Keeping connected in the age of hybrid work

As organisations look to shift from remote working to more of a hybrid model after the pandemic, technology is central to ensure both employees and customers feel engaged

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed workplace models. A ‘black swan’ event in the truest sense, the drastic changes in the way people work has forced organisations to shift from traditionally incremental approaches to employee engagement, to rethinking this vital subject from the ground up and looking at it in a totally fresh and, crucially, end-to-end way.

While few organisations can dispute that productivity has, by and large, been maintained through the move to remote working, the pandemic has also undoubtedly illuminated the value of face-to-face interactions that many businesses and employees are now missing. As a result, most companies are now preparing to transition to a hybrid working model for the post-pandemic age, whereby employees decide where is the best place to fulfil certain tasks.

Of course, it’s not only employee engagement that is affected by hybrid working, but customer engagement too. Software company Unit4 is one of many organisations that previously met regularly in person with customers to review progress, but has had to adapt to virtual meetings during the pandemic. In the hybrid model, it foresees maximum value from balancing meeting in-person while also taking advantage of technology that enables virtual meetings of all shapes and sizes, delivering value and fuelling relationships. This is just one of many examples where Unit4 is using technology to boost customer engagement.

“The acceleration of digital transformation has brought to the forefront the areas we need to emphasise to ensure our customers are supported,” says Michelle MacCarthy, global head of customer success at Unit4, a leader in enterprise cloud applications. “They include providing strong onboarding, education, enablement and training so we can enhance their ability to drive better adoption, achieve value and bring that back into their business, especially in these times where costs are tight and people are still adapting to the change. We partner closely with customers to ensure they are in the best position to realise value.”

The acceleration of digital transformation has brought to the forefront the areas we need to emphasise to ensure our customers are supported

Supporting the optimum hybrid model for both employees and customers requires a savvy adoption of technology that goes beyond collaboration platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which have become the lifeblood of organisations. Cloud is particularly important, enabling companies to consistently take advantage of the latest and greatest innovation through the continuous releases typical in cloud-based applications. This is especially valuable for back-end applications like enterprise resource planning (ERP) which traditionally weren’t very cloud-oriented.

All of this supports the need for real-time data and flexibility, which has grown exponentially during the pandemic. Though hybrid models will see a partial return to office working, for most companies it will be less frequent than before the pandemic. With less sense of what’s going on around the organisation, it’s crucial that employees and customers can source this information through the digital tools at their disposal. Achieving a single source of truth will rely on real-time, point-to-point integration between tools and applications, while flexibility can be gained through microservices which can be altered without affecting other services.

Unit4 recently launched ERPx, its next-generation intelligent ERP solution which combines these innovations, bringing together the capabilities of multiple departments onto a unified cloud platform that shares real-time information in a powerful, people-centric approach. With better insights, employees become more effective and increasingly motivated. The freedom to connect and extend industry-specific online data services and solutions quickly and easily helps companies achieve a digital foundation where people feel included wherever they are.

“ERPx puts our customers right at the forefront of the latest functionality as soon as it becomes available, ensuring they’re always innovating, planning and staying ahead,” says Shivkumar Gopalan, CIO at Unit4. “It uses API technology with microservices that interact with each other and provide quick integration, both within the tool and outside. It also utilises artificial intelligence to improve the user experience for end users by drawing insights from their behaviours, such as repetitive pieces of work, to inform what to include in the next releases. These innovations will be essential to keeping staff and customers connected.”

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