Today's users expect a lot from technology, like connecting us or giving ubiquitous, up-to-date information at all times. We expect technology to adapt to our specific user profile, to inform us about the future for unknown events, and to support us in decision-making.
Communication and collaboration solutions have become an integral part of everyday professional life. In the future, they will prevail across all industries and company sizes.
The Business Messenger occupies a small but decisive niche in the market for communication solutions. Whether as an established tool, as a novelty or as a communication alternative, its mission is to simplify professional communication, make work processes more efficient and relieve employees.
Since the business messenger market is driving new developments at a rapid pace, we want to shed light on which innovations in business messaging will be on the agenda for 2022.
The last two years have not only given the digital transformation of companies a significant boost, but also advanced internal communication in many places. To quickly and securely connect decentralized teams and mobile workers with one another, new communication channels have to be found, whereby GDPR-compliant business messengers are clearly on the advance.
Tobias Stepan, founder of Teamwire, identified and elaborated six trends in business messaging for 2022.
Trend 1: Push-to-Talk – from voice messages to walkie-talkies in Messenger
Direct voice communication via push-to-talk, which was previously only possible via digital radio, can now be implemented with the help of a business messenger. Additional devices such as walkie-talkies are supplemented by business smartphones. Push-to-talk enables direct language exchange, which not only makes communication more efficient, but also makes it much easier to interpret. At the same time, this new user-friendliness makes it easier to receive and send audio messages. Particularly mission-oriented teams, for example in the areas of BOS, rescue service, construction, logistics, delivery services and tourism, benefit from a push-to-talk function in the messenger, because in addition to audio recordings, images and documents can also be transmitted in the same communication channel, such as an operational chat during an observation. All communication relating to a process can be saved in the organization's archive and retrieved at any time, which, among other things, significantly simplifies the creation of reports and evaluations.
Trend 2: Implement the social intranet idea in business messaging
Messenger as social intranets not only promote the vision of integrating all employees in internal communication, but also accelerate the distribution of information and raise feedback cycles to a new level. Company news are shared with the aid of status messages, both for one-to-one and group chats as well as broadcasts. The color-coded messages are visible to all users of a chat. An additional overview allows you to filter chat histories according to message types, and thus also according to status messages, and to quickly find the information you are looking for. At the same time, employees can interact with the content by "commenting" on it using emoticons. The aim of this is to activate and promote team collaboration across the entire workforce, from mobile workers to desk employees, but also from trainees to C-level managers, and to guarantee optimal exchange.
Trend 3: New user interfaces and smart devices for messengers
Not only the messengers themselves are becoming more and more sophisticated, but also the end devices. In addition to smartphones, tablets and the like, which have long since established themselves as the standard for messaging apps, smart devices with new user interfaces will conquer the market. Smartwatches have developed rapidly and are widespread in recent years. They are light, robust and are particularly suitable for mobile emergency services such as police officers and rescue workers. But data glasses, so-called smart glasses, are already in the starting blocks. In combination with messenger apps, they can offer remarkable advantages. For example, you enable doctors to easily view patient files together with colleagues during an examination and to communicate at the same time, while keeping both hands free. Smartglasses also support logistics employees in locating stored goods and exchanging information about the transport. It is conceivable that the position of the goods to be loaded, including directions for a larger warehouse, can be called up and colleagues can be requested for support while the employee is on the move with the forklift. In this way, new smart devices make it easier and faster to implement use cases.
Trend 4: Even more sophisticated messenger functions
Sending documents, photos and videos, sharing locations, making VoIP and video calls are all part of the standard repertoire of a good business messenger, and the peak in terms of innovative functions is still far from being reached. Messaging apps integrate more and more functionalities to cover all use cases across industries and to make the exchange of information even easier:
- alerts to ensure direct emergency communication and coordination using acknowledgment options and alarm reports,
- surveys to easily create surveys and simplify scheduling, and
- image processing to anonymize data and make faces unrecognizable.
In 2022, the variety of functions will continue to increase, and individual functions will be refined – individually tailored to industries.
