Brands today recognize the importance of providing a high-touch, seamless customer experience, but when it comes to creating an engaging employee experience, many companies fall short. As Jeffrey Mann, a V.P. analyst at Gartner, put it in a recent research note, “All too often, the employee experience is an afterthought for business and application leaders. They ignore the relevance to workers of the proven lessons from marketing and customer relationship management regarding the customer experience. Many of the same techniques used to create happy customers can be applied to encourage productive employees.”

Focusing on the employee experience will be particularly critical as the workforce becomes more distributed, mobile, and virtual. While these trends are not new, we can expect them to really gain steam in the years ahead. As Computerworld’s Charlotte Trueman states, “The number of remote workers has increased 115 percent over the course of the last decade; with Gartner predicting that by 2020, half of the U.S. will work outside the traditional office setting most of the time.”

As such, companies should focus on new strategies for keeping their employees—traditional and otherwise—happy, productive, and engaged. Enter enterprise collaboration apps. According to Wayne Kurtzman, a research director at IDC, “Companies that utilize team collaboration applications report having significantly increased group and personal productivity, have faster time to market, and execute projects [faster].”

A recent Computerworld article on enterprise collaboration apps by Matthew Finnegan outlines a number of additional benefits, including: 

  • Hiring and retention: Investing in tools to unite disparate workforces and encourage a culture of collaboration can be attractive to candidates and also help companies retain existing workers.
  • Knowledge sharing: Enterprise collaboration tools can help organizations more easily share information between various departments, geographies, and groups. In addition, these technologies can foster personal relationships by enabling employees to connect in a social, conversational manner that is often difficult to accomplish with traditional communication vehicles like email. 
  • Competitive differentiator: Finnegan’s piece references a Boston Consulting Group survey which found that organizations that focused on cultural change as part of their digital transformation projects had a 90 percent rate of financial success. 

Increasingly, the focus will be on how digital tools can aid and enable frontline workers. As IDC’s Kurtzman put it, “We’re at the beginning of making every worker a knowledge worker. The collaboration of an enterprise runs much more efficiently the more ideas that are there, the more ideas that can be acted upon.”

Think about the benefits of delivering retail associates or showroom consultants instant access to logistics or fulfillment representatives without requiring them to interrupt the customer interaction. While this implementation of enterprise collaboration is still in its relative infancy, it won’t be long before more brands equip frontline workers with these data-driven capabilities. As ever, this trend underscores the need for a solid data management and analytics foundation in order for companies to realize the promise of emerging technologies.

For more on what to expect from enterprise collaboration tools, check out Finnegan’s Computerworld piece in its entirety here.