The world of global mobility (GM) is becoming an increasingly complex place, with new challenges leading to GM teams adopting technology to modernise their programmes to ensure compliance and meet business objectives.
One of the biggest trends we have seen over recent years from our clients has been the drive towards technology. Whether through automation or increasing the use of technology in their day-to-day work, GM teams are continuously looking for ways to save time, reduce errors and generate efficiencies.
Spending less time on laborious manual tasks allows GM teams to spend more time focusing on adding value; therefore, anything that will help demonstrate value whilst doing more with less will increase the chances of GM teams being at the table when big decisions are made.
Utilised to deliver build-up calculations and rudimentary cost estimates, Microsoft Excel is still the number one tech solution for most companies and a great example of automation at its most basic level.
Although spreadsheets remain a key part of a GM professional’s armoury, more are adopting standalone calculators that save GM teams from writing and maintaining the various macros and spreadsheets to ensure they correlate to the latest cost of living data or tax codes.
These calculators are a key component of assignment management systems, these being platforms that allow GM teams to automate manual activities across the assignment lifecycle whilst being fully customisable to their specific policy rules and requirements.
The next step after this is the more sophisticated assignment management systems which allow GM teams to manage all processes from initiation to completion, including automating administrative tasks, storing assignment histories and track key dates.
With the ability to hold so much data, these systems promote convenient and accurate reporting, something which can prove tricky through Microsoft Excel. In addition, the more high-end, bespoke systems offer time-saving functionalities such as dynamic workflows and document generation.
Driving user experience
We have so much technology at our fingertips that it’s no surprise that we’ve seen growing demand to improve the user experience for both GM teams and assignees; however, any technological solution adopted must add real value and functionality. There’s nothing worse than investing in a pretty system that you end up not using, because it can’t do the job.
As a further way of improving UX, many organisations wish to involve assignees in the GM process. Their contributions can be as simple as completing forms for themselves and their dependants to retrieving documents ahead of their posting and throughout assignment.
Irrespective of needs, finding the balance between user experience and functionality is crucial. For example, a technological solution that provides mobile access, such as an app, may be preferential for assignees, but it is unlikely to be the right solution for a GM team who would find it less suitable for more detailed office-based tasks.
The next step: VR, AR and AI
The scope for GM technology doesn’t just end with assignment management systems as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are becoming commonplace, especially when it comes to relocation.
Rather than physically visiting in person, assignees are beginning to take virtual tours of properties using VR headsets. Whilst this can’t fully replicate the experience of seeing a property in person, it is far more immersive than static images and significantly more convenient and cost effective than travelling overseas to view multiple properties.
AR is already being harnessed in the planning stages of relocation, with ready-made apps that help assignees simplify the process, such as measuring furniture in relation to the size of a dwelling or calculating the size of shipment required for the contents of an assignee’s home.
AI is one advancement that offers real potential to free up time for GM teams. Chatbots are becoming increasingly popular as a first stop for assignees as a way of answering simple questions and alleviating common concerns, with only the more intricate queries being escalated to the GM team.
One size doesn’t fit all
State-of=the-art technological options can certainly simplify the GM function in many cases; however, it’s worth highlighting that businesses should find a solution that works for them. Full digitalisation may work for companies that manage thousands of assignees but can be overkill for smaller organisations.
Furthermore, the landscape of a company and its IT set-up are likely to dictate what is required from any solution and will drive the choice of what to automate and what to integrate. If your organisation is determined to be at the forefront of change, it is more likely that GM teams will receive approval for technology spending.
Where do we go from here?
Regardless of where businesses are in their technological journeys, companies appear to be increasingly aware of what the future may hold for global mobility. Even if technology is not yet being utilised to its full potential, many GM teams are taking steps to future-proof the function, starting with smaller, simpler solutions that can grow as the business expands.
GM teams should have a clear focus of the future needs of the business in respect to global mobility when making the initial investment in technology. Transitioning from one software to another can be an arduous process, so it is crucial that GM teams work with a trusted supplier that can be viewed as a long-term partner as opposed to a transactional vendor for a specific project.
Although technology can be a huge asset to GM teams, it cannot, and will not, ever fully replace the role of human beings. GM teams deal with sensitive issues, and despite the technological advances, it will never match the level of human understanding required to effectively manage mobility. However, GM teams should embrace the opportunities and liberties that new technologies can offer, enabling them to spend more time on value-adding tasks and managing ever-shortening lead times.