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HOW WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY CAN IMPROVE BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

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Richard Jeffery, Group Chief Executive Officer at ActiveOps

 

Neither employee productivity monitoring (EPM) and workforce management (WFM) are new technologies, although they continue to be improved worldwide. Yet, they answer to one primary headache faced by business leaders across the board: how to adapt operations to thrive in the new age of unpredictable, volatile markets and workloads. What’s more, they promise a boost to employee productivity and wellbeing, and the result? A better performing and more resilient company.

 

Employee productivity monitoring (EPM) and workforce management (WFM) 

At present, most organisations have grown their ranks of middle management to ensure productivity remains high. This hasn’t worked – and has added cost to organisations. The problem is that managers are bogged down in tasks that get in the way of them doing their jobs effectively.

With EPM and WFM, one extracts data from the workplace while the other uses it to facilitate better business management decisions on workforce deployment and remove the guesswork from monitoring and management processes. They are essentially two sides of the same coin with the aim to reduce the burden that managers have, thus allowing them to gather and analyse information and use data to make better decisions.

Richard Jeffery

Also, EPM and WFM can be implemented as separate technologies and in combination as point solutions (with built-in integrations and APIs) embedded in other applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) or human capital management (HCM) systems. Both EPM and WFM can run in the cloud or within ‘on-premises technology estates, much of which, according to technology analysts, will be cloud-based within the next five years’ (IDC, Forrester, Gartner, etc.)

 

Employee productivity monitoring 

Activity information can be collected automatically from an employee’s desktop, the amount and detail depending on its use. Unlike security-related data collection (right down to keystrokes and screen recording), the time monitoring solutions discussed here will usually stay at a higher level of abstraction. Employees need to know what activity the company is tracking. Everyone doing the same work can be subject to the same level of scrutiny—assuring employees that monitoring complies with legal and ethical norms.

Usually, the data collected in EPM solutions is time-related, covering application usage, log-on, and log-offs, phone calls, and offline work such as administration or external meetings and probably require manual input. However, real-time collection means that EPM systems can spot and help resolve issues quickly – including problems that have nothing to do with employees’ motivation or focus. By spotting the slowing of work this causes, management can respond quickly using customisable dashboards. This means that work can be reassigned to more productive locations while investing in higher-quality connectivity for the affected site.

 

Workforce management for your business

Allowing businesses control of forecasting and future planning through EPM can enhance overall productivity throughout the company. Such a system can act as a radar enabling teams to monitor activity and areas of improvement, live. Having a “quick view” of what’s going at any level be it  individual, task, team, division, country, can vastly improve performance. . Some systems have built-in collaboration tools to easily share information with others, including annotating the reports quickly. This speeds up decision-making, allowing a seamless flow of productivity overall.

Business leaders can also create plans based on accurate information and model possible scenarios to evaluate likely organisational impacts meaning decisions based on real data can give insights to skills, availability, and capacity across the board.

 

Wellbeing for your teams

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reasonably asserts: “When people feel a high level of wellbeing, they are more engaged and productive at work.” With workforces becoming more distributed, it is hard for the average company to watch staff wellbeing. It is a challenge for the HR department or managers to keep in touch and encourage two-way contact between the company and employees to assess the need for interventions. With a WFM and EPM system, it is possible to spot behavioural changes and take appropriate action.

 

Making a choice for brighter future

Although EPM and WFM are fundamentally technical solutions, they should be implemented in a way that retains the goodwill of the workforce, except when they’re used to observe robotic applications. Yet, organisations will need to be clear on their objectives to ensure future productivity. Are you solely focused on productivity for your business? Do you need to integrate with other applications and devices through inbuilt connectivity or APIs? You may also need to consider the experience and culture of your vendor shortlist.

In conclusion, the key is to identify the organisational ‘must haves’ before selecting an EPM or WFM system for your business. Yet the result for organisations is clear; streamline middle management operations, see better results from managers and enable them to be more agile and, therefore, competitive in the modern marketplace.

