Trends are very compelling. They tell us what’s hot and what to expect in the future. They help guide consumers to a potential purchase or investment, and in the business world, help drive decisions and strategy.
Vendor Management System (VMS) industry is no exception when it comes to trends, and they can be derived from a few different places: the staffing industry, the overall global workforce and even consumer technology. Technology trends in particular can serve as a great source of inspiration for VMS development, due to the fast pace of and the move to easier-to-use enterprise solutions.
There are four common technology trends that are forecasted to impact VMS users in the future: mobility, big data, collaboration and the cloud.
According to research firm IDC,
more than one billion smartphones were shipped in 2013. The pervasiveness of smartphones in our daily lives leads us to expect every technology platform provide a mobile experience as well. In the VMS space, the real problem that stakeholders are trying to solve isn’t the need for a mobile solution, but rather one of mobility – a growing trend in the work habits of the typical employee. More users than ever are working outside of the office, and using mobile devices and cloud services to perform business tasks.
VMS users want a solution to enable their rapidly expanding mobile workforce and a digital experience that is device agnostic. They also expect the full desktop on their users’ iPads or similar tablets. For example, many VMS applications now allow users to take action on work items within their email program (via the desktop, tablet or smartphone). This method improves workflow and approval cycle times.
A critical piece of any software evaluation, the next evolution of this topic will see these stakeholders putting more emphasis on guidance and decision support, and the ability to provide them in real-time and on the go.
The concept of “big data” is garnering attention as data becomes more readily available to enterprises and consumers. It’s applicable in virtually any vertical, whether it’s consumer products, entertainment, healthcare or software. VMS tools store an incredible volume of data every day that can then be leveraged for predictive analytics within contingent workforce management programs. Customers can tap into real-time data to “now-cast” quality and financial metrics, allowing their stakeholders to adjust business levers within actionable time frames.
Taken one step further, big data leads to active guidance and decision support tools. Managers have enough data to make informed, cost-effective decisions while procuring a high-quality candidates. When multiplied across hundreds of managers, the opportunities for the organization can be tremendous.
Big data is still in its infancy and there are countless ways to leverage data that have yet to be uncovered. One of the biggest challenges with data today is that so much of it is unstructured and requires manual intervention for cleansing and analyzing. VMS providers are exploring and implementing new ways to tackle the large volume of data that has yet to be examined within the tool.
As companies grow, the need for collaboration amongst team members becomes more important. Yet records management tools are becoming cumbersome to use and are not user friendly. With social networks and platforms being so pervasive and second nature to users, companies are faced with a new normal: the introduction of cloud platforms and apps into the organization.
Collaboration between VMS users needs to be easy, real time and exist at the metadata level. It became clear that the social enterprise is not a singular platform or technology that an organization can roll out. Rather, it is embedded as features within the various applications that users access as part of their daily routine. Modern collaboration practices are critical in the VMS arena. For example, collaborative tools such as chat functionality provide immediate access to tribal knowledge and peer-to-peer assistance. And enterprise IT managers are happy because all collaboration is done within the VMS, meeting compliance requirements.
Collaboration tools will continue to gain popularity, especially as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) starts to become the norm. Organizations will not only invest in social features, but ensure their tools offer collaboration opportunities.
Market research firm IHS recently estimated that
spending on cloud technologies will reach an estimated $174 billion this year and by 2017, enterprise spending on the cloud is projected to be $235.1 billion. As cloud adoption increases and brings many important benefits, there are also risks and challenges. Multiple cloud platforms can fragment data. Processes and records stay within their own applications and do not get reconciled, reducing visibility into every aspect of business operations and the ability to respond effectively when problems arise.
To combat this challenge, organizations have used Enterprise Application Integrations (EAI) in the form of point-to-point integrations between the SaaS solution and other cloud platforms and behind-the-firewall systems. However, point-to-point integration does not scale when talking about dozens of cloud and mobile apps. As a result, companies will deploy APIs that will interact with systems on a near real-time basis. Public APIs are already prevalent in many large cloud platforms, and there are many third-party solutions focused on helping companies build their own API gateways. More mature organizations will invest in cloud-to-cloud integrations, better known as integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) solutions.
From the way we communicate with others to the way we do business, technology will continue to play a vital role in our everyday lives. It is important to be aware of these trends and the way things are changing in the VMS industry. After all, trends can directly impact how you leverage a VMS to successfully manage your flexible workforce.