3 Essential Concepts that will Enable True Workforce Transformation

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As businesses gear up to enact company-wide digital transformations, many firms are realizing that these strategies must first start with their workforce. But now that the foundation for this new approach is clear, the next question is how to execute these initiatives.

The answer lies in the impetus for digital workforce transformation itself: the newly available technologies purpose-built for sourcing and managing workers of all kinds. Businesses are starting to update their digital workforce strategies because the technology needed to complete this transformation is finally up to snuff. Digital transformation begins with a plan focused on people, but it is carried out with a plan enabled by the technologies that give digital its name.

To craft a successful digital workforce strategy, then, you'll need to fully understand the tools with which you'll execute it. Here are the three essential technology concepts you need to know about — and how they're already changing the way businesses source and manage work.

1. Labor Clouds

Labor clouds are curated networks of talent that can consist of freelancers, full-time employees and even vendors. They can be organized by any set of criteria that matters for your business, including location, skill, experience and certification. Companies can build a labor cloud for any department or function they’d like to augment or optimize: their field service workforce, their editorial team, their retail store operations and so on.

What makes a labor cloud different from previous workforce management approaches is that everything is controlled through a single platform. Labor clouds allow companies to optimize the deployment of all available labor resources — from freelancers to FTEs to vendors — for any specific task so they have the right person, at the right place, at the right time.

Based on the criteria that matter to your business, algorithms powering the labor cloud can decide to provision work to one of your contractors, one of your employees or even to a third-party vendor to produce the desired outcome. Retailers like Walgreens, for example, use labor clouds to augment their traditional staff for store operations, allowing them to adjust their workforce for periods of high and low demand as needed.

The reason labor clouds are an essential technology for the digital workforce transformation comes down to one word: productivity. As the labor market continues to become disrupted and fragmented, companies are looking for new ways to improve the productivity of their most expensive and important asset: their workforce. Labor clouds allow them to depart from traditional labor models — predominantly W-2 heavy, fixed-cost intensive — and leverage a highly skilled, flexible workforce to increase productivity, boost customer satisfaction and improve the bottom line.

2. Integration and APIs

Digital transformations aren’t starting from scratch. Over the last several decades, enterprise software has crept into the workforce and, to be sure, yielded many beneficial results. But the huge investments companies have made in legacy technologies won’t be going away anytime soon. Thus, as businesses look to digitally transform their workforce with new platforms specifically designed for that purpose, they need to be able to connect new technology systems they use within their organization (e.g., ERP, CRM, VMS, HCM, etc.).

One major reason for this is that it enables inter-technology cohesion between between different functions. Many legacy technology investments still represent critical components of the enterprise IT ecosystem. Integration through APIs enhances interoperability across the entire enterprise, allowing managers to allocate resources in the most efficient and effective manner possible and creating a single source of information about their workforce.

But the benefits of integration go beyond just communication and efficiency. By creating connectivity between new workforce management platforms and CRM, HCM, ERP, billing or other mission-critical enterprise applications, businesses can facilitate the transition from fixed operating models to higher-performing variable models. And since labor is the biggest line item for most organizations, integrating the technology used to manage that labor in a seamless and intuitive fashion can pay big dividends for companies down the line.

3. Direct Worker Engagement Through Mobile

Just as integrations increase the interoperability of critical enterprise technologies, engaging talent through native mobile apps will connect your digital strategy with today’s workers where they live. Companies looking to modernize their workforce and embrace a digital transformation need to be able to empower their people with the ability to collaborate on the go and wherever they may be.

More than ever before, mobile applications are playing an integral part in the growth of today’s leading service organizations. Mobile connectivity is now a cornerstone to successful business execution, particularly for service firms that deploy a team of independent contractors in the field.

Consider the possibilities. Insurance adjusters can be sent to the location of a claim and report back to headquarters. Media organizations can send assignments to news photographers who, based on the GPS built into their phones, are already in range to get material they need, all while uploading work deliverables on the go and submitting expense reports through the same interface.

As work becomes increasingly detached from traditional employment models and independent workers report in from anywhere, businesses will increasingly rely on mobile solutions to support their field operations and empower their workforce. With additional functionality built from the get-go to fit a mobile UI, businesses will be able to empower their entire team — both internal and external — and drive better results.

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