Trend 5: Geo-referencing in Messenger – live location functions reach a new level
Sharing locations in messengers is a popular feature, since it is ideal for sharing your current whereabouts, giving directions, and arranging meeting points. In everyday business, however, there are often use cases in which the whereabouts of the users change dynamically, and knowledge of the real-time locations or live locations can be of great importance for colleagues and business partners. Typical scenarios are the deployment of public order offices, police and rescue services, production employees as well as transport and delivery service trips. There will be the next stages of innovation here to further improve the geo-referenced coordination, such as progressive map applications or the provision of application-relevant location information through artificial intelligence are conceivable.
Trend 6: Messenger with maximum data sovereignty with simultaneous networking
Data sovereignty and security are two issues that are becoming increasingly important for companies. In lockstep with the continuously developing messenger functionalities and technical possibilities, the threat from cyberattacks is also growing. Federated servers increase the reliability against hacker attacks – after all, in the worst case only the attacked server fails. The federation is also a significant step forward in improving data sovereignty. For security reasons, in addition to secure containers on the end device, functions for holistic data and access management are becoming increasingly relevant. Further strengthening encryption algorithms for communication and establishing additional security functions are also among the central developments in business messaging. Compliance and auditing-proof archiving will be an important topic for all companies and industries in 2022. It is now clear that messaging is part of business communication, and therefore falls under the documentation obligations under commercial, professional and data protection law. Companies can easily implement their compliance and data protection requirements with leading business messengers – a key advantage over American cloud solutions.
Professional communication will continue to change, and new technologies will accompany this change and drive it forward. Business messengers are already making device, time and location-independent collaboration within a team and between several teams possible – even from other organizations. However, their potential is far from being exhausted, which is illustrated by the expected trends. Business messaging is ready for the future.
According to Forrester's 2022 Predictions for Asia Pacific, region-specific pressures will allow just 40% of APAC firms to pivot to anywhere-work versus 70% globally.
Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, unveiled Tingwu, an AI-powered meeting assistant, alongside a new version of its cloud computer.
The solutions are tailored for the new world of work and address surging demand from corporate users looking to work remotely with more automated support, a trend accelerated by the pandemic.
The “Internet of Things” (IoT) essentially describes the communication between countless devices via the Internet. The concept is well known by now and will become a reality with billions of more connected devices to the Internet in the coming years. The chances of abuse increase immeasurably: on the one hand, completely new options for communication and transactions with your customers open up; on the other hand, the dangers increase, because spammers and phishers know how to use these new options against you and your brand.
The spread of smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) are profoundly revolutionizing digital marketing. Used in marketing, IoT can collect customer information in ways that marketers of the last century could never achieve.
IBM just announced its acquisition of Envizi, a leading data and analytics software provider for environmental performance management that builds on IBM's growing investments in AI-powered software, including IBM Maximo asset management solutions, IBM Sterling supply chain solutions and IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite, to help organizations create more resilient and sustainable operations and supply chains. Financial details were not disclosed.
Companies are under mounting pressure from regulators, investors, and consumers to progress toward more sustainable and socially responsible business operations – and to demonstrate these measures in a robust and verifiable way. In fact, corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability risks tied as the third highest concerns for organizations, as ranked by large corporations in a 2021 Forrester report. However, the various types of data companies need to understand and report on sustainability initiatives remains highly fragmented and difficult for all relevant parties to access.
Certainly, IBM is already using Envizi to help streamline tracking and reporting of its progress against the company's own goals in renewable electricity procurement and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction.
Envizi's software automates the collection and consolidation of more than 500 data types and supports major sustainability reporting frameworks. Its user-friendly and easily customized dashboards enable companies to analyze, manage and report on environmental goals, identify efficiency opportunities, and assess sustainability risk. Envizi's solutions help streamline the management of these tasks as part of broader Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting initiatives, while also providing users with valuable sustainability insights to inform business strategy.
By using Envizi with IBM's broader AI-powered software, companies will now be able to automate the feedback generated between their corporate environmental initiatives and the operational endpoints being used in daily business operations – a crucial step in making sustainability efforts more scalable.
