By Patrick Fitzgerald, Executive Vice President, Theatro — November 23, 2015
As a general rule, part-time employees in retail, hospitality and warehousing (enterprise indoor mobile workers) are on the front-line of an enterprise’s engagement with a customer, and are a crucial to the execution of the enterprise strategy. A critical challenge is that far too often, they are also the last people in the organization to receive vital information or direction.
Why? Well, they are typically remote (thousands of stores, hundreds of hotels and one central headquarters), do not have e-mail or voice-mail, and their core job responsibility is not to sit behind a desk, but to be on the sales floor working with customers and addressing specific tasks. Without e-mail or voice-mail, part-time employees and management must rely on very antiquated methods of communication. These outdated methods include posting memos to bulletin boards, spending a significant amount of local managers’ time trying to fill the communication gap between headquarters and part-time employees, as well as the age old game of “phone tag/phone chain” as headquarters teams try to provide critical information to remote part time employees in various locations.
A lack of real-time communication and a dependence on outdated communication methods creates a significant amount of inertia within an enterprise organization and complicates orchestration across the enterprise. What mobile technology should enterprises use to address this communication gap?
How are Enterprises Addressing This Gap Today?
Product recalls, safety announcements and IT outages are just a few examples of time-sensitive information that headquarters must be able to communicate with a far-flung and distributed team in real-time. To fill this critical gap, many large-scale enterprises rely on solutions such as shared voice mailbox set-up for all part-time employees, ad-hoc conference calls and video conferencing. Of course, each one of the solutions has pros and cons but a significant drawback is each of these solutions requires that the part-time employee leave the sales floor and be away from their primary tasks if they are to participate in real time.
If they wait to consume the information later, perhaps when it is more convenient, they run the risk that the particular information will be outdated. The default perspective in the industry is “someday everyone will have smart phones,” which will alleviate the problem. But as has been well-documented, there are significant bring-your-own-device (BYOD) challenges (both from IT, as well as labor law standpoints) that remain unaddressed, as well as a variety of concerns with part-time service associates having their eyes on a device screen rather than engaging with the customer to provide customer service.
Is there a better way?
What is quickly emerging and being embraced by large-scale enterprises with mobile indoor workers is the importance of enterprise-grade wearable solutions. While the impact of smart phone usage by customers and employees has been revolutionizing how businesses interact, this new wave of enterprise wearables is ushering in new ways to connect and communicate with and among employees. This new ability revolutionizes enterprise communication processes and allows enterprises to close the execution gap caused by inferior and ad-hoc communication solutions.
This is made possible, not only because enterprise wearables are part of the employees uniform (they go where the person goes and are always on). They are also complemented by a robust enterprise-wide software solution that enables headquarters teams to communicate directly to remote part-time employees to keep them abreast of important information, thus creating a truly integrated enterprise and bridging the gap between headquarters teams and remote locations.
As we look to the future and reimagine the workforce of tomorrow, the intelligent enterprise is driving new levels of operational efficiency, and enterprise wearables will play a critical role in connecting employees all along the enterprise chain while closing the execution gap caused by fragmented communications.