Innovation Spotlight

Plugging into Technology Solutions

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 edition of Mobility Magazine.

Automation tools promise leaps in productivity and income.

A 146-inch TV. A point-and-shoot virtual reality camera. A machine that sorts and folds your laundry. A “social empathy robot” that changes its expression when it senses support is needed. All these futuristic gadgets exist and were showcased early this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Technology changes in the blink of an eye. New tech hits the market overnight. What does that mean for the mobility industry? Your business can profit from advanced technology—both what’s available now and inventions currently in the pipeline. Certain modes and devices enable you to increase efficiency and save money. You can also gain a competitive advantage. But most of all, you can meet your clients’ needs—the key to repeat business.

Relocation can be a stressful proposition for the transferee, said Scott Becker, senior vice president in charge of the newly established Product Development Team at Cartus, headquartered in Danbury, Connecticut. Becker added:

“They have a new office and a new city or sometimes country to get used to. Answering questions before the move is essential, and our technology anticipates the needs of transferees and provides solutions.”

One way for the assignee to gain control is to employ apps on smartphones or tablets.

Related: Data Visualization in Mobility

Mobile Apps

All kinds of apps are available to make moves easier. For example, Moved, a personal moving assistant, books a mover; sells, donates, and discards household goods the transferee doesn’t want; and more. MoveAdvisor creates a timeline, takes inventory, and lets users arrange furniture in their new home. The list goes on. But nothing existed in app format that did what Global Mobility Solutions needed, so they conceived their own.

“MyRelocation is a proprietary cloud-based technology solution, designed from the ground up, with feedback from hundreds of human resource professionals and their transferring employees,” said John Fernandez, CRP, executive vice president of Global Mobility Solutions, headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. “It works with any connected device on any platform and has a responsive design that makes for unmatched ease of use on a desktop, mobile, or tablet device.”

For the transferee, MyRelocation offers communication with the relocation team, access to relocation benefit details, destination spotlights and guides, travel booking, online expense tracking and submitting, mobility tools and calculators, and language and cultural tools.

For the human resources representative, MyRelocation provides relocation cost estimating, an approval queue, team profiles, relocation performance analytics, customizable financial reporting, and the ability to question a Global Mobility Solutions consultant.

MyRelocation also includes an extensive knowledge base that draws on decades of industry expertise and research. This information includes white papers, blogs, and other facts valuable to both relocating employees and their employers.

Throughout the year, MyRelocation is updated. This year, Fernandez says, Global Mobility Solutions is implementing several enhanced features, including managing global lump-sum dollars, real-time shipment information and management, and destination videos.

Besides asking clients for their perspectives and requirements, Global Mobility Solutions also has an internal team that analyzes these recommendations, prioritizes projects, researches best practices, and implements the preferred solutions, said Fernandez.

Your company may not have a big enough IT department to invent and customize your own cloud-based solution to address your requirements, but plenty of useful technology is out there to purchase.

Related: Mobility Challenge: Next-Gen Nuances

Virtual Reality

So far computer simulation of 3-D images, as seen on a screen inside goggles or a helmet, hasn’t impacted the mobility industry on a large scale, said Patrick Kenning, GMS, client intelligence hub director in Amsterdam for Crown Worldwide, which has headquarters in Hong Kong. Kenning added:

“What has relevance for our industry today are the 360-degree cameras used to capture images and video that can be viewed through VR [virtual reality] headsets, smartphones, tablets, or computers. We see this suited to enhance accommodation finding and, to a lesser degree, to preview trips and local area orientations.”

For the global mobility industry, Kenning says, currently the effort and cost to film an individual property or capture a local community in 360 degrees just doesn’t result in the necessary ROI. But change happens quickly, and Kenning saids his team is keeping an eye on VR as it relates to real estate.

Another contender for your business dollars already graces many homes.

Artificial Intelligence

You’re most likely familiar with artificial intelligence (AI) in its simplest form—chatbots (think Alexa, Siri, and Cortana). Their use continues to increase, and their capabilities are developing, noted Kenning:

“We are seeing chatbots capable of providing simple assignment updates, carrying data through the system-driven conversation, then populating cost-of-living budgets and needs-assessment questionnaires, avoiding a number of offline forms for the assignee to complete. For some European city registrations, natural language processing is being used, removing the reliance on human-owned administrative processes, driving efficiencies, offering flexibility, and improving the overall customer experience.”

According to a study conducted by Grand View Research, the global chatbot market is on course to reach $1.23 billion by 2025 because the devices significantly reduce costs for enterprises.

AI and machine learning are here to enhance the capabilities of chatbots, making them more desirable. The use of image and speech recognition and translation abilities will all add value to global mobility, reducing the reliance on numerous stakeholders and systems throughout the assignment process. As the volume of chatbot conversations increases, machine learning will continue to absorb and improve those conversations and, in addition, be able to make predictions based on the data fed into the machine.

Read the rest of this article in the October 2018 edition of Mobility Magazine.

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