For instance, Envizi will integrate with:
- IBM Maximo asset management solutions, which help companies extend the life of their critical assets, reduce environmental impact by providing intelligent asset management, monitoring, predictive maintenance and reliability in a single platform.
- IBM Sterling supply chain solutions, which help companies gain supply chain visibility, cut waste by right-sizing inventory, reduce the carbon footprint of shipment and logistics, and ensure responsible sourcing with blockchain-based technology for traceability.
- IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite (EIS), which helps companies increase resiliency by assessing and planning for the impact of environmental conditions on their operations, assets, and supply chains. EIS uses advanced AI and weather technology from IBM, the most accurate forecasting provider globally.
- IBM Turbonomic and Red Hat OpenShift capabilities, which help companies automate decision making when considering where to run enterprise workloads based on optimization of performance, cost and GHG emissions.
Envizi will also help expand IBM Consulting's growing sustainability practice, which is designed to help clients accelerate progress toward their sustainability commitments.
"To drive real progress toward sustainability, companies need the ability to transform data into predictive insights that help them make more intelligent, actionable decisions every day," said Kareem Yusuf, PhD, General Manager, IBM AI Applications. "Envizi's software provides companies with a single source of truth for analyzing and understanding emissions data across the full landscape of their business operations, and dramatically accelerates IBM's growing arsenal of AI technologies for helping businesses create more sustainable operations and supply chains."
Available as a SaaS solution and running in multi-cloud environments, Envizi is used by a number of leading brands, including Microsoft and Uber, and its software can be applied to activities across a variety of industries.
"As a leader and innovator in AI for business, IBM has decades of experience helping organizations around the world harness the power of their data and act on it," said David Solsky, CEO and Co-Founder, Envizi. "IBM's global reach, depth of resources and breadth of expertise will help us to scale at an unprecedented pace. As part of IBM, we feel more confident than ever that we can achieve our goal of providing clients and partners with the world class tools they need to reduce their operational impacts and optimize for the low carbon future."
Beyond its ongoing investments in providing clients the most comprehensive AI software to help them accelerate their sustainability initiatives and support their environmental goals, IBM is also using its software to improve its own operational efficiencies, manage energy consumption and drive GHG emissions reduction. These activities support IBM's commitment to reach net zero GHG emissions by 2030.
NortonLifeLock, a global leader in consumer Cyber Safety, announced the launch of Dark Web Monitoring in Hong Kong to be able to notify customers of potential threats to their identity, if detected.
“We are delighted a range of Norton 360 plans in Hong Kong now include Dark Web Monitoring. No matter how careful an individual may be with their personal data online, an everyday activity such as going to a store and using a credit card could lead to data being leaked and reaching the dark web. While data breaches involving large companies have become familiar topics on the news, smaller organizations are also targeted by cybercriminals and these events may not be heavily publicized, although the impact on lives is just as real,” said Mark Gorrie, Senior Director, Asia Pacific, NortonLifeLock.
The dark web is a small part of the web where anonymity is prized, and nefarious activities can run amok. Where previously two people might have met in a dark alley to exchange illegal goods for cash, today cybercriminals can meet anonymously on the dark web to illegally purchase information that can be used to commit identity theft or other crimes.
“Our Dark Web Monitoring feature actively searches the dark web for your email address and other personal data you choose to register and issues a notification should that data be discovered. With Dark Web Monitoring we are offering another tool to help protect and empower people to live their digital lives more safely”, Mark Gorrie concluded.
Dark Web Monitoring is now available in Norton 360 Premium, Norton 360 Deluxe and Norton 360 for Gamers. When a customer subscribes to a Norton 360 plan with Dark Web Monitoring, the email address registered to the Norton 360 plan will be monitored automatically, while the easy-to-use dashboard allows for personally identifiable pieces of information to be added for monitoring. This includes up to five insurance account numbers; email addresses, phone numbers; and up to ten credit card numbers and even gamer tags. In the event of that data being found on the dark web, whether through forums or websites, the notification allows for direct action to be taken, including changing a password or contacting a trusted service provider.
