Trailblazing digital companies are using connected technology to break down business silos and create a new method of training, policy enforcement and customer support across sectors
Traditionally, business expertise has been cocooned in specific departments and job roles, from the legal to the IT department. There are few opportunities for their knowledge to be shared with other employees, let alone with partners and customers. This is even more difficult for organisations with fewer staff and resources, working across widely-dispersed locations.
Yet there is growing evidence that sealing expertise in silos, from the legal department to the IT department, can damage competitiveness and create a less competitive, disjointed business. Insights from one area of the business often have applications in another so that when people are introduced to fresh thinking new ideas from outside their own department, it fosters greater innovation.
Sharing expertise across sectors also creates more multi-faceted employees empowered to help themselves and reduces the need for costly internal support or training. The same is true for customers; if support staff can share expertise with customers from any location, it reduces expensive call-outs and product returns and increases first call resolution.
Previously, businesses have seen digital transformation as a means to facilitate better interdepartmental communication through tools such as video conferencing or Skype, while remote access technologies were used primarily for IT technical support.
Yet some of these tools don’t provide genuine interconnectivity; an engineer may be able to Skype someone at a remote location, but they cannot see what that employee is doing to guide them through a problem or ensure they are following company protocol. Crucially, they cannot remotely intervene to help an employee or customer navigate a technical or strategic problem and show them how to do it themselves.
Forward thinking companies apply to their entire business ecosystem the same thinking that lets an IT whiz remote in to your work laptop to fix it, enabling enterprise-wide interconnectivity.
Below are two examples of how connected technology is being transformed into a ubiquitous tool for everything from connected customer support to partner engagement.
Cross sector knowledge-exchange
As the digital economy breaks down barriers between companies, supply chains, customers and locations, businesses increasingly have to disseminate knowledge, human resources and technical assets across more regions and among more stakeholders than ever before. This is even more of a challenge for smaller firms with thinly-stretched resources.
One British engineering company, Arup, has 13,000 professionals dispersed across 40 countries providing a vast portfolio of services. They needed to find a way to facilitate 24-hour cross-sector technical support, training and collaboration without labour-intensive and time-consuming site visits.
The firm is using remote access technology across 17,000 devices to facilitate high-speed, cost-effective enterprise-wide remote collaboration and learning. Engineers now instantly remote into devices in another site to monitor and adjust programmes in real-time from any location.
In-house app developers connect into new employees’ PC’s to help and train colleagues in distant offices on new engineering software. The finance manager can connect to a PC in accounts receivable, live and in real time. Crucially, the employee can watch and learn what the engineer or finance manager is doing when they remote into their device.
With the correct technology, employees can access and control an unlimited number of PCs at no extra cost, enabling employees to get real-time help and support from any expert in any department or location of the company.
The technology additionally facilitates remote policy enforcement and oversight as a finance or legal officer can remote in to an employee’s device to monitor compliance. It not only reduces site visits but enables skills and expertise to be more widely disseminated across the company and among all ranks, creating a much more interconnected environment.
‘Always-on’ customer service
Ubiquitous remote access technology is also breaking down barriers between vendors and customers, reducing long waits for call-outs and improving customer engagement and satisfaction. Enterprises are using remote access as a brand reputation as the technology is dramatically improving first-call resolution and consumer satisfaction.
Telecoms giants are now enabling technicians to connect into customer set-top boxes to remotely fix technical issues or guide consumers through connectivity problems. This has led to a 30% decrease in onsite service calls such as truck rolls and a 30% increase in first-call resolution of customer queries. This approach is saving time and money, while improving customer satisfaction.
IT software developers can allow corporate customers to ‘remote in’ to training labs, enabling staff in other countries to remotely view and physically interact with virtual training machines. We will begin to see companies and consumers using remote access technology to deliver real-time, remote customer support inside everything from data centres to cars.
In future, we could see banks ‘remote in’ to cashpoints to fix technical issues or guide consumers through transactions in real-time to alleviate consumer concerns over branch closures. This not only reduces downtime and site visits but reduces customer queries over time by equipping them with the knowledge to navigate complex transactions.
Taxi services, automotive firms, hauliers or hire-car companies will be able to ‘remote in’ to cars to help guide customers or employees on how to use the satnav or respond to a technical problem. They will even be able to remotely intervene on the road, by connecting into the dashboard to fix technical problems, turn on the air conditioning or inject AdBlue into the exhaust to reduce emissions in urban areas.
The key to the future
The businesses that succeed will be those that create a genuinely interconnected business ecosystem. To do this, they must facilitate remote cross-fertilisation of knowledge and ideas at all times and locations, making limited human resources stretch further by dissolving traditional silos of expertise and educating and empowering customers and employees.