What’s New with Workforce Management?
2018 is the most exciting year in decades for the WFM market, with developments in innovation, interest and investment. Vendors are delivering innovation in the form of better user interfaces (UIs) that offer a much-improved experience without sacrificing function. These interfaces are delivering enhanced tools that engage agents and give them the autonomy to become active participants in managing their own work-life balance. Innovation is also about addressing intraday management challenges with NewGen WFM adaptive real-time scheduling and intelligent automation.
Innovation is driving strong interest in NewGen WFM solutions, particularly as leaders are searching for tools to help address the growing complexity of managing people resources in their omni-channel contact center operating environments. Today’s omni-channel environments need intelligent and automated systems to help them balance servicing requirements with employee needs to ensure customers receive a consistently outstanding service experience, regardless of the medium of communication.
The cloud, which is essentially a financing and delivery model, has been a game-changer for the WFM market. The need for cloud-based WFM solutions to meet the customers’ changing demands has forced WFM vendors to redesign and architect solutions that in some cases were more than 20 years out of date. The result is vastly improved reliability, flexibility and scalability – advances that are altering the playing field for large and small contact centers.
Small contact centers with as few as 20 seats are adopting WFM at a rapid rate. While efficiency gains from applying WFM solutions in small contact centers are limited, these environments are experiencing benefits from automated scheduling, mobility, self-service and employee engagement. As is the case in large contact centers, using automation to assign vacations, schedule changes and time off eliminates claims of unfairness while freeing supervisors from low-value tasks.
Back Offices and Branches
WFM is also making inroads into back-office operating departments, where there are at least twice as many employees as there are in contact centers. And the retail world is also adopting WFM, although it has many unique needs that are different from front- and back-office operating areas. The untapped opportunities for applying WFM are massive, and the potential benefits are great for both vendors and end users. However, a great deal of work needs to be done, and the business culture has to change in order to break open the WFM opportunities in back offices and branches.
It’s been years since the WFM market has seen new vendors emerge with competitive products, but DMG expects this to happen, as the barriers to market entry are being reduced by some of the newer technology and the cloud. Rules-based decisioning, machine learning, adaptive capabilities and more are coming into play in what has always been a staid and slow-moving sector. WFM vendors, like all IT sectors, are talking about the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), and while it may be years before this trend takes hold with practical applications, WFM is an area where this technology could make major contributions.
Ironically, now that the WFM vendors are finally interested in making investments and the solutions are smarter, faster and more automated than ever before, the biggest impediment to adoption may be end-user fear of change and losing control. It’s time for the contact center and WFM community to rethink their traditional staffing and scheduling practices. The world has changed, and so must contact centers.
DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.