Current customers with an active subscription can now access Dark Web Monitoring for the remainder of their subscription at no extra cost through an automatic update. This extends across a number of devices, from smartphones to tablets and PCs, depending on the customer’s priorities and chosen plan.
In addition to Dark Web Monitoring, key Norton 360 features include:
- Norton Mobile Security: helps deliver powerful, effective protection for your personal information on Android and iOS devices, against stealthy new mobile cyber threats and online frauds – considering smartphones and tablets carry a lot of personal information and be vulnerable to cyber threats.
- PC Cloud Backup: allows you to choose the plan that suits your needs, with options from 50GB, 75GB, or 100 GB (depending on plan) of cloud storage for important files and documents as a preventative measure to data loss due to hard drive failures, stolen devices and even ransomware.
- Norton Secure VPN: allows you to access your favorite apps and websites when connecting to Wi-Fi at home or on-the-go with the reassurance of bank-grade encryption.
- PC SafeCam: receive alerts when your webcam is accessed and block it.
- Parental Control: helps children more safely explore the internet
- Smart Firewall for PC: helps protect your device and data from malicious attacks and intrusive eyes by monitoring and blocking suspicious network traffic.
- Password Manager: creates, stores and manages your passwords, credit card information and other credentials online more easily.
- Norton 360 for Gamers: offers advanced protection features specifically designed to address gamers’ unique security needs, without interfering with gameplay. The in-built Game Optimizer feature allows gamers to maximize their game performance for a more immersive gameplay experience.
These new features come at the right time to patrol the dark web, enabling customers to identify potential threats to their identity.
Neuroscientists agree that 70-95% of people make decisions unconsciously and then give themselves a “logical explanation” for their decision within fractions of a second. Therefore, when we ask about it, we get very often wrong explanations. Because people don't even know why they decided for or against the new product.
Quadient's Inspire Flex software release delivers customer experience built for a digital-first world
Quadient a leader in helping businesses create meaningful customer connections through digital and physical channels, announced the general availability of Inspire Flex Release 15 (R15), Quadient's flagship enterprise omnichannel Customer Communications Management (CCM) software solution. The new release advances Inspire's evolution from CCM technology to an expanded solution designed to foster greater Customer Experience Management (CXM).
Inspire Flex R15 integrates more than 300 robust enhancements that empower users to elevate and accelerate their ability to meet customers wherever they are through their preferred communication channels and on the devices they use.
Based on customer feedback and market data, Inspire Flex R15 is designed to help companies respond to the increased mobility of both employees and consumers. The new release is part of the company’s continuous drive for innovation in its cloud-based suite of advanced software solutions that is bringing together CCM, customer journey mapping and orchestration, document automation, accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR). Inspire Flex is the only fully integrated, any-premise enterprise CCM solution that enables organizations to create and deliver personalized, compliant customer communications across all channels from one centralized platform.
Today, many companies are combining the power and versatility of Inspire Flex with the benefits of cloud operations to reduce capital outlay, accelerate return on investment and deliver peace of mind. For companies interested in moving to the cloud but don't want to manage the application or infrastructure, Quadient offers a Hosted Managed Service (QHMS) allowing customers to focus on using the power of the latest version of Inspire Flex without having to worry about the technical complexities of operating and maintaining the infrastructure and applications themselves. Additionally, to help companies meet storage and audit needs, Inspire Flex integrates with Quadient Archive and Retrieval, a software solution that enables quick and easy access to past communications and data across all channels.
"Quadient's latest Inspire release continues to raise the bar on the customer experience with intelligent communication automation," said Marci Maddox, research director, Digital Experience Strategies, for IDC, a global market intelligence and advisory services firm. "Quadient brings empowerment and interaction to the forefront with a modernized user interface, data-driven journey decisioning and features designed to help companies give business users more control over content, expanded delivery channels and faster time to value."
Inspire Flex R15's streamlined, modern user interface empowers faster adoption by new users, the ability to analyze key business metrics directly in customer journey maps to promote better decision making and more relevant communications. Inspire Flex also offers the ability to create, manage and execute cross-channel communications delivery workflows, including message distribution to WhatsApp users, extending its reach to more than 2 billion consumers. Additionally, users can build responsive HTML5 emails using a drag and drop interface with reusable design components and proof email communications in more than 100 different email clients through its integration with Litmus, a leader in email marketing.