 

Business

OUTSOURCING YOUR IT SOLUTIONS CAN SAVE YOU FROM COSTLY DOWNTIME

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Amir Hashmi, CEO and Founder of leading IT and Cloud services provider Zsah, discusses why you need full-time professionals if you want to avoid the money pits of IT downtime

 

A lot of wealthy business owners will uphold the following infamous statement – time is money. Many CEOs believe that it should be at the heart of your business strategy. They aren’t wrong, and it is no different when it comes to IT. Therefore, it is high-time that businesses consider the real risks and costs associated with IT downtime, and do all they can to avoid it

In the midst of a post-pandemic technological revolution, it’s now more important than ever to carefully consider who manages your technology. It is essentially the motor that drives productivity, efficiency and growth, and if therefore, if there isn’t a thorough and dedicated system in place, businesses risk system failure, which can risk everything.

Something so essential to a company deserves to be taken more seriously than just to deploy the services of an IT help desk when there’s a significant issue. The answer isn’t necessarily to consider ways in which you can fix a problem once it arises, but instead to ponder upon ways of preventing an issue from occurring in the first place. This is what leads us to managed IT support services: your personal, dedicated team of IT experts that not only fix issues when they occur, but that also constantly improve the software and hardware so there is less chance they ever take place.

 

The real cost of downtime

Whenever your IT isn’t functioning at its full capability, you are losing money. Even the shortest of gaps in service can severely impact the customers’ experience, your reputation, and the output and efficiency of your entire staff.

In 2017, ITIC sent out an independent survey to measure downtime costs. It found that 98% of organisations say that a single hour of downtime costs over USD $100,000, with 81% putting the figure at over $300,000. For 33% of businesses, 60 minutes of downtime would cost their firms between $1 million and £5 million.

Figures from Statista.com reveal 24% of organisations worldwide reporting average hourly downtime costs amounting to between USD 301,000 and USD 400,000, with 14% reporting greater than USD 5 million in costs.

Elsewhere, IHS Markit surveyed 400 companies and found downtime was costing them a collective USD 700 billion per year – 78% of which was from lost employee productivity during outages.

 

Managed IT solutions are the key

Though we may never know the full cost of downtime, it is evident that it costs individuals and businesses a large amount of money. Don’t wait until your next emergency to remedy a problem; get the professionals in now to prepare for the future, rather than just fix problems in the present.

When you work with a managed technology services provider, your network and infrastructure are supervised 24 hours a day, all year round. As with any IT service, this means that issues will be fixed – however the real advantage is more long-term. As technology service providers perform regular proactive upkeep, there will be a reduced chance of suffering from issues in the first instance, and when (or if) they do occur, it will be far simpler to recover data thanks to full cloud integration.

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HOW TRADITIONAL INSURERS CAN USE TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH CUSTOMERS

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The customer experience with insurance is anomalous, in that one is only required to engage with their insurer if things are going wrong for them. To add value to the relationship, new technology and methods should be adopted, in turn driving loyalty and business growth, writes Oliver Werneyer, CEO and Co-founder of Imburse

Oliver Werneyer

Insurance is one of the oldest industries in the world and it is still, to this day, considered a grudge purchase. Looking back, insurance has a history of having a challenging relationship with its customers. According to an IBM study, in 2008, only 39% of consumers trusted the insurance industry. This percentage has stayed largely similar over the years, having reached only 42% in 2020. For any business with growth ambitions, good customer relationships are crucial.

I believe that now more than ever, the insurance industry not only needs to continue investing in improving relationships with customers, but to really think about new ways of doing so. At a basic level, the moment of truth for an insurance customer is when either they need to pay or are getting paid. Insurers can have the best policy wording, quick claims processes, apps and advisors, but if the experience to pay premiums or to receive a claim is bad, the customer immediately loses trust.

The pandemic has exposed this tenuous relationship between insurers and its customers. The need to move everything online and provide personalised services has exposed significant shortcomings in the service insurers provide. The industry has been too slow to adopt newer technologies and move engagements closer to the customer (self-service and empowered). This is largely due to the legacy systems and processes that insurers failed to modernise over previous years.

