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Ellen Mcmahon, SVP, Information Technology, Cartus
Enterprise mobility is the combination of people, processes, and technology built around mobile devices, wireless networks, and cloud-computing services, that allow companies to conduct business in a decentralized fashion. Global mobility - employees relocating for jobs around the world - could be seen as one of the most direct beneficiaries of enterprise mobility developments.
While companies traditionally moved employees from place A to place B with permanent moves, employee job transfers today look much different. Temporary and short-term transfers, as well as commuting and extended business travel, are now typical. Corporate clients want the ability to communicate with relocating employees in the way those employees prefer, and that means making services available through a variety of modes and devices—for instance, providing options to video conference or instant message with their relocation provider, or offering access to a live service representative at any hour of the day through their mobile device. Millennial customers, in particular, expect a seamless combination of mediums or “Omni-channels” when interacting with relocation management companies, including self-service tools, voice, digital/mobile, and social.
Employees working in far-flung locations also need technology solutions to help them stay on top of the myriad of details involved in their own moves, including getting up to speed on the language and culture of the location(s) they will be working in. At Cartus, we have met that need with a virtual online learning platform that delivers customized language training with a live teacher, so that employees can learn anytime, anywhere. Likewise, contracts, consent forms, and legal agreements can be signed electronically from a website or a mobile app—especially key when the sale or purchase of a home is involved.
If You’re App-y and You Know It, Tap Your Thumbs:
The need to communicate with relocating employees in the way those employees prefer, and to make that communication available through a variety of modes and devices, was the genesis for Cartus’ own mobile app more than five years ago. Numerous upgrades and iterations later, Cartus Mobile has been downloaded tens of thousands of times and used in more than 125 countries.
For employees, predictive analytics is being used to set expectations, letting them know exactly where they are in their relocation journey and what tasks lie ahead.
Virtual Personal Assistants (exampl., Siri, Alexa) are commonly used at home today to make calls, adjust the thermostat, turn on lights, and access information. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) space has expanded to work environments, and natural language processing software and other AI components have improved to the point where a virtual relocation assistant to answer your policy questions and provide status updates about your relocation is imminently possible. Imagine having an AI assistant that could give you an answer to any question you had about your relocation—in any language! Even better, it could be designed to do the bulk of the work for you, whether that’s submitting your expense report or filing the appropriate paperwork.
Go Big (Data) or Go Home
Most corporations have been collecting data for years, using it to dissect past performance and trends. Now there is technology that allows us to put that data to use in predicting outcomes of business scenarios. At Cartus, we are developing predictive analytics algorithms that leverage our extensive data repository to impact relocation outcomes.
For employees, predictive analytics is being used to set expectations, letting them know exactly where they are in their relocation journey and what tasks lie ahead. Cartus’ “Interactive Timeline” applies advanced analytics to our vast database of moves with varying policy parameters, locations, and circumstances to predict the path of any given transferee’s personal relocation. The Interactive Timeline presented online, offers to relocate employees a quick visual overview of their move, including alerts for key activities and important milestones along with access to supporting resources. As the move progresses, the Timeline dynamically updates and re-forecasts each milestone in real time based on supplier and employee input.
For clients, it’s being used to capture the elusive ROI of relocation: quantifying the value gained from the dollars spent. Cartus is investing in predictive analytics so that our clients will benefit from our ability to generate likely outcomes given different combinations of locations, policy support, and budgetary spend, enabling them to predict approaches that will save them money, what kind of assignments have the highest return on investment, and which employees will have the highest probability of success.
To Infinity (or Thereabouts) and Beyond
For employees accomplishing company goals while on the move and the companies moving them, new technologies are more critical than ever—but they certainly come with challenges. Mobile devices—whether personal or company-provided—must have enhanced security to protect against risks incurred while traveling. Applications and services in the cloud also need to meet the same or higher standards for security and privacy, with data encryption and secure communications.
Most critically, because relocation is, at heart, a people business, technological advances need to strike that balance between flexibility, speed, self-service, and the all-important “human factor”—a mandate that relocation companies and the clients they serve will need to keep a close watch on. The scope of change is huge, but relocation companies will continue to do what they’ve always done: adapt and broaden their offerings in tune with the needs of their clients and customers—an exciting road to be on!