Squeezed budgets, smaller teams and the demand for return on investment are driving employers to examine how they can improve their global mobility programmes. This is where global mobility technology is stepping up, offering solutions with the potential to enhance the efficiency, value and effectiveness of mobility activity.
Currently, technology for global mobility means different things to different organisations.
For some, technology comes in the form of Excel spreadsheets. Others however are making the move to more advanced technologies to leverage the potential for operational and strategic advantage.
Understanding your global mobility technology needs
There is an awful lot of choice on the market for technology that supports mobility. But while some solutions may sound great on paper (or during the sales pitch), you have to be confident that what you are investing in aligns to your specific needs and your specific strategy.
Before considering your technology requirements, it is crucial to have as a basis the fundamentals of your organisation’s global mobility programme. An audit exercise is particularly useful as it will identify areas of risk and weakness, allowing you to understand what your actual needs are. New systems or technology may then emerge as potential solutions.
Questions to consider include:
- Number of employees – are you operating a large-scale mobile population or a smaller cohort?
- Types of mobility – what is the make-up of your mobility activity? High volumes of short term deployments? Fewer longer-term assignments or permanent relocations?
- Mobility structure – does your organisation take a centralised, regional or de-centralised approach? Where do responsibilities lie?
- Existing systems – what systems do you already have in place? Are there options to integrate or is replacement required?
- Internal resource – who will be responsible for any new system and related processes? Will training be required?
Scoping this detail out in advance of any decision to invest in technology will help ensure alignment to mobility needs and wider organisational business objectives.
What are the key benefits to organisations of investing in global mobility technology?
There are a number of key benefits to employers of investing in the right global mobility technology for their business:
- Process accuracy – Given the complex nature of global mobility, automation has the potential to transform the effectiveness and efficiency of your processes. This can be applied in areas such as relocation support and international immigration compliance. In many instances, automation will relieve mobility teams of time-consuming administrative tasks, freeing them up for more strategic contribution.
- Speed of response – Things change quickly within global mobility. Improving responsiveness will help to retain control and impact of your support. Chatbots for example will start to be used as first line support. It’s likely to be the first foray for many organisations into AI.
- Data insight – One of the key drivers around investment in technology for employers is the growing appetite for data – finding it, storing it, sharing it, using it. Organisations will come to rely on technology that centralises data, drawn from multiple sources, in real time, that is quality controlled and fully auditable – this is changing how mobility is functioning through systems integration and cross-functional collaboration.
- Cost control and savings – Cost remains a pervasive concern. Technological solutions are being developed which are helping employers retain some control and a degree of certainty over cost. These include cost calculators which provide educated estimates for mobility activity that also include related areas such as tax, payroll and pensions.
- Employee engagement – Technology is already being used to improve and enhance communication with employees on assignment. This will continue, and will also extend more widely to areas such as feedback purposes. The objective is to enhance your employee support and remove the stress often associated with overseas assignments. The benefit to organisations is improved employee morale and retention.
The flip side of technology
Introducing new technology does add to the risk agenda.
Initial investment will be required, which in some cases may be prohibitive for some organisations.
Implementation will require a change management process, including updates existing policies, procedures, internal training and stakeholder communications.
Use of enhanced technology is also raising broader questions and placing duties on employers around privacy, data protection and cyber security. Employers carry substantial burdens when handling data (including imminent GDPR), which becomes yet another compliance headache.
Adopting new technology also places new demands on skill sets. Whereas HR and mobility functions have traditionally been regarded as having core people skills, increased adoption of technology will demand more technically-aligned skills to support the existing ‘people skills.
At every stage in the mobility cycle, there is scope for technology to support, if not drive, enhancements that can save time and money.
With increasing risk associated with mobilising talent on a global scale, organisations are expected to take advantage of technology to improve efficiencies and effectiveness of their mobility programmes.