This means that the better-positioned incumbents have stronger customer relationships and benefit disproportionately from the pandemic, as they are able to win more new customers and convert customers from other insurers. They also benefit from significantly lower customer acquisition costs and much better growth, as illustrated in this McKinsey report. Even new entrants or InsurTechs are benefitting massively by focusing on improved customer experience and customer relationships.

However, it is never too late for insurers to build better relationships with customers. The main way to build a good relationship with a client is to make life easier, live up to promises and add value through the relationship with them. By working on these key elements, insurers can start building strong relationships with their customers, and, through the right partners, deliver this in a timely and non-disruptive manner.

 

Embedded Services

Insurance products often get a bad reputation because they cost money, but the benefits might only come much later, or never. Customers don’t get to experience a positive relationship with insurance products, either because they never claim and feel like they lost out, or they claim and they’re in a bad situation. By either embedding other services into the insurance experience to deliver a more transactional engagement, or embedding insurance products into general customer experiences such as online shopping or rewards, insurers can enrich customer relationships to generate value.

This way, insurers become a value-adding part of the customers’ everyday activities and not just a product that they have to pay for and may never get anything back from. One example is to embed micro-savings capabilities, often found in banking, into pension savings and insurance products. This can allow customers to save more for pension, attract younger customers and build a portfolio of fiscally disciplined customers.

 

Tailored journeys and personalisation

Customers have come to expect personalised journeys and engagements from product providers. Streaming services, social media, e-commerce or mobility services have shaped the customer expectations. Now, customers are also expecting personalisation for insurers.

Insurers need to invest very heavily in delivering personalisation and customisation to customers as they engage with their products. Failure to deliver this puts renewed strain on the value perceived by the customer and their relationship with the insurer. This applies not only to customer interfaces, but to aspects such as payments. Insurers should make it easy and pleasant for customers to pay and get paid. As the main moment of truth, payment experiences need to work optimally.

 

Perceived customer value metrics and delivery

The value customers derive from insurance products is, generally, monetary. Therefore, insurers must invest in product enhancement to increase its perceived value. Perceived value is not tied to a monetary value. By being able to choose between multiple payment options, such as a $300 pay-out to a bank account or a $320 Amazon voucher, the customer has a higher perceived value of the payment. This can be achieved by leveraging non-insurance products that can be purchased at a discounted price, exclusive access that the customer would otherwise not have or conversion into a form that is more useful to the customer.

Payments, for collection and pay-out, are at the core of delivering this value. An excellent payment experience immediately influences the customer to be positively inclined toward a product (PwC report). In order to offer this, insurers need to leverage multiple technologies and providers, offer any speed of transaction in any market, and deliver faster automation and better risk control. The key is to transform insurance products into transactional value-adds to customers’ lives and use this opportunity to continuously build on relationships with customers.

The main roadblock for insurers is still the operational implications of these activities and the costs that arise. In looking to build a better customer relationship, insurers need to look at partners that are operational enablers to deliver this. Partners that can solve the integration and speed-to-market problem so that insurers are enabled to deliver new capabilities, not bombard them with new ideas and no path to delivery.

Imburse, for instance, enables insurers to access all the global payment providers and technologies available in any market. Through a single connection, insurers can deploy any payment capability into any channel, for collection and pay-outs, without ever again needing to build a direct operational integration to the providers. This gives them full freedom to leverage payments as a key value driver and customer experience enhancer.

Building a better relationship with insurance customers is key for the insurance industry to close the protection gap. Incumbents are in the prime position to look at Insurtech and Fintech partners to rapidly and significantly modernise, digitalise and transform their own capabilities to deliver major enhanced value to their customers.

Imburse is an advanced universal payment connector that enables businesses to gain cost-effective access to complete global payments technology, regardless of the service provider. To learn more, please visit www.imbursepayments.com.

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