to unlock the power and potential of the remote workforce truly.

Thor Olof Philogene, CEO and Co-founder, Stravito

Thor Olof Philogene is the CEO and Co-founder of Stravito, an award-winning storage and sharing system for market research.