The Digital Contact Center Workplace
Illustration by Jared Fanning

No one can deny the remarkable impact that mobile technology has had on consumer behavior. Texting has displaced phone calls and email as the preferred communication channel among millennials, and social media has emerged as their top choice for obtaining information and content.

Our employees are also consumers of the latest cool tools and applications. They use mobile devices and digital apps on a daily basis to be more productive and improve the quality of their personal lives—and they expect to be able to use the same types of tools in the workplace to connect with coworkers, share resources, and achieve a better work-life balance.

What impact does a company’s ability to meet their employees’ tech expectations have on job satisfaction? Quite a bit, it seems. According to a recent survey conducted by Dell and Intel, 42% of millennial employees say that they would quit a job with substandard technology. Further, a majority of workers (63% of millennials and 55% of older workers) say they would prefer high-tech perks in the workplace like augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) and Internet of Things (IoT) over low-tech perks like ping-pong and free food.

The Future Workforce Study also pointed out that it’s not just the millennials who are looking forward to the introduction of these cutting-edge technologies into their working lives. Just under two-thirds (62%) of global workers believe that artificial intelligence will make their jobs easier, while half (50%) say AI will lead to more productivity in the workplace. Thirty percent (30%) cited the ability to automate complex or repetitive tasks as the major immediate advantage.

Challenges in the Contact Center Environment

Certainly the contact center is a more restrictive environment than other business functions—and with good reason. Large centers with hundreds or thousands of employees could pose considerable risks in a BYOD (bring your own device) scenario. Consider, for instance, the challenge of keeping that many individual devices secure. How would you ensure that employees are not bypassing corporate security protocols? Or that sensitive customer and/or company information is not shared, stored or at risk in case a device is lost or stolen?

Staying on top of emerging technology is another challenge for both contact centers and CIOs, says Vikram Mago, Director–Customer Service & Support in the Business Services Unit of Capgemini, the global strategy and transformation consulting organization of the Capgemini Group. Capgemini Consulting’s Digital Transformation Institute is an in-house think-tank on all things digital. The Institute publishes research on the impact of digital technologies on large traditional businesses.

“There is so much new technology emerging every day, it is a challenge to identify which tools and applications are the right fit for your environment—because the newer arena of digitalization is not tried and tested in the contact center,” Mago says. “The contact center space is very people intensive, so any technology that we bring in has to have a lot of due diligence, and that’s a headache for CIOs.

“There is also the integration challenge,” he adds. “When a new technology comes out, how well does it integrate with the environment? That is a constant problem in terms of the existing legacy IT infrastructure in place in many organizations. It can be a costly affair.”

Millennials Driving Change

Despite the challenges of providing a consumer-like computing environment for employees, organizations that hope to engage and retain their millennial workers will need to weigh the risks against the opportunities presented by the digital workplace. Aside from the obvious engagement and job satisfaction benefits, the digital workplace offers an ROI to the organization in the form of increased productivity, information sharing and business agility.

So how can contact centers begin to provide a more engaging, consumer-style experience for employees? Like most long-term strategic initiatives, the digital workplace begins with a vision that encompasses the entire enterprise, along with a roadmap for implementing, measuring and improving both the employee experience and business outcomes.

The first step for contact center leaders is to work with IT to assess your current digital assets. “Bring it all under one umbrella so that you have one view of the technology that exists today across the enterprise,” Mago says. “A key challenge in organizations is that the business side is separate from the technology side. IT does not understand the business needs, and business leaders do not understand the technology.”

To move forward, center leaders will need to spend some time mapping out their business requirements to ensure that IT understands key pain points, as well as current and future needs. “They can then bring in apps that exist within the enterprise or look for what is available as an industry standard outside of what they currently have,” he adds.

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