The start of a brand new year can be an incredibly daunting time for your C-suite, let alone each and every member of your company. After all, in addition to having to assess accomplishments and shortcomings from the previous year, the start of a new year is all about budgets, exceeding quarterly objectives and driving unprecedented ROI. This doesn’t begin to touch on the fact that the start of a new calendar year also requires executives to cast an eye toward burgeoning industry trends to weave them into upcoming strategic roadmaps.
2014 is already off to a fast start with a surge of trends, fads and movements shaping everyday business culture. Many of these advances are designed to bring new efficiencies and heightened productivity to the workplace—a space that is increasingly becoming crowded with disgruntled workers who feel disengaged and unable to perform to their full potential. As revealed in Gallup’s “The State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide” report:
- Employee engagement makes a difference; Companies with engaged workers have significantly higher productivity, profitability and customer ratings—as well as less turnover.
- Despite this fact, active disengagement is running rampant across the globe. In the U.S. alone, disengagement costs the country between $450 and $550 billion per year.
- Only 13 percent of workers feel engaged by their jobs, which has a direct hand in overall productivity and ROI.
So how can the latest technology innovations address these very real business concerns? By equipping your internal workforce with the tools needed to better perform in their current roles and, in so doing, better serve your key stakeholders.
Let’s take a look at some of the top technology trends that are piquing the interest of the C-level suite across all industries and how embracing these bleeding-edge innovations can revolutionize your company.
Supporting the Work from Home Movement
Your disengaged workers are not only affecting corporate culture and morale; they are also affecting your bottom line. The fact is that your employees can feel disconnected with your brand for a variety of reasons—from the fact that your company is still operating legacy equipment to the fact that your employees are still confined to your brick-and-mortar facility and are unable to work remotely.
2014 will be all about the work from home movement. This notion not only allows leading executives to attract top talent from anywhere around the world, but it also permits them to demonstrate to their employees that they support a variety of conducive working environments. While the work at home movement has been gaining speed for quite some time now—with the number of Americans working from home soaring 41 percent in the last decade—we have yet to see just how powerful the remote worker trend will become.
Why should enabling the work at home movement be on your 2014 bucket list? For the following three reasons:
- You are no longer geographically constrained: In the past, if a top prospect hailed from a different time zone, you may have been reticent to move forward with an offer letter. However, if you lose the geographical blinders when it comes to prospecting, a wealth of fresh talent opens up. And with the right office phone system in place—one that allows remote workers to simulate their on-site office environment—it will be as if your new hire is just several desks, instead of several states, away.
- It will force you to upgrade your technology: Supporting a remote workforce means saying goodbye to antiquated technology and hello to industry-leading innovations such as VoIP, unified communications (UC), presence technology and unified messaging. It enables you to bring your workplace into the 21st century—something both your new hires and existing employees will appreciate.
- You can grow your presence: If you want to meet with key stakeholders today who are several time zones away, you can either rely on cutting-edge technology like video conferencing and screen sharing to simulate in-person meetings or you can eat the costs associated with travel. However, by employing staffers across the country or globe, you open up the likelihood that one of your team members will be near someone with whom you are looking to do business.
Making Sense of Big Data
“Big data” is one of those phrases that have revolutionized the business world, right up there alongside with “cloud computing,” “Internet of Things” and “Bring Your Own Device.” That’s because the sheer quantity of data and metrics that are now available for business use is unprecedented. Just consider that fact that experts predict a 4,300 percent increase in annual data generation by 2020, according to an infographic compiled by Computer Science Corporation.
The inundation of metrics and figures, however, has the power to completely transform the workplace as employees can glean further insight into the effectiveness of their campaigns and the interest levels of target markets. If you do not have a system in place to support big data—such as marketing automation platforms, robust customer relationship management (CRM) systems or data aggregation platforms—you’re already set up for failure. Here are a few reasons to cast your eyes towards a sound data strategy:
- Big data can improve returns 10 to 20 percent, or anywhere from $100 to $200 billion, according to McKinsey and Company’s November 2013 study of CMOs titled “Big Data Big Profits.”
- Companies that have big data leaders enjoy five percent more productivity and six percent higher profits over companies that do not employ the use of such metrics, the same study reveals.
- 100 percent of CMOs feel that successful brands are those that use customer data to drive marketing decisions, an infographic created by Monetate reveals. Even more, 36 percent of marketers have “lots of consumer data” but “don’t know what to do with it,” giving companies all the more reason to deploy a solution that better helps them govern this data.
Unified communications solutions are unquestionably taking the driver seat in 2014, especially with the UC market poised to explode to $61.9 billion by 2018—up from $22.8 billion in 2011. This year, if your company has not already done so, cast your eye towards UC. A complete UC offering provides a full breadth of functionality and capabilities so that running a flawless communication system and advanced office phone system is possible. Fully-baked UC offerings feature the following value-adds:
- Presence technology
- Desktop sharing
- Voice chat, including peer-to-peer video chat
- Video and audio conferencing
- Unified messaging
The right UC platform will not only augment your customer service capabilities—as you can lean on the gold-standard technology to expedite decision making and answer queries in real-time—but it will also enable your workers, no matter where they are geographically located, to streamline chief business functions and collaborate more frequently.
The fact is that collaboration across the workplace is no longer optional if you want to see your profits soar. Your competitors already recognize this, as 83 percent of industry leaders already have a B2B collaboration initiative in place and 18 percent started their initiatives within the last two years, according to the Aberdeen Group’s “B2B Collaboration: No Longer Optional” report.
The trends and movements that will shape 2014 are already making big splashes just a few weeks into the New Year. Tell us, which innovations will you be bringing into your company the coming year?