Users can also speed up template design by importing content from the latest versions of InDesign and QuarkXpress and design Inspire Dynamic Communications faster and easier leveraging more than 60 of the most popular design objects from Bootstrap 5, a front-end opensource toolkit. To accelerate time to value, deeper integration points and accelerators simplify deployment to Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
"We are excited to be rolling out a new release of Inspire Flex as we know our customers will be just as excited to see that their investment in it continues to be enhanced and protected with capabilities that respond to the many ways people work today," said Chris Hartigan, chief solution officer, Intelligent Communication Automation, Quadient. "This release is another demonstration of Quadient's commitment to customer-driven development and underscores our dedication to ensuring our solutions effectively respond to a dynamic marketplace, evolving as our customers' business demands do." (Source: Quadient)
In online and brick-and-mortar retail you can see a tug-of-war for the customer's favor, but this battle only obscures one of the most important future trends, the Internet of Things (IoT). As a result, retail is increasingly losing direct contact with its customers, regardless of whether it is online or offline.
From February onwards, Microsoft offers a special "Cloud for Retail" solution that intends to support in the handling and processing of structured and unstructured data and to unite various data sources along the retail value chain.
Based on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform and Microsoft Advertising, it connects the stations of the entire customer journey through retail-specific functions that offer relevant personalized experiences and more efficient operations.
Microsoft Cloud for Retail helps retailers unlock the full value of their data for unified customer profiles, personalized shopping experiences, transparent supply chains and empowered employees by streamlining business processes and turning data into actionable insights.
Central functions of the Microsoft Cloud for Retail include:
- 360-degree view of customers with uniform customer profiles
- Improved shopping experiences through real-time personalization
- Building a resilient supply chain in real time
- Employee empowerment through improved communication and collaboration
Microsoft Cloud for Retail is an industry-specific cloud that will help retailers meet this new age of digital optimism. It starts by unifying disparate data sources across the end-to-end shopper journey, allowing retailers to maximize the value of their data, and resulting in one holistic view of the consumer. Once connected, data and AI help retailers better understand and elevate the consumer shopping experience. In providing more relevant and streamlined experiences throughout the retail value chain, retailers can build a real-time sustainable supply chain and empower their frontline workforce.
Four future-looking opportunities that retailers can be optimistic about in 2022 with Microsoft Cloud include:
1. Maximize the value of retail data
Realize the true value of retailer’s data by unifying disparate data sources across the shopper journey, discovering insights that enable better experiences. There are 40 petabytes of data generated every hour in retail, yet customer touchpoints aren’t linked to each other—systems and data are siloed and disconnected. And most retailers are only set up to leverage a fraction of the data that’s available. Microsoft Cloud for Retail allows for bringing multiple systems and applications together, unifying disparate data sources to establish a singular, in-depth profile of each shopper. Capabilities here include unified customer profile, shopper and operational analytics, intelligent fraud protection, and retail media.
2. Elevate the shopping experience
Transform the shopping experience through data analytics and new store technology to create more engaged shoppers with stronger lifetime value. In today’s highly competitive retail landscape, personalization has become the standard. With personalization at the heart of satisfying shopping experiences, Microsoft Cloud for Retail helps drive conversion by enabling personalized recommendations and search results. Capabilities here include real-time personalization, intelligent stores, unified commerce, digital advertising solutions, and seamless customer service.
3. Build a real-time, sustainable supply chain
Create a resilient and sustainable supply chain by connecting data across the ecosystem to identify issues and optimize performance. Today’s consumers are frustrated by empty shelves. Supply chain transformation starts with the recognition that a retailer’s data holds the key. Microsoft Cloud for Retail helps retailers to better predict demand using AI to optimize inventory and optimize order management to give customers choice across channels. It also helps retailers record, report, and reduce things like carbon emissions as they strive to become more sustainable.
4. Empower the store associate
Retail always has been and always will be a people business; hence, investing in frontline workers’ experience is investing in the customer experience. However, industry-specific solutions like Microsoft Cloud for Retail can surface stock and supply chain data on mobile devices so an associate can quickly see availability of an out-of-stock product and arrange to have it shipped to the customer. Retailers that have transformed frontline capabilities in this way have seen unprecedented returns in customer satisfaction. Capabilities here include real-time store communication and collaboration, retail workforce management, process automation, and career development.
Partnering for the next era of retail
Building digital capability is the new currency driving every retailer’s resilience and growth. Not just for this pandemic but for future events, and the years to come. The fact is that the world of retail has been forever shaped by new behaviors, and many are here to stay. Business-as-usual will no longer meet these expectations. With the rise of blended consumer shopping behaviors, persistent supply chain constraints, and a serious labor shortage, a new reality has emerged that requires retailers to accelerate their digital capabilities to give consumers what they want before they’ve asked, align their supply chain by anticipating this demand, and empower the retail frontline workers. These challenges can now be tackled head-on with technology like Microsoft Cloud for Retail. (Source: Microsoft)
Cyber-attacks are the greatest risk to a company’s operational capacity, as well as its revenue and brand value. With the digital transformation, and with it an acceleration of modern technology, there has been a vast increase of security issues that Chief Information Security Officers (CISO’s) have had to face. This is especially true for small to medium business, as these companies have accelerated straight through to the Cloud and experienced at full force all the new and developing related issues. Similar issues face larger corporations, but at differing degrees.
Half of workers in Singapore spend well over eight hours a day at the office and 50% regularly take work home to finish in the evening.This evidence of long working hours is seen in the latest global survey findings from Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workplaces, canvassing the opinions of over 12,000 business people in 85 countries. Arguably, pressure on working hours has increased in recent years because of the slow economic recovery in mature economies and, conversely, very rapid growth in emerging ones. A country like Singapore - which has a very work-centric culture - is no exception to this rule.
Key findings of the survey include:
- 31% of Singapore workers usually work between nine and eleven hours every day compared to an average of 38% of workers elsewhere in the world;
- 19% of workers in Singapore and 10% globally regularly work more than eleven hours a day;
- In Singapore, 50% of workers take tasks home to finish at the end of the day, more than three times a week, compared to 43% globally;
- Globally, only 5% of women work 60-hour weeks compared to more than twice that number (12%) for men. They are also less likely (32%) to take work home more than three times a week, than are men (48%);
- Remote workers globally are more likely to work eleven hour days (14%) than fixed office workers (6%) and to take tasks home to finish (59%) than fixed office workers (26%);
- Workers in smaller companies were more likely to take work home with them (48%) more than three times a week than those working in large firms (29%).
William Willems, Regional Vice-President, Regus, Asia-Pacific observes: “This study finds a clear blurring of the line between work and home. In Singapore, where the National Institute for Occupational Mental Health reports that a quarter of workers view their job as the number one cause of stress, the long-term effects of this over-work could be damaging both to workers’ health and to overall productivity as workers drive themselves too hard and become disaffected, depressed or even physically ill."
“While women were found to be less likely to work longer hours, probably because they are more likely to be employed in part-time work, small company workers are more likely to clock up the hours than large company employees. Workers in small businesses are perhaps more likely to feel that the impact of the single employee on the success of a project is more marked."
Martin Cerullo, Managing Director for Development for Alexander Mann Solutions in Asia-Pacific, noted that much of the issue has to do with globalization of the economy. “With an economy based primarily on trading, Singapore undoubtedly has relationships with countries all over the world with various time differences to consider. Furthermore, the advancement of technology has facilitated the access of work beyond the office. As a result, it is not uncommon that workers find themselves working more hours,” said Cerullo.
Willems points out “While our survey found remote and mobile workers generally worked longer hours, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that remote workers are more productive, have a higher job satisfaction and lower stress levels. These workers typically spend far less time commuting, freeing up more time for their job. Businesses that enable their employees to work from locations closer to home and manage their time more independently will offset the stress of a poor work-life balance and gain more productive, committed and healthy staff.” (Source: Regus)